CAPBlog

Starting the New Semester and Attending SHA 2021

Starting the New Semester and Attending SHA 2021

Over the next few days MSU will be welcoming some students back and opening up for some in-person and many virtual classes.  For CAP, the beginning of a new semester would typically mean welcoming new undergraduate interns, preparing outreach events, and jumping back into our 

CAP Fellows Reflect on a Society for Historical Archaeology Anti-racism Training

CAP Fellows Reflect on a Society for Historical Archaeology Anti-racism Training

In this blog post CAP fellows share our reflections on an anti-racism, anti-bias training we took on Friday October 30th . The training was sponsored by the Society for Historical Archaeology and dozens of archaeologists, educators, and heritage professionals participated in the four hour session. 

The Haunted Tour Re-CAP: Going Virtual in the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Haunted Tour Re-CAP: Going Virtual in the COVID-19 Pandemic

With COVID-19 still dictating much of our day-to-day lives, Campus Archaeology made the early call to put all of our outreach events for the foreseeable future online or in some digital format. One of our most popular and fun events we put on is the annual Apparitions and Archaeology Haunted Campus Tour. This usually takes place in the week before Halloween. This year, we made our haunted tour a virtual event that occurred in the form of videos, a choose-your-own-path digital tour, and a live panel Q&A session. This event was facilitated by the MSU Alumni Office and hosted by CAP director Dr. Stacey L. Camp along with the CAP Fellows and Brienna Shear, Co-President of the MSU Paranormal Society.

In the usual in-person event, CAP Fellows and MSU Paranormal Society members are stationed at the “haunted” locations on campus. At each stop CAP and Paranormal Society speakers relay the history, archaeology, and reported hauntings to audience members who then move on to a new stop. In preparation for this year’s virtual event, CAP released a new choose-your-own path digital tour (made through Twine).

The benefit of this version of the tour was that CAP was able to add much more historical, archaeological, and contextual information to each of the stops than we could possibly share the in-person event. This new information includes descriptions of historical campus figures, artifacts, student life, and even administrative and construction accounts that played a part in the shaping of campus. Additionally, Elizabeth Schondelmayer, the Communications Coordinator for the College of Social Sciences created a spooky trailer for the event while Devante Kennedy, the Digital Production Lead for the Alumni Office, helped CAP create a haunted tour video.

Map of some of the stops on the Apparitions and Archaeology: A Haunted Campus Tour. Map by Jack A. Biggs

As mentioned above, CAP hosted a live Q&A session on Wednesday the 28th, the same night the in-person event would have occurred. After some technical difficulties getting started (archaeologists are more comfortable around dirt and old artifacts than computers!), viewers who joined in were able to ask the panel questions about the history or hauntings of campus. While we love doing the in-person event, this virtual format afforded some great advantages.

First, we were able to have a much more open dialogue with the audience. During the normal in-person event, speakers are not afforded much time to answer questions about specific locations or paranormal experiences. Speakers at each site present quick spiel of the history and hauntings and there is time for maybe one or two questions before the next group of attendees arrives. The virtual panel hosted on October 28th gave the audience the ability to ask many more questions, even if they were submitted beforehand, and allowed us (the panel) to answer to a degree or depth for which we normally wouldn’t have the time.

Secondly, and related to the first point, the panel format allowed a much larger breadth of questions. In the in-person event, the few questions there is time for are usually related to the specific site or location where the speakers and attendees are. Hosting a virtual Q&A session meant that people could ask any question they wanted about our normally discussed sites, different areas on campus that they may have a connection to, campus history in general, our experiences within Campus Archaeology, and even about hauntings in other areas of campus. The amount and range of topics we were asked about could have only been addressed in this digital format.

Screenshot of a page on the Twine Haunted Tour.

Lastly, the virtual event meant that attendees did not even have to be in the East Lansing area to attend. While the pandemic has been rough on us all, it has simultaneously made everyone rethink how to best communicate and share information with each other. As a result, some of the attendees for the event may have even been on the other side of the country! This means that while we may all prefer in-person events, the Covid-19 pandemic has not stopped us from sharing fascinating histories, accounts, and artifacts from MSU’s campus.

While the in-person Haunted Tour is always one of our favorites to host, the virtual Q&A session gave us the opportunity for a more in-depth and personal dialogue with attendees. Hopefully, this pandemic will come to a swift end so that we can get back to “normal”. Until that time, though, CAP is committed to public outreach in the safest and most impactful way possible.

If you happened to miss the event or would like re-watch any of the videos or take our Twine Tour, please click on the links below!

Being and Belonging at State: Investigating Our History of Diversity and Inclusion

Being and Belonging at State: Investigating Our History of Diversity and Inclusion

In the wake of Black Lives Matter movement, started by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi in 2013 (Herstory 2020) and the mounting calls to reform and rethink institutions of all kinds, colleges and universities throughout the United States have responded by calling attention 

Revealing the new APPARITIONS and ARCHAEOLOGY Virtual HAUNTED CAMPUS TOUR

Revealing the new APPARITIONS and ARCHAEOLOGY Virtual HAUNTED CAMPUS TOUR

Happy October! We hope everyone is doing well and is staying safe! Things are definitely looking a little different here this fall, as MSU has made the decision to stay remote for the entire semester. As our director, Dr. Camp, mentioned in her blog post 

INTRODUCING OUR 2020-2021 CAP GRADUATE FELLOWS

INTRODUCING OUR 2020-2021 CAP GRADUATE FELLOWS

Thank you Autumn Painter, outgoing Campus Archaeologist:

Autumn Painter, 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 in a new Campus Archaeologist and a cohort of new and returning graduate fellows.

Campus Archaeologist:

Photograph of Jeff Burnett sitting, hands clasped, at a table.

Jeff Burnett: Jeff (he/him/his) is a third-year Ph.D. student in the department of Anthropology. After two years as a CAP fellow, this fall Jeff begins his first term as the Campus Archaeologist. His research focuses on the archaeology African Diaspora in the 19th and 20th centuries and using community-based practices to explore the intersections of class and race in the construction, maintenance, and memorialization of place and space in the United States. This year Jeff will be working with other fellows on their projects, helping to rethink our outreach in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and studying the archaeological and historical presence of children on MSU’s campus.

Campus Archaeology Program Graduate Fellows:

Photograph of Benjamin Akey looking down at an artifact in their hands.

Benjamin Akey: Benjamin (they/them/theirs) is a second-year doctoral student and graduate research assistant, with a focus on North American historical archaeology. They received their BA in Anthropology from University of California Santa Cruz in 2018, where they wrote a thesis on identity formation and the (re)production of consent for capitalist modes of accumulation through patterns of alcohol consumption in the Santa Cruz lime industry. They currently focus on the intersection of company-town labor regimes and the formation of specific radicalized, classed, and gendered identities among Japanese-American communities in the early 20th century. Benjamin joined CAP as a fellow in Fall 2019, and is particularly looking forward to continuing to develop outreach skills, doing archival research, and report writing.


Photograph of Jack Biggs crawling out of the mouth of a cave.

Jack Biggs: Jack (he/him/his) is a seventh year Ph.D. candidate, specializing in Biological Anthropology and is a returning CAP fellow (after a year hiatus). His research is focused on the ancient Maya of Mesoamerica and how their cultural ideas of age, identity, and cosmology intersect and record themselves within their bones and teeth. As a big proponent of using 3D technologies to teach and show others about MSU’s cultural heritage, Jack is hoping to use this skillset to bolster CAP’s digital outreach during the current COVID-19 crisis so that anyone can have access to the rich history beneath our feet.


Photograph of Rhian Dunn hand-mapping at a table.

Rhian Dunn: Rhian (she/her/hers) is a second year biological anthropology doctoral student, focusing in forensic anthropology. Her research interests include human variation and improving aspects of the biological profile (i.e., human identification). Rhian is starting her second year as a CAP fellow and hopes to continue getting more experience in archaeological surveying and with identifying historical artifacts. She is also interested in public outreach and archival data used to provide context for archaeological work. 


Photograph of Emily Milton with a camera in front of a vista of the Atacama desert.

Emily Milton: Emily (she/her/hers) is a second-year dual-degree doctoral student in Anthropology and Environmental Science and Policy. Her research combines archaeology and paleoclimatology to study how human use of mountain landscapes has changed since the last ice age. This is Emily’s first year as a CAP fellow. She is excited to engage with CAP’s existing public outreach events by helping to transfer in-person experiences online.   


Photograph of Amber Plemons using a total station to take measurements of a coffin.

Amber Plemons: Amber (she/her/hers) is a fifth year Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology, focusing in Biological Anthropology. This is her third year serving as a CAP fellow. Her research focuses on understanding the causative forces of human variation in craniofacial morphology, specifically the impacts of climate and genetics. Amber assisted in building a database for CAP artifacts recovered and housed at Michigan State University and aims to continue to improve and modify the database and prepare a public searchable front end for the database this year. Additionally, she will continue her work with the Girl Scouts organization to teach the future women of archaeology by creating an online platform and help with other CAP duties, such as site research, report writing, and researching the history of minorities on MSU campus.

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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 

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 of archaeology, as it helps us to understand what might be impacted and what we might find in the field) as well as develop new outreach activities that can be done at home. One method through which we can share our work are story maps, created using the open access StoryMapJS tool created by Northwestern University’s Knight Lab.

Today, we wish to share with you a StoryMap that tells the tale of Faculty Row, a historic neighborhood that once occupied part of MSU’s campus. As you can probably tell from the name, this neighborhood served as a home for the permanent faculty and staff, before the development of East Lansing. While it was a home for faculty, Faculty Row was also a central hub of activity on the early campus, as there were few other diversions for students in those days. Faculty often invited students into their homes, and students often included Faculty Row in their yearly rituals, such as serenading Faculty Row as part of the night shirt parade (Kuhn 1955:210). In this story, we provide you with some of this background, as well as highlight each home that was part of Faculty Row.

Screenshot of the home page for the Faculty Row StoryMap

You can find our StoryMap, “A Tour of MSU’s Historic Faculty Row,” by clicking here and under the “digital cultural heritage” tab on our website. We hope you enjoy it, and we hope that next time you are on West Circle Drive you are able to imagine the sleepy college neighborhood that once stood there.

References Cited

Kuhn, Madison
1955   Michigan State: The First Hundred Years.  The Michigan State University Press, East    Lansing.

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