Big Changes Coming in MSU Campus Archaeology’s Future

The 2017-18 academic year will be a momentous one for MSU Campus Archaeology. We are now an established entity in the University with our own budget and clear goals, but as of May 2018, I (Lynne Goldstein) will be retiring from MSU, and the MSU Campus Archaeology Program will have a new Director and, hopefully, even more exciting and new directions.

Thanks to the assistance of Dean Rachel Croson of the College of Social Science, MSU has hired Dr. Stacey Camp as an Associate Professor of Anthropology who will become Director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program in May 2018. We have the good fortune to be able to spend this year making sure that we have everything in good shape, and preparing Stacey for the details of running this unique program.

MSU has been extraordinarily generous and supportive of the Campus Archaeology Program, and I cannot thank the Administration enough for their vision in championing the program and providing both undergraduate and graduate students unique and important training and career opportunities.

The rest of this post is written by Stacey Camp, introducing herself to MSU Campus Archaeology Program supporters.

Lynne Goldstein

Dr. Stacey Camp

Dr. Stacey Camp, Associate Professor of Anthropology and future director of CAP

I am honored and excited to be joining Michigan State University as a faculty member in the Department of Anthropology and as the Director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program. I appreciate the opportunity to shadow Dr. Goldstein to ensure continuity in the MSU Campus Archaeology Program. I come from the University of Idaho where I spent 9 years as a faculty member and close to 4 years as the director of one of three state repositories in Idaho.

I have admired the MSU Campus Archaeology Program’s work from afar for many years, attending sessions on the project at conferences, reading its blog, and following its Twitter account. I was attracted to the program because of my own research projects, which have foregrounded a publicly engaged approach to archaeology.

My research takes a comparative approach to understanding the lives of migrants inhabiting the late 19th and early 20th century Western United States. My first large-scale public archaeology project examined the lives and archaeology of Mexican migrant laborers and their families, which I blogged about on a now defunct website. My latest project looks at the archaeology of Japanese American prisoners incarcerated in a World War II internment camp, and has likewise been documented on the web.

One of things I have appreciated about the MSU Campus Archaeology Program is its innovative and creative approach to placing the history of higher education in Michigan into the public’s hands. Their recent historic “MSU dinner” and their ongoing partnership with the MSU Paranormal Society to offer historic haunted tours are just a few examples of this type of engagement. I look forward to collaborating with students, colleagues, and community partners on the MSU Campus Archaeology Program to continue to develop new strategies to push the boundaries of public archaeology at MSU.

Stacey Camp

Lessons Learned as Campus Archaeologist

Looking back at my tenure as Campus Archaeologist it’s clear that I’ve learned invaluable lessons in the past two years. Not only have I gained valuable skills in social media and public outreach, but I’ve been able to hone my archaeological skills. So here is a quick list of lessons learned.

I’ve learned how to mitigate the cultural heritage of MSU. Understanding how construction on campus is managed and balancing the multiple construction projects with the proper archaeology was a huge learning curve, but integral to my career. It’s important to cultivate relationships with construction companies across campus so they understand the importance of archaeology. While getting a call at 8am on a Saturday morning from construction letting you know they found something, can be annoying, it means the contractors see the necessity of archaeology.

I’ve learned that whether it’s your first find, or hundredth find it’s exciting. Discovering the unknown, or long forgotten can get the blood pumping every time. Finding that first artifact or feature and unraveling the data to get answers makes archaeology fun and rewarding. When we found the privy this summer it went from being a pile of burned brick to MSU’s first outhouse that revealed more about early campus than any archival document thus far.

I’ve learned to always expect the unexpected. Never assume that you won’t find any archaeology, because you will be sorely disappointed. When mitigating the construction on campus, you have to sometimes put priority on certain areas over others, for example we’re more likely to find archaeology on the north side of campus, but that doesn’t mean we can/should ignore the rest of campus.

I’ve learned you have to do your research…then do it again. Using multiple archival sources gives you a more complete picture of campus. When we discovered the original Vet Lab I had researched the area before construction began, but I neglected to look at pre-1890’s maps that had the Vet Lab labeled. I learned to think outside the box when collecting archival research.

Finally, I’ve learned that a solid crew makes the work easier and the archaeology more fun. It’s an important lesson to learn the value of a crew, one that you can trust to do the archaeology and that offer feedback and insight during projects.

While my tenure as Campus Archaeologist is up, I’m continuing as a CAP fellow where hopefully I can pass on my lessons learned and continue to hone my archaeological skills.




Meet the New Campus Archaeologist – Lisa Bright

saints rest 2005

Last Day of Saints Rest 2005 ; Me – far left

Hi, I’m Lisa Bright, the newest MSU Campus Archaeologist. I’m very excited to take over this position from Kate Frederick. I’ve been working with CAP for the last year, but my personal experience with archaeology on MSU’s campus goes back much further than that.

I attended MSU for undergrad from 2003-2007. I was an anthropology major, with a primary focus on physical anthropology. However, during the summer of 2005 I had the opportunity to participate in the first Saints Rest excavation. It was my first archaeological field experience, which provided me with a range of diverse skills. Who would have thought that ten years later I’d be back participating with campus archaeology!

Lisa Bright

Me Excavating at VMC Historic Cemetery. Image Source: Gary Reyes/Bay Area News Group

After graduating in 2007 I entered the anthropology master’s program at California State University, Chico. Although my thesis work focused on scavenging patterns with regard to forensic cases. I also participated in another historic-era field school in Northern California. After graduating with my M.A. in 2011, I worked as an osteologist on a late 19th/early 20th century potter’s field in San Jose, California, and as a lecturer for CSU, Chico and Lassen Community College anthropology departments. My dissertation will focus on the health and nutritional status of the individuals from the historic cemetery in San Jose.

Now I’m happy to be back at MSU starting my second year of the Ph.D. program. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you, and continuing the hard work of my predecessors to preserve the cultural heritage on campus.

Introducing Kate, The New Campus Archaeologist!

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Photo of me excavating at Morton Village in Illinois.

The purpose behind the Campus Archaeology Program here at MSU is to connect the past to the present in order to inform the future. Archaeology allows us to engage the past so we can understand where we come from. MSU’s past is vibrant, making the archaeology of MSU even more fascinating. As the incoming Campus Archaeologist I look forward to delving into the dynamic history of this great University and gaining an understanding of what it means to be a Spartan today.

I am a born and bred Michigander. I grew up in southern Michigan (Coldwater), earned my undergraduate degree in Anthropology at MSU; received my Master’s from Wayne State University in Detroit; and am back at MSU working on my Ph.D. in Anthropology (archaeology).  I am a Spartan through and through. You will hear me cheering at the top of my lungs every football Saturday and never see me wearing shades of maize and blue.

While I have a broad range of archaeological background, having dug in the Southwest (Arizona and New Mexico), Ecuador, Illinois, and Wisconsin, my true research interests lie in Northern Michigan (for reference, picture me pointing to the tip of my ring finger on my right hand). My research focuses on prehistoric food storage in the Inland Waterway of Northern Michigan.

My third year of graduate studies here at MSU is sure to be exciting. Taking on the role of Campus Archaeologist allows me a fresh perspective on archaeology. This position requires not only the coordination of the spectrum of archaeological excavation (from survey to full-fledged excavations), but also close collaboration with other sectors of MSU, such as the Physical Plant.

The title of Campus Archaeologist leaves big shoes to fill. My goals as Campus Archaeologist are to continue the strong tradition of public outreach and informing the public on MSU’s buried past. Campus Archaeology will give me the opportunity to protect and preserve the legacy of MSU.

My Last Post as Campus Archaeologist…

Katie Scharra and I after working on the West Circle Steam II project, via Katy Meyers

Katie Scharra and I after working on the West Circle Steam II project, via Katy Meyers

This is my last official week as the MSU Campus Archaeologist. I’ve held the position for the past two years, and it has been one of the most rewarding and amazing experiences. When I first was given the position in Fall 2011 by Dr. Goldstein, I was only in my second year of grad school at MSU, and knew very little about the university itself. However, over the past two years I have learned so much about the campus and surrounding area. I’m awed by the wonderful and deep history this campus has, and how traditions have developed and changed throughout the years. I’ve gone from knowing only the academic buildings I took class in, to knowing almost every building on campus including the demolished buildings lying beneath our feet.

During my tenure I’ve led over a dozen archaeological projects, worked with a number of graduate and undergraduate programs, and had the opportunity to meet various staff and faculty from around the campus. I’ve excavated the first dorm, helped reveal an unknown boiler building beneath East Circle Drive, done large surveys in MSU’s Sacred Space, participated in teaching at Grandparents University and Science Fest, and have aided in creating a strong online presence for Campus Archaeology. I learned how to teach archaeology from helping other graduate students with their work to teaching elementary school kids about what archaeologists do. Some unexpected benefits were that I learned about the importance of working with the university administration and physical plant- this job truly taught me the importance of knowing the inner workings of the university, not just the academic side. I’ve learned about running a team in survey, planning all the stages of an excavation, and has helped me so much with developing my Cultural Resource Management skills.

Excavating Saints' Rest's basement, via Katy Meyers

Excavating Saints’ Rest’s basement, via Katy Meyers

Some of my favorite memories from the past two years have come from working with Campus Archaeology. I’ll never forget working with Eve on excavating the Morrill Boiler building while the massive excavators and dump trucks whizzed by our heads, or when Katie and I were called out to investigate a random cement pipe 40 feet below the ground surface while construction men joked about us finding Jimmy Hoffa (we didn’t, it was an abandoned sewage line). I had such an amazing time teaching at Grandparents University, and I loved being able to give them an archaeological tour of campus. This past summer I was able to excavate Saints’ Rest and discover a portion of the basement and the chimney, both amazing finds discovered with an amazing team. I have been able to work with so many wonderful staff members and construction crews from MSU’s Infrastructure, Planning and Facilities, Granger Construction, Barton Marlow, BBR Construction and others, who were always quick to help and deeply interested in the results of our work.

I owe so much to Dr. Goldstein for not only giving me the opportunity to hold this position, but for constantly mentoring me throughout the process. She gave me freedom to develop my own skills and run the day to day operations of Campus Archaeology, but was always there with advice and support whenever I needed it. I know I have grown substantially in my abilities in running a team, managing archaeological projects and communicating results, and I can attribute this growth to Dr. Goldstein’s support and guidance. Thank you so much.

Thanks is also due to the MSU Anthropology department and the students within it for helping with research, excavations and surveys throughout the year. I also want to thank the MSU Graduate School and Dean Klomparens for the support of the program and the graduate students working within it. Thank you to MSU’s Infrastructure, Planning and Facilities for welcoming me to all the construction meetings and projects, and aiding with the protection of MSU’s heritage. A big thank you to the MSU Archives and Historical Records for constantly helping us to learn about the campus, uncover mysteries like the Morrill Boiler and Beal’s Creek, and aiding in writing the final reports. Finally, a big thank you to everyone who ever tweeted, commented on our blog, or wrote on our Facebook wall. You keep the conversation and discussion about MSu Campus Archaeology going even when the excavations have stopped, and give us the digital support we need.

Working for Campus Archaeology has given me a strong sense of place and belonging here at MSU- I genuinely feel like a Spartan now. I’m proud to have held this position, and to be the first female to have it! This is such a unique program, and I look forward to continuing to work with Campus Archaeology in the upcoming years as part of the research team.

-Katy Meyers

Greetings from the New Campus Archaeologist

A new year has just begun, and the campus is once again full of life. Since 1855, the Michigan State University campus has experienced an influx of students, faculty and staff during the end of August. There is a pleasant air of anticipation and excitement for new experiences and the old familiarity of the university. Over the past 150 years the campus has collected the marks of the students, whether it be through the photographs of the past or the items that have become buried underneath out feet. The new year is the beginning of hope for the future of ourselves and MSU, but also a reminder of the past and where we have come from. This is especially true for me, as I officially became the new Campus Archaeologist this semester.

The role of Campus Archaeologist is not only the mitigation of archaeological resources on campus, but also the protection of its history. The job entails focusing on the day-to-day of archaeological operations, which includes meeting with members of Physical Plant about ongoing construction and landscaping. I also direct and coordinate the archaeological and historical research that relates to the heritage of MSU. MSU is rich in archaeological information, and it is my job not only to protect and excavate this past, but also to relate this information to the wider campus and community.

I am extremely excited to take my place as Campus Archaeologist.  Although I am only a second year, MSU is my home and I look forward to continuing the tradition of protecting MSU’s archaeological heritage. My goal for my term as Campus Archaeologist is to keep everyone informed on what archaeological work is occurring on campus, as well as show the importance of this work. We have a large number of resources for keeping up to date on the work being done on campus, and I look forward to the involvement of the community in these projects. The previous Campus Archaeologists, Terry Brock and Chris Stawski have set high standards for this position, and I hope to continue this tradition.

We at MSU have the special opportunity of getting to understand how our campus has changed from its creation until now, and I hope to share this process of discovery and interpretation of the MSU past with you.

-Katy Meyers, Campus Archaeologist

Campus Archaeology and A New School Year

Each new academic year brings with it the excitement and anticipation of something new; whether it is something new to experience, something new to learn, or new challenges to face and obstacles to hurdle.  There is no doubt in my mind that Michigan State University’s freshman class is feeling the emotional pull of all these “new” things, evoking fear, excitement, and sheer joy.  This mix of emotions may be new to the class of 2010, but since 1855, students have been feeling these same emotions as they enter the Michigan State University grounds.  It is a shared phenomenon that has occurred throughout MSU’s history.  One generation cannot explain it to another, but can only give the advice of alumni: “experience as much as you can while learning everything possible.”  We at Michigan State University are in the privileged position of being in and experiencing academia, at the pinnacle of knowledge and scholarship.  And, like generations of students before us, we do not take this for granted.

Like the incoming freshman class here at MSU, I find myself at a unique crossroads.  I am going into my 6th year of graduate school at MSU, and am in the midst of writing my dissertation and finishing my academic career here.  One would think that the “newness” of an upcoming school year would be lost on someone like me.  And yet it is the very opposite of that.  I have been fortunate to experience the emotions of something new this year as I take over the position of Campus Archaeologist.  I have run the gamut of emotions, from joy to fear and back again.  I find myself not only in a new position, but also in the new and exciting Campus Archaeology Program, a program that helps to bring archaeology and history to the University community, the greater regional and national community, and the professional community of archaeological scholars.

Many things have changed through the years since MSU’s creation.  But one thing has stood the test of time; the exciting feeling of starting a new year.  This year, as I carry out the role of campus archaeologist, I will truly cherish this feeling.  I hope to bring new ideas, overcome new challenges, and present new research to the vast community of Spartans that share a common history.  It is this history that I will celebrate, one of being on the forefront of discovery, knowledge and learning.  And this I will not take for granted.

From the Desk of the Campus Archaeologist,

Christopher Stawski

Last day as Campus Archaeologist!

Campus archaeologist Terry Brock cleans and artifact

Today is my last day working as Campus Archaeologist. Being Campus Archaeologist at Michigan State University has been the most rewarding professional experience I have ever had. Two years ago, when Lynne Goldstein informed me that I had the job, I had no idea what to expect. It was the first time such a position had existed, and was a central component of the newly formed Campus Archaeology Program. Neither the program or position existed anywhere, let alone at MSU, so what I’d be doing was only partly understood. Some of the responsibilities were clear, others would be developed as we went on. Little did I know, it would be an experience that would help me discover more about myself, my home town, my university, and my future than most could ever ask for in a job.

I grew up in East Lansing. I graduated from East Lansing High School in 2000, and spent my childhood attending MSU football and basketball games, feeding ducks by the river, picnics in the park behind Student Services, summer baseball camps at College Field, and annual school field trips to the MSU Museum and Wharton Center. My father works here, my sister went to school here. I have always loved MSU. Little did I know that the opportunity to explore its past through its archaeology would deepen the love affair: holding this position has given me chance to gain a thorough understanding about why MSU is what it is. This is a great school, with a rich tradition in teaching, research, and community engagement, and that commitment has shaped how it looks and the type of education offered here. I am hopeful that more students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members learn about it and develop a greater appreciation for where it has come from. And I hope that it is the Campus Archaeology Program that leads the way.

The job itself is steeped in professional opportunities that I couldn’t have predicted. There is the obvious experience of conducting archaeological survey and excavations, the added benefit of co-directing my first field school, and learning about the process of doing Cultural Resource Management. What was unexpected was the amount of experience I gained in developing a fully functioning campus program focused on research, teaching, and engagement. I learned how to work with departments across campus, watched and learned about the inner workings of campus administration, learned about managing budgets, developed internships and mentored undergraduate interns, and interacted in new and exciting ways with the community. These experiences are going to follow me everywhere, and greatly inform who I am as an academic, researcher, and person. I have Lynne Goldstein to thank for the guidance, the wisdom, and the trust to let me be creative, take risks, and letting me be as involved as possible in every step of the development of this program. This blog, for example, in addition to the use of digital social media, are examples of risks that I was allowed to take. That sort of trust is rare in any boss, and I have had the good fortune of working with someone who gave me that freedom. Mentors are hard to come by, and Dr. Goldstein is one of a kind. I am lucky to have her in my corner.

The future for me will be in Williamsburg, Virginia, where I will be writing my dissertation on a slave plantation site in Southern Maryland. Leaving my home town is hard, but it won’t keep me entirely from Campus Archaeology. I will continue to work for the program as a researcher, converting many of the archaeological projects we have conducted over the past couple years into (hopefully) publishable articles, along with some other interesting engagement projects. I will continue to post here about all of these projects, so that you can continue to be involved in them. Chris Stawski, who has worked with our program as a field tech and teaching assistant for the past two years, will be taking over as Campus Archaeologist. A good friend of mine and a fellow graduate student in Anthropology, Chris will be bringing even more unique talents to the program…so stay tuned.

In closing, I’d like to thank everyone at the MSU Anthropology Department for their help and support, and all my fellow grad students who’ve been out digging with me: it has been so much fun. I’d like to give a huge thank you to the MSU Archives and Historical Collections for all of their help, energy, and expertise. They are an unknown treasure on this campus. I’d like to thank all the people across the university, from University Relations to the MSU Union to MSU Campus Planning who have taken beautiful photos, served delicious food to hungry archaeologists, and offered helpful insight and advice about our campus. An enormous thank you to the MSU Graduate School and Dean Klomparens, who provided the funding for the Campus Archaeologist experiment in so many stages: this has been a wonderful experience that is exemplary of what advanced graduate education at MSU is all about. I’d like to the thank every person who showed up to an excavation, asked a question, or followed us on Twitter or Facebook: our work and research is meaningless if we don’t have a community to share it with, so thank you for giving us a reason to do what we love. Most importantly, I’d like to thank MSU Physical Plant, particularly those of you on the ground who are at work before all of us making this campus a beautiful place to work and live. You’re appreciation for MSU’s past has allowed us to learn some amazing things, and it’s been a blast being out in the field with all of you making these discoveries together.

Thanks again, and Go Green!