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 …
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 …
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 normal circumstances, our staff, which usually includes 6-8 PhD students, would be out on construction projects across campus during the summer. We spend our late winters and springs researching the areas of campus slated for construction so we know what we may find once the ground has been broken. We often do surveys of the landscape and, if we find artifacts or architecture, excavation before construction starts to see if they may be additional artifacts or cultural resources on the area slated for construction. We completed our research in the winter and spring for construction planned this summer, but then COVID-19 descended on our state and community, forcing nearly all workers on MSU’s enormous campus home to work remotely.
Despite the stress and uncertainty of the situation, our outgoing Campus Archaeologist, Autumn Painter, immediately adapted to the situation at hand and figured out creative, safe ways to keep Campus Archaeology running and our staff busy. Under Painter’s leadership, our staff put together fantastic research papers, reports, and innovative digital projects that we will be unveiling this coming year in lieu of the in-person outreach events we usually do. Despite our staff being locked out of their buildings and laboratories this summer, Painter made labwork happen by delivering the labwork to our staff’s doorsteps (with no contact, of course, and following all safety protocols).
Autumn Painter retired as our Campus Archaeologist this past July after serving two years in the role (we miss her already!) and putting in many years of time into Campus Archaeology as a fellow and undergraduate. We wish we could have celebrated her retirement in person, but we hope to do so when it’s safe. Jeff Burnett, a current PhD student and historical archaeologist in our department, is our new Campus Archaeologist, and he will be introducing himself in a blog post later this semester.
As our readers can probably guess, some archaeology cannot be done remotely. Archaeology is considered essential work due to federal compliance regulations, so many professional archaeologists have never stopped working in the field during the pandemic. This includes a few of us in Campus Archaeology. In late May, MSU began working on Service Road to install and extend utility lines. Within days of the project’s start, they hit a substantial archaeological midden, or, in non-archaeological jargon, a trash dump or landfill.
We received permission to have two of us – me, the Director of Campus Archaeology, and one Campus Archaeologist (Autumn or Jeff), work on the site. We completed the appropriate COVID-19 trainings and followed COVID-19 safety guidelines, including wearing a mask while out on the site, taking our temperatures before we came to the site and when we arrived at the site, and using our own field equipment instead of sharing it.
I shared my experience of working on this site with MSU’s Alumni University participants on my YouTube channel this past August. These videos touch upon what it is like to work on a construction project as an archaeologist, what does stratigraphy mean, how to excavate a delicate artifact, and what happens to artifacts once they are taken away from the construction site.
Though it was disappointing to not have our entire crew out investigating the site, we were very thankful for the entire construction crew on-site who were active participants in the project. They helped pull artifacts that they uncovered and put them aside so we could collect and study them. Mike Serafini of Strata Environmental Services, Incorporated corresponded with us daily to let us know how the work was proceeding and if they were hitting more of the archaeological midden during construction, which was a great help to us. Everyone on the site worked as collaborators and partners, sharing their knowledge of historic artifacts with us. It made our work easier given the restrictions and limited staffing we faced. We are so very thankful for all of the people with whom we worked and met this summer amid a stressful time.
We look forward to sharing our discoveries from this site with our followers this coming year as we continue to document MSU’s rich heritage. We also plan to follow through on our commitment to focusing on the diverse people who have been connected with MSU and to the promises we made in our blog earlier this summer. While we are not able to do in-person outreach events this fall, we have developed some exciting new digital content that will hopefully keep you (virtually) connected to MSU. We miss our beautiful campus and are looking forward to the day we can return in-person regularly. For now, we leave you with some photos of our discoveries this summer. Keep an eye out for more artifacts on our other social media platforms!
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 …
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 …
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 Shop Building. This space allowed students to get hands-on experience creating tools, such as a twelve horse-power engine, and helped to develop the Engineering Department! In fact, this program was so successful, in addition to the growth of chemistry and botany, that the College clearly recognized the importance of providing laboratory space to their other departments. This is illustrated by the creation of Laboratory Row, a row of seven buildings built over a 24-year period to hold laboratory space for different departments in the College.
Today, we will start exploring which buildings were added to Laboratory Row to see how research continued to boom on MSU’s campus!
Veterinary Laboratory (1885-1930)
While the Veterinary Laboratory has been talked in one of our previous blog posts, it is important to recognized how its laboratory space grew on campus! Veterinary coursework was seen as essential from the establishment of the College in 1855, as President Williams stated it was “fundamental to the very idea of an agricultural college” in his second report (as cited by Beal 1915:154). As farming and animal science depends on the ability to keep livestock alive and healthy, it is easy to understand the importance of veterinary science to the early College!
Although Veterinary Medicine did not become an official course of study until 1910, the College could not have functioned without it, which likely led the College to offer courses in the subject in the 1870s (Beal 1915:154). However, as these courses continued to be taught in the College, the need for laboratory space became more and more apparent. So it is no surprise that when the College found the necessary funds in 1885, the Veterinary Laboratory was the first building constructed for what would later be known as Laboratory Row.
Left: Veterinary Laboratory, dated to 1886. Right: Veterinary Medicine class, dated between 1890-1899. Images courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.
The Veterinary Laboratory was placed next to the Mechanical Shop (also built in 1885), southeast of College Hall. The first floor was used as an operating room for clinical instruction on College livestock, while the second floor contained an anatomy lab where a horse was dissected by the students each fall term (Forsyth 2020a). Furthermore, the Veterinary Laboratory even included an elevator to raise and lower animals between the two floors (Kuhn 1955:151)!
This location was fitting because it allowed the new laboratory to sit right next to the college farms where they used to sit north of the river, unlike campus today (Forsyth 2020a). These barns later moved to a more southerly location, still north of the river, between 1902 and 1908, which led to the creation of a new Veterinary Clinic (now Giltner Hall) in 1915 (Forysth 2020a). After this move, the old laboratory building transitioned to a space for human anatomy courses until it was torn down in the summer of 1930 during construction of the new, modernized Anatomy Building (Kuhn 1955:352).
No building has ever replaced the exact plot of old Veterinary Laboratory – the location today would rest west of Auditorium Road and north of the Computer Center parking lot. Due to this, CAP had the opportunity to excavate in this location in 2014. Check out our blog post on the Vet Lab excavation to learn more about what we found!
Horticulture Laboratory (1888-Present)
As would be expected for an agricultural institution, courses in horticulture were offered to students soon after the College was established. But the subject grew exponentially with the addition of Liberty Hyde Bailey to the faculty, who’s lectures were so popular that unregistered students would sit in (Kuhn 1955:151-2)! As both a botanist and horticulturalist, Bailey brought the laboratory mindset to horticulture, teaching students that plants could be advanced through “cross-breeding, by hybridization, by the ‘chance of growing seedlings,’ and by selection from the wild” (Kuhn 1955:152). Even Bailey’s predecessor, Levi Rawson Taft, kept up the scientific vigor, as he introduced Michigan to spraying orchards in order to curb disease (Kuhn 1855:153). It was clear that hands-on research was revolutionizing the field, but it was unheard of to provide laboratory space for horticulture.
While the efforts of the horticulture professors and students won over the College and a Horticulture Laboratory was built in 1888, it was the first of its kind in the United States (Forsyth 2020b)! With no preexisting model, the College did everything it could to provide the department with proper amenities, equipping the building with a classroom, laboratory, seed-room, heeling-in cellar, a dark room for photography, and a grafting room (Kuhn 1955:153). In fact, an additional four acres was provided, which Professor Bailey used to create a fruit garden to give students hands-on experience testing new varieties of small fruits. The garden even included a system of tile drainage placed underground (Beal 1915:88-89)!
Left: Horticulture class, dated to 1893. Right: Horticulture students, dated to 1884. Images courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.
Unfortunately, it became clear that the laboratory was not nearly large enough and so a new Horticulture Building was constructed in 1924 to provide more space and updated features. After the Horticulture Department moved to the new building, the original laboratory took in the Basic College (Social Sciences, Humanities, etc.) before then taking in the Honors College (Forsyth 2020b). In 1961, it was renamed in honor of Harry J. Eustace, the Chair of the Horticulture Department from 1908-1919, who aided in good storage and transport of food during the first World War (Forsyth 2020b). In 1999, a donation by Jeffrey and Kathryn Cole, former Honor students, allowed for a new set of renovations, which explains its current name of Eustace-Cole Hall (Forsyth 2020f).
In 2016, CAP had a chance to excavate near Old Horticulture. Check out our previous blog post to learn more about what we found!
Agriculture/Entomology Laboratory (1889-Present)
As the first education institution in the state dedicated to agriculture, the Agriculture Department played an essential role in the College – in fact, it was the only department until 1885 (Beal 1915:135). And even after other curricula were offered at the College, Agriculture still housed the most equipment for instruction, was the most strongly advertised throughout the state, and earned $15,000 per year, starting in 1887, for the College for experimental work (Beal 1915:135; Kuhn 1955:162). As a role model for Land Grant universities across the nation, MSU has always taken its dedication to agriculture seriously!
In 1889, the College finally provided Agriculture with its own building so that the subject could take advantage of laboratory work in addition to its efforts outdoors (Forsyth 202c). However, considering the strong focus of agriculture in the College, it quickly became clear that the building did not provide nearly enough space for proper instruction and learning. Therefore, just twenty years later, a new Agriculture Hall was constructed that was over three times the size of the original building and the “old” Agriculture Laboratory became the Entomology Laboratory (Forsyth 2020c). Luckily the space was an adequate upgrade for the Entomology Department, who stayed in this building until the new Natural Science Building was added to campus in 1948.
Left: Agriculture Class, undated photograph. Right: New “Entomology” façade on the original Agricultural Laboratory. Images courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.
Although it no longer held the Entomology Department, in order to celebrate their research in that laboratory space it was renamed in 1969 to honor Dr. Albert Cook, the Professor of Zoology and Entomology from 1868-1893 and the first curator of the museum (Forsyth 2020c). Cook’s Collection of Insects, originally housed in the museum, were moved to an annex at the rear of the Entomology Laboratory in the 1930s, but have since moved to the fourth floor of the Natural Sciences Building (Forsyth 2020c). The Entomology Laboratory was renovated in 1998 and has altered its function to house offices for graduate students in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Recently, another set of renovations were completed in 2018-2019 thanks to a donation by Gary Seevers, a previous animal science and agricultural student, which led to the building’s current name: Cook-Seevers Hall (MSU Today 2019).
In 2014, CAP was called to the southwest side of Cook-Seevers Hall for a salvage excavation, as a short length of brick wall was uncovered by a construction crew (CAP Report No. 48). Upon further excavation, CAP team members exposed a large metal drum with metal pipes connecting the drum to the foundation of Cook Hall – a cistern! To learn more about this cistern and how they were used on campus, check out our Cook Hall Blog Post!
The creation of Laboratory Row was a big step for MSU in terms of research. But maybe not quite big enough because all three departments housed first on Laboratory Row later required even more space! MSU was a pioneer in providing laboratory space for numerous departments on campus and so needed a few tries – and more funding – to provide the right amount of space for their departments, but the ability of the College to meet these demands for space demonstrates its commitment to providing its students with hands-on opportunities and facilitating state-of-the-art research!
Join us next week to learn about the last four laboratories built as a part of Laboratory Row!
- Beal, W. J. 1915 History of the Michigan Agricultural College and biogeographical sketches of trustees and professors. Agricultural College, East Lansing, Michigan.
- Frederick, Kate. 2014. Cook Hall Cistern Survey Report. MSU Campus Archaeology Program, Report No. 48, East Lansing, Michigan.
- Forsyth, K. 2020a. Accessed at: https://kevinforsyth.net/ELMI/vet-lab.htm
- Forsyth, K. 2020b. Accessed at: https://kevinforsyth.net/ELMI/hort-lab.htm
- Forsyth, K. 2020c. Accessed at: https://kevinforsyth.net/ELMI/ag-lab.htm
- Kuhn, M. 1955. Michigan State: The First Hundred Years. The Michigan State University Press, East Lansing
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 …
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 …
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 date, 18,229 Black Michiganders, who constitute 14.1% of the state’s population, have contracted COVID-19. In contrast, 21,968 White Michiganders have contracted COVID-19, while they make up 79.3% of the state. 2,897 White Michiganders have died of COVID-19, while 2,248 Black Michiganders have passed of it to date. To state it bluntly, COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Black Americans in our state.
These gross inequities are the result of systemic racial violence enacted against communities of color in our state and country. Black communities are more likely to be subjected to police and government surveillance as well as policing tactics that involve the use of militarized equipment and technologies that increase rather than decrease the likelihood of injury and death. Black Americans constitute 40% of the incarcerated population while they represent only 13% of the American population. Black men are more likely to die at the hands of police than any other group of people in the United States. Exacerbating these issues is the fact that Black communities in Michigan are less likely to have access to clean water, food, and affordable healthcare, medication, and housing.
Black Americans who have kept the state and country operating and safe amid COVID-19 have also been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Jason Hargrove, a bus driver in Detroit who worked during the pandemic, lost his life to COVID-19 after a woman passenger on his bus coughed near him without covering her face. In other states, Blacks on the front lines have also faced the dual injustices of experiencing racism and violence while potentially sacrificing their lives working during a pandemic. Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician (EMT) working to save lives during the COVID-19 crisis, was shot while sleeping in her home in Kentucky by police. Her family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the wake of her death. Even when Black Americans have sought to help others in the most trying of times, they are still faced with the ugly stain of racism that we should all be decrying in this country.
We, at CAP, recognize Black communities are already acutely aware of these statistics and lived realities. We are writing because we are making a promise to make internal changes to work towards addressing and eradicating white supremacy in our work, in the culture of the archaeologists we train, and in academia as a whole. Though we are still working on identifying how we can better serve communities of color on MSU’s campus in the coming years, we commit to enacting the following policies in the year to come:
- Diversity training when new staff join CAP that is evidence-based and confronts the specific legacy of racism and sexual harassment in the discipline of archaeology.
- Listening sessions with the students and communities of color we serve on and off-campus to inform and improve programming and outreach work.
- Dedicating a minimum of one blog post a month during the academic year to the history of communities of color on MSU’s campus and/or identifying and amplifying the work of archaeologists of color.
- A lecture on the history of race relations on campus at the beginning of every CAP field archaeology school.
We, at the MSU Campus Archaeology Program, have spent much of this year in reflection regarding our role on campus and in a society rife with violence. We underserve some communities and overserve others. As we move forward, we refuse to be bystanders to the violence enacted against Black Americans and people of color. We pledge to do better, to learn and listen, and, in doing so, stand with the Black Lives Movement.
For those of you who wish to join us in working towards justice and equality, we encourage you to read critical interventions on the archaeology of African Americans, the African diaspora, and on the archaeology of race. Our list is just a small sample of the many readings out there on this topic. We intend to expand upon it in the coming months and we welcome suggested additions to the list.
Dr. Stacey L. Camp and the CAP Staff
Tobacco, Pipes, and Race in Colonial Virginia by Anna S. Agbe-Davies
The Materiality of Freedom: Archaeologies of Postemancipation Life edited by Jodi A. Barnes
Black Feminist Archaeology by Whitney Battle-Baptiste
The Taphonomy of Disaster and the (Re)Formation of New Orleans by Shannon Lee Dawdy
Toward an Antiracist Archaeology by Mia L. Carey
Assessing Heritage Resources in St. Croix Post‐Hurricanes Irma and Maria by Justin P. Dunnavant, Ayana Omilade Flewellen, Alexandra Jones, Alicia Odewale, and William White
Critical Race Theory and the Archaeology of the African Diaspora by Terrence Epperson
A Black Feminist-Inspired Archaeology? by Maria Franklin
The Rosewood Massacre: An Archaeology and History of Intersectional Violence by Edward González-Tennant
Free Black Communities and the Underground Railroad: The Geography of Resistance by Cheryl Janifer LaRoche
Archaeologies of Race and Urban Poverty: The Politics of Slumming, Engagement, and the Color Line by Paul R. Mullins and Lewis C. Jones
Archaeology for the Next Generation by Alicia Odewale, Justin Dunnavant, Ayana Flewellen, and Alexandra Jones
The Archaeology of Race and Racialization in Historic America by Charles E. Orser, Jr.
Detroit 139: Archaeology and the Future-Making of a Post- Industrial City by Krysta Ryzewski
Slavery behind the Wall: An Archaeology of a Cuban Coffee Plantation by Theresa A. Singleton
The Archaeology of Antislavery Resistance by Terrance Weik
The Archaeology of Mothering: An African-American Midwife’s Tale by Laurie Wilkie
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 …