CAPBlog

INTRODUCING OUR 2020-2021 CAP GRADUATE FELLOWS

INTRODUCING OUR 2020-2021 CAP GRADUATE FELLOWS

Thank you Autumn Painter, outgoing Campus Archaeologist: As we say goodbye to outgoing Campus Archaeologist Autumn Painter who, in her two years in the position, continued CAP’s legacy of creative outreach, education, and mitigation while also profoundly shaping the future of the program, we welcome 

Campus Archaeology in the Time of COVID-19

Campus Archaeology in the Time of COVID-19

Greetings from Dr. Camp, the Director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program. This summer has been one of great concern for our community and nation as well as one where we have had to rethink how we approach Campus Archaeology amid a global pandemic. Under 

The History of Laboratory Space at MSU: Part V

The History of Laboratory Space at MSU: Part V

Welcome back to our blog series on research and historical laboratories on MSU’s campus! In our last blog we learned more about the first three buildings added to Laboratory Row and how they have been used on campus over time. As we mentioned in our first blog post in the series, MSU was established in an effort to create an institution unlike any other and distinctly separated its curriculum from that seen in a more classical education – therefore, the push for research and hands-on learning likely acted as a major draw for student enrollment. And the creation of these laboratories over the twenty-four-year period from 1885 to 1909 clearly demonstrate the steady growth of both the College and each individual department, as almost all of these departments needed to relocate to even larger spaces!

Laboratory Row stands as a testament to MSU’s efforts to earn its place as a reputable and credible university – which seemed to have worked quite well based on MSU’s current status as an R1 institution! Today, for the last blog post in this series, we will explore the last buildings added to Laboratory Row and their place on campus today.

Botany Laboratory (1892-Present)

After the original Botany Laboratory burnt down in 1890, Professor Beal made every effort to build a new laboratory and a new museum near his Faculty Row No. 7 residence, but was prevented from doing so, as the potential site would have rested on the “Sacred Space” (Forsyth 2020a). Furthermore, a space in Laboratory Row had already been chosen by the Board of Agriculture, where it still stands today across from Linton Hall. While the College made sure to build the new structure in brick to prevent another fire, Beal notes that it “was never large enough” (Beal 1915:172) – in fact, there was not enough space in the new Botanical Laboratory or money to reinstate the extensive Botanical Collection that rested on the second floor of the original building (Kuhn 1955:182).

New Botany Laboratory (left), dated to 1904. Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.
New Botany Laboratory (left), dated to 1904. Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.

Most students today will recognize the new Botany Laboratory by its current name: “Old Botany.” However, the building looks a bit different than it did when it was built in 1892 because a 25×50 ft “long much needed” two-story addition was constructed in 1909 (Beal 1915:172). In 1910, a greenhouse for plant physiology was also added, which contained many cement structures to hold plants and act as benches for the students (CAP Report No. 18). While the College decided to update many of the greenhouses in 1930, it is unclear how this affected the Botany greenhouse, as greenhouses were not distinguished by number or any other individualizing moniker (CAP Report No. 18).

Left: Students on a botany trip, dated to May 1914. Right: Botany class in new Botanical Laboratory, dated to 1900. Images courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.

Today, Old Botany is the last building in Laboratory Row, of the six left standing, that is still awaiting renovations (MSU Today 2019).

Dairy/Forestry Laboratory (1901-Present)

As we have mentioned in a previous blog post, dairy courses were not a part of the original curriculum of the College even though dairy barns were an important fixture on the early campus. However, this changed due to the first ever short course, taught in the basement of the first Agriculture Laboratory, which focused on creamery management and was extremely successful. Therefore, a Dairy Building was completed in 1901 at the cost of $15,000, as the first building fully dedicated to dairy operations (Beal 1915:276; Forsyth 2020b).

The completed Dairy Building was 64×70 ft and stood two-stories high. The basement held store rooms, cold storage, a cheese curing room, as well as lockers and washrooms for the students (Beal 1915:276). The first floor contained a home dairy room, a butter room, a cheese room, a wash room, and a testing room (Beal 1915:276). The second floor contained classrooms, offices and laboratory spaces (Beal 1915:276). However, even with all its amenities, its use as a Dairy Building was short lived, as a new and larger Dairy Building was constructed in 1912. After the dairy operations moved to the new building, the old Dairy Building transitioned to the Department of Forestry in 1914, becoming the Forestry Laboratory (Forsyth 2020b).

Left: Early short course in creamery management (Kuhn 1955:70). Right: Forest Laboratory (originally the Dairy Laboratory), dated to 1934. Image courtesy of MSU Physical Plant.

The Department of Forestry used the structure for almost 50 years, which led to the building being renamed in honor of Professor Alfred K. Chittenden, who served as the Professor of Forestry from 1914 to 1930 (Forsyth 2020b). After Forestry relocated, Graduate Assistants for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources used Chittenden hall until 1999, after which the building remained empty for 15 years. Since the turn of century, Chittenden Hall has been completely renovated, but this construction modernized many aspects of the building (Forsyth 2020b). One feature that remains from the building’s original purpose as the Dairy Building is a cow door, which hovers a few feet above the ground on one side of Chittenden Hall (Forsyth 2020b). Today, Chittenden Hall is used by the Graduate School.

Cow entrance along north wall of Chittenden Hall, dated to 1992. Image courtesy of MSU Campus Maps.
Cow entrance along north wall of Chittenden Hall, dated to 1992. Image courtesy of MSU Campus Maps.

During the renovation of Chittenden Hall, CAP performed a series of shovel pit tests along the west side of the building and uncovered a plethora of historical artifacts, including window glass, nails, ceramics, slag, and potential ash dumps (CAP Report No. 39). Additionally, CAP team members uncovered pieces of granite that matched those used in the building’s foundation, suggesting that the granites used for construction were likely cut on site (CAP Report No. 39). As this building sits in a historic portion of campus, it has been recommended that any future construction work be monitored closely.

Bacteriology Laboratory (1902-Present)

MSU formally created the Department of Bacteriology and Farm Hygiene in 1900 and was one of the first institutions to do so (Forsyth 2020c). At first, the Department of Bacteriology and Farm Hygiene worked out of the second floor of Veterinary Laboratory (built in 1885), but was able to transition to a customized building in 1902 upon construction of the Bacteriology Laboratory, the first laboratory space wholly dedicated to bacteriology in the United States. (Forsyth 2020c). The laboratory, nicknamed “Old Bact’y,” was built at a cost of $30,000 and also included an attached barn in the rear of the building to house livestock. The building location was just northwest of the new Botany Laboratory and on the plot of the old Experiment Station Forcing house (Beal 1915:279).

Bacteriology Laboratory, dated to 1903. Image courtesy of MSU Physical Plant.
Bacteriology Laboratory, dated to 1903. Image courtesy of MSU Physical Plant.

This laboratory earned quite a reputation over time, as it produced serums for profit as well as a journal, Microbiology, which was edited by the department head, Charles E. Marshall. Both of these pursuits enabled the laboratory to fund any improvements needed and sustain state-of-the-art equipment (Kuhn 1955:231). The laboratory was also used to cremate the remains from anatomical dissections on the second floor of the Veterinary Laboratory – students were paid 15 cents an hour to aid with this task (Kuhn 1955:232). After Marshall left MSU, the building was renamed as Marshall Hall and Professor Ward Giltner took over as the new head until 1947. Giltner’s role as head prompted the movement of the department to Giltner Hall in 1952 (Forsyth 2020c).

Left: Students working in a lab for bacteriology research, prior to the Bacteriology Laboratory, dated to 1890. Right: Student conducting research in Bacteriology Laboratory, dated to 1905. Images courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.

In 1991, the building received an addition in the form of a new seminar room along the rear of the structure, but underwent a full restoration in 2002 due to a donation from Randall and Mary Pittman (Forsyth 2020c). With their donation, the Pittmans renamed the building to Marshall-Adams Hall, the current building name today.

Agriculture Hall (1909-Present)

After the Department of Agriculture had moved into the first Agriculture Laboratory (built in 1889), research boomed and prompted the construction of new, larger Agriculture Hall in 1909 just south of the first laboratory on the plot of an old horse barn. When the building was dedicated, it was the largest building on campus at five-stories tall (Forsyth 2020d). The building was constructed at a cost of $182,000 with stone and paving brick, as well as concrete, to ensure that it would remain fire-proof (Beal 1915:285). The expansive building contained classrooms, laboratories, offices, and even a livestock judging pavilion, which was once located in the center of the large building (Forsyth 2020d). Additionally, the building allowed “the work of farm mechanics, meat demonstration, farm machinery, instruction in the use of cement, animal husbandry, agronomy, work in soils, [and] chemistry of the experimental station” (Beal 1915:285).

Left: Agriculture Hall, dated to 1909. Right: Original floor plan of Agriculture Hall, undated photograph. Images courtesy of MSU Physical Plant.

However, that still wasn’t enough space! In 1991, a new rear entrance was added to Agriculture Hall and a 27,000 square foot annex was added in 2000. This building is still used today and remains a main feature on MSU’s campus, but following the demolition of Morrill Hall in 2013, Ag Hall was renamed as the Justin S. Morrill Hall of Agriculture (Forsyth 2020d).

Left: Agriculture students in a lab, dated to 1918. Right: Crop class, dated to 1946. Images courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.

Image: Two-course stair structure uncovered by CAP in May, 2014 (CAP Report No. 43).

 In 2014, CAP was called to a construction site near Agricultural Hall on West Circle Drive, as crews had uncovered an intact stone and concrete feature adjacent to the building’s foundation (CAP Report No. 43). Upon further excavation, a two-course stair structure was uncovered, which may be a remnant of an earlier version of the building’s façade or the foundation of a structure that predated Agriculture Hall (CAP Report No. 43).

Although no other artifacts were found, it has been recommended that the foundation feature indicates the importance of this site to MSU’s history and so any future construction work in this area should be carefully monitored or investigated further (CAP Report No. 43).

Conclusion

We hope you have enjoyed this blog series on laboratory spaces at MSU! A closer look at how these spaces have been added and have grown with the departments on campus truly show how dedicated MSU has been to the advancement of research from the start. Although MSU struggled in its early years, research has always been a focal point, which continues to bring in students from around the world. It is no surprise that MSU has achieved R1 status and supports so many different research endeavors on campus today!

If you enjoyed this blog series, please check out our new StoryMap on MSU’s historic laboratories! StoryMap acts as a virtual tour and allows you to click through the different laboratory spaces and see where they are located on a map of today’s MSU campus! We hope this provides you with a better idea of where these laboratories were located in comparison to one another and how the campus expanded over time.

A screenshot of the MSU Laboratory Space StoryMap.
A screenshot of the MSU Laboratory Space StoryMap.

We really enjoyed exploring MSU’s different laboratories and can’t wait to explore other historic features of campus in our future blog posts!

Resources

  • Beal, W. J. 1915   History of the Michigan Agricultural College and biogeographical sketches of trustees and professors. Agricultural College, East Lansing, Michigan.
  • Frederick, Kate. 2013. Chittenden Hall Survey Report. MSU Campus Archaeology Program, Report No. 39, East Lansing, Michigan.
  • Frederick, Kate. 2014. Agricultural Hall Foundation Survey Report. MSU Campus Archaeology Program, Report No. 43, East Lansing, Michigan.
  • Forsyth, K. 2020a. Accessed at: https://kevinforsyth.net/ELMI/botany-lab.htm
  • Forsyth, K. 2020b. Accessed at: https://kevinforsyth.net/ELMI/dairy.htm
  • Forsyth, K. 2020c. Accessed at: https://kevinforsyth.net/ELMI/bac-lab.htm
  • Forsyth, K. 2020d. Accessed at: https://kevinforsyth.net/ELMI/ag-hall.htm
  • Meyers, Katy. 2013. Old Botany Greenhouse Survey Report. MSU Campus Archaeology Program, Report No. 18, East Lansing, Michigan.
  • Kuhn, M. 1955. Michigan State: The First Hundred Years. The Michigan State University Press, East Lansing.
Check Out “A Tour of MSU’s Historic Faculty Row,” Now Live!

Check Out “A Tour of MSU’s Historic Faculty Row,” Now Live!

Even during a quarantine, archaeology does not stop. While we have not been able to get out into the field until recently, we at CAP have been working hard to create historical background summaries of areas that will be impacted by construction (a critical part 

The History of Laboratory Space at MSU: Part IV

The History of Laboratory Space at MSU: Part IV

Welcome back to our blog series on research and historical laboratories on MSU’s campus! In our last blog we discussed how MSU branched out to expand their research to fields outside sciences directly related to agriculture, such as chemistry and botany, by creating a Mechanical 

The History of Laboratory Space at MSU: Part III

The History of Laboratory Space at MSU: Part III

Welcome back to our blog series on research and historical laboratories on MSU’s campus! In our last blog, we talked about the first two laboratories on campus, the Chemistry and Botanical Laboratories. Both laboratories highlight MSU’s commitment to agriculture, as a better understanding of the hard science as well as the plant species themselves likely directly impacted the types of plants and crops grown at the College and how they were cared for. As mentioned in the first blog of this series, Michigan was still trying to establish itself as a new state in the existing market and the research from early MSU, the only agricultural college in the state, must have made large contributions to the state’s efforts!

In fact, MSU quickly realized the benefit of their new laboratory spaces and soon began to expand beyond just agricultural research with the addition of the Mechanical Building and Laboratory Row. A look at these spaces demonstrates MSU’s strong research ethics across the board!

Mechanical Building (1885-1916, 1916-1966)

Upon the establishment of MSU, the College was tasked to teach a variety of hard sciences, “such branches of learning as are related to … the mechanical arts” (as cited in Kuhn 1955:146). But the adoption of a curriculum in the mechanical arts, besides a few courses related to farming, was slow. At first, the College just didn’t have funds – if they were to offer a degree in mechanical arts to the level of their agricultural one, the College would need a wood-shop, a foundry, and a metal-finishing shop at minimum (Kuhn 1955:146). However, even when the College overcame their financial insecurity, friends of the College objected to the creation of the new degree – what if students chose mechanical arts over agriculture?

This all changed when Hon. Edwin Willits took over as a new president of the university. Willits recognized the importance of a degree in mechanical arts and refused to take office unless the College agreed to fund one! Not only was his request fulfilled, but the College received $17,000 for one new building and a salary for a professor of Mechanics (Kuhn 1955:147).

Mechanical Building, dated to 1888. Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.
Mechanical Building, dated to 1888. Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.

With the necessary funds available, a new structure of engineering shops, known as the Mechanical Building, was constructed in 1885, southeast of College Hall (Forsyth 2020a). The Mechanical Building included office spaces, a woodshop, a blacksmith shop, an iron shop, a brass foundry, and an iron foundry – this enabled the students to “carry a machine from the drawing-board through the wood pattern to the casting and the finished machine” (Kuhn 1955:148). While much of the first decade was spent creating new tools for the shops, including an electric motor, the shops were open for personal projects on Saturdays, which allowed the students to build and sell folding beds for dorm rooms (Kuhn 1955:148).

Left: Interior of machine or mechanical shop, dated to 1888. Right: College of Engineering Shop, undated photograph. Images courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.

Although the program began as part of a general Mechanical Department, soon other courses were added to the basic curriculum. In 1901, an option of civil engineering coursework became available for juniors and seniors. A course catalogue from 1906 stands as the first evidence of the College offering courses in electrical engineering, but they must have been a huge success as just one year later the Mechanical Department formally changed to the Engineering Department (Beal 1915:149). Although mathematics and civil engineering later split from the Engineering Department, it continued to house civil engineering, drawing and design, mechanical engineering, physics, and electrical engineering (Beal 1915:149) – quite a selection for potential students of the College! The department grew so fast that a separate Engineering Building had to be built in the adjacent plot in 1907 in order to accommodate office and shop space for each of the different courses.

Unfortunately, on March 5, 1916, a fire broke out in the shops that burnt down both the Mechanical Building and the Engineering Building (Forsyth 2020a). Little could be salvaged from the fire, but luckily, due to a donation from Ransom E. Olds, the college was able to rebuild the Shops, as well as a new Forge and Foundry (Forsyth 2020a). The new buildings were built and ready that same year – clearly, the College recognized the importance of the Engineering Department and the need for working shops!

Forge and Foundry, dated to 1934. Image courtesy of MSU Physical Plant.
Forge and Foundry, dated to 1934. Image courtesy of MSU Physical Plant.

Over time, the Engineering Department has grown and changed to reflect its current mission, but shifts in the curriculum and the ability to relocate buildings across campus affected the continued use of the Mechanical Building. Today, only Olds Hall and the Electric Engineering Building remain, as the rest were torn down in 1966-68 to create space for the new Hannah Administration Building (Forsyth 2020a). Although the old shops are no longer a feature on campus, their growth in both space and courses offered highlights MSU’s efforts to increase research and hands-on learning across their curricula and not just those related to agriculture!

In 2010, CAP had the opportunity to perform a series of shovel tests around the current Hannah Administration Building, the plot of the old Mechanical Building (CAP Report No. 27). During this excavation, historical artifacts including glass, ceramic, brick, coal, and drain tile were uncovered (CAP Report No. 27). It is likely that these artifacts hail from the shops that previously rested on this plot of land! No further excavation has taken place in this region of campus to date, but it has been recommended that any future construction work be carefully monitored due to the high abundance of artifacts found in the 2010 shovel testing.

Laboratory Row

The need for more laboratory space for a multitude of departments soon became apparent, as curricula began to shift to purse the more hands-on approach already fostered within the Chemistry Department and Mechanical Arts. This need led to the construction of Laboratory Row, a row of seven separate buildings, constructed over a twenty-four-year period, which provided laboratory spaces for a variety of different departments. Construction began in 1885 with the Veterinary Laboratory and finished in 1909 with the addition of the new Agriculture Hall.

Laboratory Row, dated to 1912. From left: Horticulture, Bacteriology, Botany, Dairy, Entomology, and Agriculture (Veterinary is out of view to the right). Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Laboratory Row, dated to 1912. From left: Horticulture, Bacteriology, Botany, Dairy, Entomology, and Agriculture (Veterinary is out of view to the right). Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

As time passed, most of these departments moved away to larger replacements elsewhere on campus, calling into question the need for these buildings. In fact, in the early 1920s, several plans were made to demolish the row, including plans made by T. Glenn Phillips in 1926 to replace the row with one single building with double-wing offices and classrooms (Forsyth 2020b). However, this plan did not come to fruition due to a lack of funds. Another attempt to replace the row with a single large building for the Basic College (Social Science, Humanities, etc.) was put forth in 1958, but was never executed. Today, the remaining six buildings are still in use and are included in the State Historic Register (Forsyth 2020b).

While the buildings on Laboratory Row do not necessarily house the departments they were built for anymore, their creation demonstrates the College’s efforts to increase research in all departments! To learn more about the departments included in Laboratory Row, join us next week for the next part of this blog series!

Resources

  • Beal, W. J. 1915   History of the Michigan Agricultural College and biogeographical sketches of trustees and professors. Agricultural College, East Lansing, Michigan.
  • Forsyth, K. 2020a. Accessed at: https://kevinforsyth.net/ELMI/engineering-shops.htm
  • Forsyth, K. 2020b. Accessed at: https://kevinforsyth.net/ELMI/laboratory-row.htm
  • Kuhn, M. 1955. Michigan State: The First Hundred Years. The Michigan State University Press, East Lansing.
  • Stawski, C. 2010. Administration Building Survey Report. MSU Campus Archaeology Program, Report No. 27, East Lansing, Michigan.

THE HISTORY OF LABORATORY SPACE AT MSU: PART II

THE HISTORY OF LABORATORY SPACE AT MSU: PART II

Welcome back to our blog series on research and historical laboratories on MSU’s campus! In our last blog, we outlined how the university gained its start with an emphasis on scientific research and its uses for agriculture. Although the College used as much of its 

MSU Campus Archaeology Program Director’s Statement

MSU Campus Archaeology Program Director’s Statement

Since March 2020, our world here in Michigan and in the United States has come undone. Inequities invisible to some but known and repeatedly experienced by people of color, particularly Black Michiganders, in the past and present have been laid bare before our feet. To 

The History of Laboratory Space at MSU: Part I

The History of Laboratory Space at MSU: Part I

We are all familiar with Michigan State University’s (MSU) status as a part of the top ten conference (Go Spartans!) and for its place as a top tier research university (recently ranked in the top 8% nationwide). In fact, MSU offers 170 degrees for undergraduate students, 275 degrees for graduate students, and 12 graduate professional degrees (MSU Office of the Registrar) – it is clear that our university goes above and beyond to foster research across all disciplines!

Here at Campus Archaeology, we recognize that MSU’s positive mindset towards research is not new but has been a tenet of this university since its establishment in 1855. Therefore, in order to highlight how this passion for research shaped MSU’s early history, we are dedicating our next Blog Post Series to an overview of the first laboratories on MSU’s campus.

Introduction to Scientific Research at MSU

Originally known as the Michigan Agricultural College (MAC), the school was founded in 1855 in order to create an institution entirely dedicated to scientific agriculture, as farming was the leading profession in Michigan at the time. This need for formal instruction in agriculture may seem strange because farming is traditionally learned through familiarity and hands-on experience, but new research in soil chemistry, such as the chemicals essential to plant life (lime, iron, potash, magnesia, and silica), demonstrated the importance of science at a time when Michigan was still establishing itself as a new state (Kuhn 1955:3). Scientific instruction seemed the perfect way to revolutionize farming and earn Michigan a place within the already established market.

Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University) campus map on "Opening Date" in 1855. Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.
Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University) campus map on the “Opening Date” – May 13, 1857. Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.

While some schools in the United States offered training in the sciences, courses were few and far between – and inadequate without any hands-on instruction. The Michigan State Agricultural Society felt that if they could foster the creation of a new school, they could develop a unique curriculum that focused on hands-on scientific learning rather than just textbooks or lectures (Kuhn 1955:8). While other existing schools, including the University of Michigan, argued that they could and should offer the scientific agricultural program, the Society believed only a new college could provide the flexibility to develop a scientific curriculum, as well as provide the necessary lands and instructors. With tremendous support from John C. Holmes, funds for a new college were finally approved and the process to form the MAC began.

The MAC’s efforts to establish itself as a unique institution were clear from the start, as the MAC actively deviated from traditional classical education and instead offered a curriculum based primarily on training students in the following disciplines:

Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, Botany, Animal and Vegetable Anatomy and Physiology, Geology, Mineralogy, Entomology, Veterinary Art, Mensuration, Leveling and Political Economy, with Book-Keeping and the Mechanic Arts which are directly connected with agriculture

(as cited by Kuhn 1955:10).

Unfortunately, such a curriculum required proper equipment and laboratory space that was not easily attainable during the first years of the College – more funds had been used to build the first lecture and dorm halls than anticipated (Kuhn 1955:13). Luckily, the MAC’s passion for scientific instruction and strong spirit kept the College running until enrollment increased and funding could be attained.

College Hall

When the MAC first formed, the College heavily relied on the insight of Holmes, who had led the push for the creation of the College, and asked him to design the curriculum. Holmes firmly believed that a degree from the MAC should be attainable for students of all backgrounds and so pushed for free tuition, assuming that the farm lands owned by the College would provide enough profit.

Image: John C. Holmes, dated to 1888. Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.

However, by 1859, just four years after the College was established, funds were completely depleted due to the heavy costs of building the first few halls and an endless need for repairs (Kuhn 1955:48). The farm did little to assist the College, as it had to be started from scratch and Holmes had decided that students should be paid for their labor. Needless to say, the first few years of the College were a fight for survival.

College Hall surrounded by tree stumps, dated to 1957. Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.
College Hall surrounded by tree stumps, dated to 1957. Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.

Without any funds, the first laboratory on campus – the Chemistry Laboratory – was located on the first floor of College Hall, the only instructional building on MSU’s campus until 1870 (Kuhn 1955:13). However, this decision was not entirely due to a lack of funds, as the College did not know any better – other science courses, even those at Harvard, were taught solely through lectures and textbook learning and thus did not need any special accommodations (Beal 1915:39). While a shared space sufficed for other universities, the College’s passion to teach science through hands-on instruction changed the dynamic of the curriculum and how students would interact with the subject directly (Beal 1915:39).

Blueprint of the first Floor of College Hall. Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.
Blueprint of the first Floor of College Hall. Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.

Luckily, under the guidance of Lewis Ransom Fisk (later Fiske), the first Professor of Chemistry at MSU and future pro term President of the College, instruction in chemistry soon became state of the art despite its location (Kuhn 1955:16).

Image: Professor L. R. Fiske (Kuhn 1955:20).

Having pursued graduate study and having taught chemistry for three years previously, Fiske argued for funds to furnish the laboratory with proper bench space, as well as $300 worth of chemicals and $2300 worth of equipment (~$8,850 and ~$67,800 today), which included actual chemicals, a static electric machine, and a balance scale (Kuhn 1955:16).

Thus students could perform and be tested via actual experimentation – a new and revolutionary method of instruction at the time!

While the use of chemicals actively challenged the students, the poor construction of College Hall provided the laboratory space with just two windows, which rarely provided enough light to work by and severely affected the ventilation, causing dangerous fumes to waft into other rooms and offices upstairs (Kuhn 1955:84). These structural issues limited the scope of instruction at the College and illustrated that a larger and more functional space was clearly needed.

Luckily, the College recognized the impact of this hands-on instruction and did everything in its power to provide a space and the equipment for scientific training and research. Tune in for our next blog where we will address how the College worked to increase laboratory space for its students!

Resources

  • Beal, W. J. 1915   History of the Michigan Agricultural College and biogeographical sketches of trustees and professors. Agricultural College, East Lansing, Michigan.
  • Kuhn, M. 1955. Michigan State: The First Hundred Years. The Michigan State University Press, East Lansing.
  • MSU Office of the Registrar. Accessed at: https://reg.msu.edu/AcademicPrograms/Programs.aspx?PType=UN
Digging Into The Past: Girl Scout Badge

Digging Into The Past: Girl Scout Badge

The Campus Archaeology Program has been hard at work this semester prepping for our collaborative event with Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan. The goal of this event is to teach young women about a career path in archaeology and award them with an archaeology badge