CAP Featured In the SHA Newsletter, Winter 2020

CAP Featured In the SHA Newsletter, Winter 2020

In December of 2020, CAP was proud to be included in the Society for Historical Archaeology’s (SHA) Newsletter for winter 2020 (download here). In an article written by CAP director Dr. Stacey L. Camp, former Campus Archaeologist Autumn Painter, and current Campus Archaeologist Jeff Burnett, 

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

Poster from a panel discussion on archaeology in the time of Black Lives Matter from June 25, 2020. Discussants included Maria Franklin, Justin Dunnavant, Alexandria Jones, Alicia Odewale, and Tsione Wolde-Michael. It was chaired by Ayana Flewellen.
Poster from a panel discussion on archaeology in the time of Black Lives Matter from June 25, 2020.

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. We decided to share out thoughts in a single blog post. This and other recent discussions of anti-racism in archaeology have gained traction and institutional support in part because of the confluence of the Black Lives Matter movement, continued instances of police brutality and the murders of Black women and women by police, the COVID-19 pandemic disporotiantly affecting Black, Indigenous, and communities of color, and increasing numbers of Black archaeologists (Franklin et al. 2020).

The training we attended is relevant because it directly asks how can we as induvial work to make organizations anti-racist? How can we take increased pressure and institutional support of anti-racism and produce social social change within and beyond the discipline of archeology. Additional resources are listed at the bottom of this post.

Each fellow authored their own section in their voice, highlighting what stood out or was important to them. While independent, these reflections represent CAP’s ongoing commitment to ensuring our work and organization is equable and inclusive and that we work to make archaeology a better place for everyone.

The Society of Historical Archaeology’s workshop on “Strengthening Anti-racist and Anti-bias Mindsets” represents a cohesive movement within the field of archaeology to push beyond many of the racist and colonizing notions that shaped the establishment of archaeology, and anthropology as a whole, and still do today. With the current sociopolitical climate, it is beyond time to address these issues that are rampant across the field. I believe this workshop created a valuable opportunity to meet with other professionals in the field of archaeology to exchange ideas and concerns about how archaeology currently functions.

There is a lot to sort through, as it is high time we engage students in all communities so that a career path in archaeology is not accessible to only a portion of the population. But this path is not clear cut and a chance to hear the experiences of others in the SHA brought forth important reminders of ways we can focus our efforts here in Campus Archaeology. We need to identify and confront identity fragility, normativity, neutrality, and privilege already present in our organizations and institutions to ensure archaeology is a welcoming and inclusive environment and career for all. We need to provide engagement opportunities that are accessible and affordable in order to create a space where all students can get involved and develop their own passion and goals for the field. If we ensure that our field and our Campus Archaeology program is fostering a system that welcomes all interested persons, we can move away from the perpetuation of racism and exclusivity.

The Anti-Racism training hosted by the Society for Historical Archaeology on November 30th provided an engaging opportunity to consider how archaeological practice and professional spaces can engage with conversations surrounding restorative justice and reckon with elements of pervasive anti-Black racism. I particularly enjoyed discussions surrounding identity normativity, neutrality, and fragility and how these dynamics impact archaeological practice and conduct in professional spaces. This discussion highlighted the need to address the racist structures and frameworks within the discipline of anthropology, in both the content and practice of archaeological work and the dynamics of professional spaces we occupy (classrooms, conferences, cultural resource management [CRM] job sites, etc.).  

Overall, the discussions prompted me to reflect on what CAP could do to ensure equitable access to outreach events and to direct attention to issues of race and discrimination in Michigan State University’s past and present. I think my most important takeaway from the event was the notion that Anti-racist work within archaeology cannot be solved with any straight forward set of steps–it requires sustained and repeated acts of critical self and organizational reflection, as well as planning concrete steps of action that address specific areas of concern. This requires opening avenues for listening to Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and their experiences within and outside of the discipline in order to consider how the SHA, and archaeology more broadly, can seek to be actively anti-racist. The document provided as a follow-up to the event will serve as a useful resource to return to throughout my experience in graduate school and beyond.

The SHA webinar on Anti-Racism and Anti-bias held on October 30th was incredibly interesting, informative, and enlightening. It is very easy to say that you will not be racist or biased in your actions or research. However, this workshop highlighted the mass of complexities that go into putting those thoughts into practice. One aspect discussed that I found particularly interesting was the notion of inherent biases in academic conferences. While in my mind, these conferences always appeared as open spaces for free discussion, exchange of ideas, and overall general inclusion. However, it was discussed that even being able to attend these conferences is itself a privilege. They are usually located in large “exciting” cities which are always more costly to eat, drink, and stay in. Additionally, travel costs are usually high. While professors with permanent jobs at research institutions usually have the funds to attend these conferences, graduate students often do not. We usually have to apply for travel funds from a small pool of money within the department and even then, sometimes only minimal costs are able to be covered, meaning that we must make up much of the money for these trips ourselves.

While I always love attending conferences, I now see that even being able to attend one is a privilege I have had over other graduate students, most notably Black, Indigenous, and other students of color. These students deal with inherent structural biases that I have had the privilege of not enduring. This makes it more difficult for them to engage in conferences and networking events which can play a big part in career trajectories and opportunities. The proliferation of digital workshops and webinars in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as this one we attended, is a step towards undoing this unintentional bias. Having more open discussions tackling these issues and just having more opportunities to share our ideas in these digital platforms overall will definitely shape the way academic conferences function in the future. In this way, there will be more equal opportunity for students of color to be in conversations that I now realize were in spaces that could be exclusionary, even if the purpose was for open and unbiased dialogues. However, once we get back to “normal”, it will be up to us to come up with solutions that are not biased against students and researchers of color, even if that bias was unintentional.

The SHA’s anti-racism training we attended on November 30th focused on making our organization anti-racist through individual actions and behaviors. At the beginning the trainers framed the goals of “becoming anti-racist organizations” as ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workspace and in the SHA in general. They recommended that we start by using the tools developed in the training to make small, actionable goals and build off those. The training was also framed by a series of questions: What does it mean to diversity? Why is there pressure now? What are the dangers or challenges in institution-based DEI efforts? Unlike other trainings I have been to, there was a sense of urgency and a commitment from all participants. In answering these questions in the large group in in break out groups one topic that came up was the need for organizations and individuals to step out of their comfort zones when working to be anti-racist. This resonated with me because of how easy it to continue doing things as they have always been done and how uncritically doing that continues structures of inequality and oppression. At CAP we have been reflecting on our youth outreach and which schools we have over-served in the past and which we have underserved. This has been due to access, proximity, connections, and comfort/tradition, not intentional, but it does present a bias in our outreach programing. The training provided added emphasis and tools to reflect on this and to alter out patterns of outreach.

I appreciated that the training ended with a discussion of action items we as participants and members of organizations could commit to. This allowed me to witness and reflect on what we must do to affect change in the discipline of archaeology and in CAP. Sharing and hearing suggestions from other archaeologists gave me a sense of grounding in this, that others were also committed to it and that there were many things to do. While daunting, it also generated lots of hope because people seemed willing to listen and makes these changes.

The recent training through the Society for Historical Archaeology aimed to gather professionals for an engaged discussion on anti-racism and anti-bias in archaeology. The training was largely interactive to encourage open dialogue on the major issue presented throughout the 4-hour seminar. Attendees participated in intermittent breakout groups to present and discuss ideas on how to improve on the major topics and issues in the discipline, fieldwork, academic settings, and conferences. I found the training thought provoking and appreciated the overall sentiment that SHA members are interested in putting anti-racist and anti-biased initiatives into action by creating community-wide conversations. I also found the training urged me to reflect on my own experiences and behaviors in work environments and beyond.

It’s no secret the archaeology is a predominantly white discipline. There have been conversations of how to improve diversity and inclusion in archaeology for some time and the same suggestions are presented every time: “We need to engage more youth” or “maybe we could give out a couple of scholarships for the conference”. While these are valid suggestions and will perhaps make small scale changes over time, the discipline needs to come up with some new suggestions. More importantly, we need to understand why it is critical to increase diversity and inclusion in archaeology to make meaningful headway.

Archaeologists are responsible for unraveling histories secrets and sharing lived experiences with contemporary society. Archaeological investigations by white Americans are conducted across our country and around the world. Each person brings with them their own lived experiences which biases the ways they interpret material culture of past populations. The researcher could combine archaeological and historical evidence to gain perspective of the population. However, they are likely to be blind to some of the potential biases of their interpretations, as well as the implications of their reported findings. For example, in American historical archaeology there is often a story of inequality and mistreatment of BIPOC, which is undoubtedly true for our country. But what if archaeologists also told stories of strength and overcoming adversity in these communities? Participants in the SHA training suggested working with local communities to develop research questions that frame archaeological research within an anti-racist/anti-biased framework. Understanding how our research impacts modern society and allowing communities to partake in uncovering their own history is one way we can encourage greater diversity and inclusion in the discipline which will eventually lead to greater representation of voices, lived experiences, and perspectives to tell the history of past human populations.


  • Franklin, Maria, Justin P. Dunnavant, Ayana Omilade Flewellen, and Alicia Odewale
    2020 The Future Is Now: Archaeology and the Eradication of Anti-Blackness. International Journal of Historical Archaeology 24(4):753-766.



African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter

Archaeology in the Community

The Society of Black Archaeologists

The African Burial Ground

Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery


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 New York African Burial Ground Project: Unearthing the African Presence in Colonial New York by Michael Blakey

Constructing an Archaeology of Children: Studying Children and Child Material from the African Past by Flordeliz Bugarin

The Taphonomy of Disaster and the (Re)Formation of New Orleans by Shannon Lee Dawdy

Toward an Antiracist Archaeology by Mia L. Carey

Access Denied: African Americans and Access to End-of-Life Care in Nineteenth-Century Washington, D.C. by Justin Dunnavant

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

African Diasporic Choices: Locating the Lived Experiences of Afro-Crucians in the Archaeological and Archival Record by Ayana Omilade Flewellen

A Black Feminist-Inspired Archaeology? by Maria Franklin

“Power to the people:” Sociopolitics and the Archaeology of Black Americans by Maria Franklin

The Rosewood Massacre: An Archaeology and History of Intersectional Violence by Edward González-Tennant

Whiteness Studies: An Archaeology of White Plurality and African American Material Culture by Lewis Jones

Free Black Communities and the Underground Railroad: The Geography of Resistance by Cheryl Janifer LaRoche

Beyond Strategy and Good Intentions: Archaeology, Race and White Privilege by Carol McDavid

Public Archaeology and Critical Histories: Collaborative Archaeology in Southern Illinois by Annelise Morris

Archaeologies of Race and Urban Poverty: The Politics of Slumming, Engagement, and the Color Line by Paul R. Mullins and Lewis C. Jones

An Archaeology of Struggle: Material Remnants of a Double Consciousness in the American South and Danish Caribbean Communities by Alicia Odewale

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

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 

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 



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 titled Campus Archaeology In the Time of COVID-19, CAP has had to adapt quickly to a new world where it is not safe to go out in the field or to hold many of our usual events. While this introduces many new challenges, we are extremely lucky that all our CAP fellows are working hard to upload digital content so we can stay active with community outreach!

So, for the first of many new digital events this academic year, we are pleased to introduce:

1. Our new Virtual Haunted Campus Tour: Available now!

2. Our Haunted Tour Facebook Live Q&A Session: 7- 8:15pm on October 28. If you would like to submit a question to CAP and have it answered during the event, fill out this form created by the MSU Alumni Office.

The Apparitions and Archaeology or Haunted Campus Tour has traditionally been a joint effort between CAP and the MSU Paranormal Society to guide interested – and brave! – visitors around sites on campus known for their paranormal activity and archaeological significance.

This photograph shows students clearing the land around Saints' Rest. The text on the back of the photograph reads: "Built 1857. Burned 1876." Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.
This photograph shows students clearing the land around Saints’ Rest. The text on the back of the photograph reads: “Built 1857. Burned 1876.” Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections.

This year our Apparitions and Archaeology Tour is hosted on Twine – a user-friendly and open-sourced tool with a “choose your own adventure” format. And because of the new digital interface, we are, for the first time ever, able to include ALL of the sites! 

Map showing the locations of the eight haunted tour stops.

1. Beaumont Tower

2. Sleepy Hollow

3. Saints’ Rest

4. 1900 Class Fountain

5. Morrill Hall

6. Mary Mayo Hall

7. Beal Garden

8. MSU Museum 

To navigate our Twine Tour, click on each site to first learn a bit about its history as a part of MSU’s campus. Then choose to either learn more about the archaeology of that site – all excavated by CAP – or learn more about the chilling stories that have been passed down throughout the years! But that’s not all! As you scroll through our Twine, click on any word that is colored orange – each of these words will lead you to new pages with more information on the particulars of that site, related buildings, archaeological terms, and much more! 

It may be easy to get lost, but never fear – scroll to the bottom of each page to find links to each of the eight sites to start all over again! And as you visit more and more pages, blue words will indicate pages that you have already visited so you won’t lose track.

This short video illustrates how to navigate the Virtual Tour Twine. Notice that any word in orange is a link you can click and all site links are listed at the bottom of each page.

We hope you enjoy our tour as much as we did making it! Click here to start our Tour

Even with our new Haunted Tour Twine, we wouldn’t feel complete without an opportunity to engage with all of you! Therefore, we will be hosting a Haunted Tour Facebook Live Question and Answer Session on October 28 so we can answer any questions you might have about the Haunted Tour Twine sites.

To submit questions for the Q&A, fill out this form, comment on this blog post or send a message to our Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter accounts! We will be checking these sites regularly and will compile them all for our event at the end of the month. We are looking forward to your questions and seeing you live!

Although, this may not be the fall 2020 semester we expected, we are terribly excited to release our Haunted Campus Tour Twine and cannot wait to see you all at our Facebook Live Q&A event on October 28th!!



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).


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!


  • 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:
  • Forsyth, K. 2020b. Accessed at:
  • Forsyth, K. 2020c. Accessed at:
  • Forsyth, K. 2020d. Accessed at:
  • 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