The analysis of animal bones from historic MSU involves more than the identification of species. While it is important to determine the species that were being consumed, we are also very interested in the specific portions of animals that were being purchased and produced by …
Analyzing and interpreting past food practices has always been one of my passions. This year for CAP, I will be working with Susan Kooiman to explore and recreate the food environment during the Early Period of MSU’s campus (1855-1870), as explained in Susan’s previous blog post. While …
Hi! When we last left each other, I had just begun my research at the Archives, digging in to see what I could find in the immense amount of resources we have there. Since then, I have continued to search through the archives, and have also started to research the artifacts themselves, in the hope of finding dates, locations, and the manufacturer’s associated with them.
As far as the Archives go, I have moved on from The Eagle, towards some older sources. I have been reading the diaries of three MSU Alumni from the three oldest decades of Campus History: Edward Granger, written in 1858-1859, Peter Felker, written in 1868-1870, and Albert Crane, written in 1872. By adding these three Alum to my research, I am starting to encompass campus life from when this college was founded in 1855 to the turn of the 20th century.
An interesting quote I found in Granger’s diary, for example, relates to the night when his roomate “[went] on some very particular business, probably roasting pigs tails, as they buchered here today” (December 9th, 1858). Although the majority of the bones we found were cow, we have had some luck in finding pig bones, suggesting here that the artifacts have a good chance of matching up with our records, a thrilling thought.
The other side of the research I’ve been doing is a lot more challenging. I’m not only researching the basics behind artifacts we find a lot (such as brick, glass, and pottery) but I am also trying to find out some specifics on the artifacts we have been lucky enough to find either in tact, with words or manufacturing marks, or with some other form of identification we can use.
In this I’m having some problems. It seems as though most of what we find was either: A) handmade B) bought from local areas, and harder to trace in a Sear’s Catalog or C) ordered by their parents in their respective hometowns and then sent to them later.
Although relating the objects to the students themselves is proving difficult, I have been lucky enough to find information on some of our artifacts. One of these is the ink well we found completely in tact. The brand is Harrison’s Colombian Ink, and dates from the 1840’s to early 1860’s. The inkwell we found has a blow pipe pontil scar, which, if you don’t speak glass, means that on the bottom is a rough spot of glass that was broken off once the bottle was shaped, leaving the bottom imperfect, but recognizable to glass experts. I also found that this specific brand of ink was very popular during this time, and since it lost its popularity in the early 1860’s, we can use this to date it to the earliest days of campus.
Within the next couple of weeks, I’m hoping to do a plethora of things, including finish up research at the Archives, get a lot more research done on the artifacts themselves, round off everything I’ve gathered so far, and start creating the OMEKA exhibit. I’ll catch you up later on how everything turns out!
When considering food as a topic of archaeological research, one of the biggest obstacles is how. Food remains are often difficult to find—they rot quickly, scavengers carry them away, and such essential practices as eating are often not mentioned in historical documents. Despite the odds …