Tag: historic

Historic Sustainability and Food Practices at MSU

Historic Sustainability and Food Practices at MSU

As I continue to work on the sustainability project, I will be sharing excerpts from the draft that I am writing. Last week I came across a very helpful bound volume detailing receipts for food services from 1864-1874. Dr. Manly Miles kept a ledger of 

Archaeology and African Descendant Communities

Archaeology and African Descendant Communities

In honor of Black History Month, this post is dedicated to the archaeological work and research of African descendants past and present. While the African descendant presence in our field is still low, the research on U.S. and African Diaspora communities is burgeoning with interest. 

What do you do with melted glass?

What do you do with melted glass?

Artifacts cleaned and ready for cataloging

Down in the Campus Archaeology lab we are dealing with an interesting problem. Two of our volunteers, Katie and Dana, have been diligently cleaning and cataloging artifacts from the work we did this past Fall. As most of you know, we excavated the Northwest portion of Saints Rest, the first dormitory. Since the building burned down,  numerous artifacts were affected by the fire. This complicates the identification process, especially when it comes to identifying the glass. Usually differentiating between window glass and bottle glass isn’t difficult. You place the piece on a table, and see if it has any curve to it. Window glass is completely flat, bottle is not.

Warped and burnt glass from Saints Rest

 

So what do you do when your glass sherds are warped out of shape, color is changed due to the fire, and there are no clear indicators as to what it may have been? That is the question we are dealing with. We are currently examining the glass to try to make sense of the bending and warping in order to better interpret it. Hopefully we will be able to organize some of it.

Anyone know of any resources on identifying burnt artifacts? Any tips for identifying warped glass?

Connecting Text to Artifacts

Connecting Text to Artifacts

Historical archaeology is often defined by the use of both archaeological and documentary evidence. The two lines of evidence don’t always complement one another, sometimes they can be quite contradictory. One example of this on campus is the presence of smoking pipes from the 19th 

This Month in MSU’s History: January

This Month in MSU’s History: January

January can be a rough month for students. You are just getting back from your holiday break, winter has firmly set in (though not as much this year), and new classes are starting. For those of us at Campus Archaeology, January means working on processing 

Fact Checking the Rumor Mill

Fact Checking the Rumor Mill

Sideboard rumored to have belonged to President Hannah, Photo by S Deskaj

A few weeks ago, Kat Cooper from the MSU Union asked us to come in and take a lot at several pieces of furniture that are currently located in the Union’s Spartan Spirit Shop.  What is so significant about these three pieces of furniture?  Rumor has it that they once belonged to former MSU President John A. Hannah – if true, the furniture would contribute to MSU’s exciting past!  I took several photos and headed out to the MSU Archives, where I carefully looked through countless photos of President Hannah taken throughout the course of his 28-year tenure.

Cupboard rumored to have belonged to President Hannah, Photo by S. Deskaj

Admittedly, I knew very little about President Hannah prior to my trip to the MSU Archives, but after looking through photos of him and his wife Sarah Shaw (daughter of Robert Shaw – former MSU President), I was able to piece together some of their life stories.  Some cool things I learned about them include: on the wall above President Hannah’s desk, he kept a photo of U.S. President Abe Lincoln; Sarah received a Master’s degree here at MSU.  Usually referred to as “Mrs. John A. Hannah,” I was surprised to learn about Sarah, particularly since the goal was to search for and identify pieces of furniture!  Her many scrapbooks revealed personal items from her life – such as pressed flowers from her wedding and local newspaper clippings announcing the “elaborate event of the century”: her engagement to John.  She also kept a “death” scrapbook where she posted in memoriam articles on various family members – which included death notices for her parents, grandparents, and her brother.

By the end of the day, I had examined each piece of furniture in every photograph of President Hannah in an attempt to make a positive identification, or at the very least, establish some kind of link between him and the furniture at the Spartan Spirit Shop.  So, I was ultimately unable to find adequate evidence to suggest that the furniture did indeed belong to President Hannah.  While I was unable to verify the claim that these pieces of furniture belonged to President Hannah, archaeology teaches us that absence of evidence does not indicate evidence of absence.  I suppose that this rumor will live on!

Questions and Answers in Archival Documents

Questions and Answers in Archival Documents

Under the guidance of the very helpful staff at the MSU Archives, I have been compiling a list of sources that may be useful for the CAP sustainability project. These sources are varied and some, to me, are surprising. I never thought I would find 

Beauty Demolished, But Never Forgotten

Beauty Demolished, But Never Forgotten

I’ll be honest, when I first started my research project for my Campus Archaeology internship, I didn’t realize how much I would fall in love with Morrill Hall. Before this semester, I knew barely anything about that old red brick building. To me, it was 

Happy Historic Thanksgiving!

Happy Historic Thanksgiving!

For most students at MSU, Thanksgiving means heading back to one’s hometown to enjoy an extended weekend with family and friends. International students get to enjoy the holiday by engaging in the many activities set up for them, like the COGS Thanksgiving Dinner for graduate international students. However, Thanksgiving in the past used to be celebrated on campus by many of the students. It was difficult to get home for a short period of time, and many lived full time on campus. Below is a summary of some of the festive Thanksgiving events that occurred on campus in the late 1890’s from the M.A.C. record- a student newspaper from this era.

M.A.C. Record: December 1986

Cover of thanksgiving program. Image courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Archives
Cover of thanksgiving program. Image courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Archives

“One of the most enjoyable gatherings of the day was the Thanksgiving reunion of the Saugatuck campers in the rooms of Profs. Wheeler and Woodworth. At 2 o’clock an elaborate dinner was served in the Wheeler dining room. At each guest’s place was a souvenir menu card, the handiwork of Miss Lu Baker, who was also a member of the part. After dinner, the remainder of the afternoon and evening was spent in recounting the events of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and in the nejoyment of games, music and dancing.”

“The Abbot Hall girls enjoyed their first Thanksgiving dinner at the M.A.C. In the evening a few of the boys were invited in and a general good time ensued, in which games played an important part.”

“About fifteen of the boys spent the day in Kalamazoo playing football. They were defeated by a score of 18 to 4, but we know they played hard from their appearance the next day.”

“Prof Smith ate turkey with Mr. and Mrs. C.E. Marshall. B.O. Longyear went to Mason to be thankful.”

M.A.C. Record: November 1987

“The week was rather quiet at the College. Though but one day of vacation was given, those who desired to go home were excused from recitations on Friday and many availed themselves of the opportunity. Several social functions were indulged by those who remained here. Tuesday Evening Prof. and Mrs. C.D. Smith gave a very pleasant entertainment to the ‘Bachelors’ and their lady friends. Refreshments were served at small tables to twenty-six, the favors being white roses. Guessing contests and the reading of a skeleton story followed.”

“In the Abbot Hall kitchen laboratory Thursday evening, a candy pull was in progress from about eight until eleven o’clock. About twenty young women and as many young men, divided into five pulling gangs, made taffy of all degrees of stickiness and brownness and sweetness, some of which might be called edible. It was the good time they were after, not the candy, and they had it.”

M.A.C. Record: November 1898

“On Thursday evening last Abbot Hall was the scene of festivity, the lady instructors and co-eds having prepared a very enjoyable entertainment… The party went to the laboratory-kitchen, where the prophets Zelica and Nourmahal were waiting to tell the present, past and future of those who were in doubt; after which a social time was enjoyed and light refreshments served. As the evening drew near the midnight hours we were called into the dining-room, where we were greeted by the Marie Antoinettes. Music and dancing followed for the remainder of the evening.”

“Mrs. C.D. Smith entertained members of the faculty and a few others at dinner Tuesday night. The tables were prettily decorated with roses and maidenhair ferns, the favors being bunches of violets. The delicious repast was served very daintily by the hostess herself. A very pleasant time was enjoyed by all.”

 

Happy Thanksgiving from Campus Archaeology, we hope that you enjoy a pleasant time where ever you may choose to celebrate, and indulge yourself in the entertainment of the evening!

The Civil War and MSU

The Civil War and MSU

A site for a new courthouse to be built adjacent to Fredericksburg City Hall in Virginia has revealed a brick structure that was involved in the Battle of Fredericksburg in December of 1862. The city funded the archaeological dig before the $35 million project begins.