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

Four Pickles for Dinner? Trials and Tribulations of Archival Research and Tips for Success

History is fleeting yet enduring. We hardly ever realize that we are making it, but the remnants of our historic actions can sometimes remain long after they are done. Things casually jotted down, random papers and notes tucked away—these are items we don’t realize that someone may use for information in the future. Fortunately for Campus Archaeology, the Michigan State University Archives serves as a repository for these bits of history, housing both official records and other written information collected from MSU alum and faculty emerita.

As lovely as such resources are, the often pose a problem for researchers. Diaries and notebooks, etc. were not written for the public and may only make sense the author. More official records, such as account books, weren’t necessarily private, but still bear the marks of individuals living in certain times and places, which doesn’t always translate for later generations.

In my efforts to recreate diet and foodways on the early MSU campus (1855-1870), I have been begun recording the food purchases in account books for the boarding houses. Boarding houses and clubs were the original cafeterias, so they are key to understanding early MSU food culture. However, the documents I have surveyed thus far, dating to between 1866 and 1871, have given me as much trouble as information.

Here are some of the issues facing researchers using historic archives:

  1. Illegibility:  Most handwriting prior to the last couple decades was in cursive, particularly in official records. Some record-keepers’ handwriting is clear and perfectly legible, but most of the time, this is not the case. As we move further away from using and reading cursive in the modern era, our untrained eyes find further difficulty with deciphering it. This problem will only continue to worsen, as many elementary schools have ceased teaching cursive writing.
Exprep

Exprep on extracts from Saints Rest account books. Image courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

2. Outdated Terms:  Some of our problems with reading past documents can be attributed to the use of terms that are no longer commonplace. Early on I ran into a word I could not read (see photo), but upon a text conversation with Lisa, we decided the word may be “exprep”. Googling this phrase didn’t turn up anything useful, and we concluded that it may have stood for external preparation (hiring an outsider to prepare something). Later I ran into the phrase “express in tea”, referring to postage for a tea delivery. I thought perhaps I had misread it the first time around, but the last letter of the previous entry simply does not look like two esses. I remain confused! (And please help if you can!)

Express on tea seen in Saints Rest accounts book. Image courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

Express on tea seen in Saints Rest accounts book. Image courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

3. Incomplete information: One issue I have been running into with the receipt books is the lack of itemization of food purchases. Sometimes entries are very specific (e.g., “4 3/12 dozen eggs”), while others simply say “Pd Bill to Hentch for meat” without specifying the amount or type of meat that was purchased. Often the bookkeeper would simply reference the person paid without indicating the goods for which they were paid. This means that we are only able to get information about some food goods being purchased and not others.

So, how can you deal with the issues we face when researching in the archives? Here are some tips:

  1. Talk to an archivist:  This is the most obvious and probably most useful tip of them all. If you are having problems reading something, then it’s likely that the archivist has encountered the same problem and is much more experienced at reading and interpreting old records. This is a resource I have yet to tap—I’m  saving up all of my problems so I only have to bug them once!
  2. Discuss with friends:  Visiting the archives with friends can make the tedium a little less painful, plus you can ask them if they can decipher a word that has you flummoxed. If you go alone, you can take a picture (with permission of the archives) and send it to a friend for help.
  3. Revisit:  Take note of words you can’t read and revisit them later. Sometimes looking at them again or after you’ve seen a certain word or term written more clearly can help you read it the second time. I kept thinking I was seeing the word “sand” but later realized that it actually said “lard,” which makes more sense for a boarding house…
  4. Utilize alternate resources: Since certain documents often include only one type of information, you must draw on other resource types for context and other types of data. The account books list only foods purchased, so how foods were prepared, the recipes used, and students’ perception of the food are still unknown. I will be drawing on a variety of other sources for this information, so stay tuned…

These methods, however, cannot solve everything. One entry in the boarding house account book said “four pickles for dinner.” Did they really just buy four pickles? Or did they forget a word? Pounds? Jars? Barrels? And why were these pickles specified to be used for dinner? Was it a special dinner?! Or were pickles banned during lunch?!? Oh 1870 account book keeper, why do you vex me so?!?

Mystery word in Saints Rest account book. Image courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections.

Mystery word in Saints Rest account book. Image courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections.

Some remnants of history may always remain a mystery.

Resources:

Kuhn Collection Vol. 108, Boarding Hall Account Book 1866-1871

CAP- Year in Review

As the final week of the semester winds down, CAP wanted to look back at all we’ve accomplished this year. In addition to our public outreach projects, which included Michigan Archaeology Day, Science Fair at Bennett Woods Elementary, Science Fest at East Olive, and the Haunted Campus Tour, our CAP fellows have been hard at work on their own projects and papers.

Katy Meyers-Emery

This semester, I’ve been working on a number of projects. The first is research into the history, archaeology and perceptions of the Sacred Space. This work will be presented at the Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Values Conference as part of the SAA sponsored session. The second is preparing for the summer Campus Archaeology field school. I will be the Teaching Assistant for the field school, which is an exciting opportunity for me to learn to teach in this unique manner. In addition to these two projects, I also helped with the creation of a game for Science Fest and other kid’s archaeological events. The game involves a mock stratigraphy with different types of soil based on what they think the artifact is and how old they think it is. I helped develop a proposal for a sustainability grant, and also tested out some new digital methods of recording in the field. As usual, I have blogged throughout the semester on a variety of topics, helped to maintain and update the website and aided in Science Fest.

Nicole Geske

I researched the best way to approach our outreach. From seeing what others have done for their archaeological outreach, it was determined that we should instead focus on creating “toolboxes” that could be loaned out to various teachers or educators. These have not been fully completed as of yet, but we have a list of topics and materials that would be included within them. At this point, we just need to create them. It was also determined that there were some instances that were better suited for us to interact with students directly, especially for campus- based events, suh as Science Fest and Grandparents University. For these events,  I developed and modified activities that could be utilized. I also examined sustainability through time on campus for our presentation at the Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Values Conference in May. Finally, I accessioned and cataloged the collections from previous excavations and field work on campus.

Josh Burbank

This year my projects included completing a panel on the history of students at MSU to be displayed at the new Graduate School location in Chittenden Hall. I’ve been working with Amy on the presentation for the Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Values Conference. Our paper seeks to understand if “gendered” spaces can be predicted on campus. Throughout the year I conducted research at the University Archives to learn more about MSU’s original Engineering Building, which was destroyed by a fire in 1916, and Wells Hall #2, which was demolished in 1966 to make room for an addition to the Main Library. This research was done in preparation for the upcoming field school.

Amy Michaels

During the fall semester I worked on two different panels for the Chittenden Hall displays. The first panel reviewed the history of the building through time, while the second panel focused on the history of Lab Row. Throughout both semesters, i continued to collect data from the University Archives for the gendered landscape project. A summary of the project will be presented at the Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Values Conference. Finally, I completed a draft of the gendered landscape paper the I will work on with Dr. Goldstein to submit for publication.

Lisa Bright

This year I focused on the completion of a panel for the Chittenden display. The panel discussed the relationship between CAP and Graduate School. This spring, I spent extensive time in the archives researching the possible origin of the Hannah Admin assemblage. Kate and I were able to locate a possible source for the high quality ceramics, the Ana Bayha Home Management House. Finally, I’ve been working with Nicole and Amy on a presentation for the the Cultural Landscape and Heritage Values Conference on MSU’s sustainability practices through time.

Blair Zaid

I’ve had three major projects this year.  The first was the Sacred Space panel for Chittenden Hall. I integrated the work of previous CAP fellows with what I learned from the cultural heritage course with Dr. Goldstein to create a publicly accessible display of the links between MSU, archaeology, and cultural heritage. My year long project in 3D technology has introduced me to a number of resources and people through twitter, campus, and plain old face-to-face conversations. My ultimate goal was to identify a free and easy way to display 3D pictures of on the CAP website.  This project is still underway and as I’ve teamed up with members of MSU LEADR to bring the project to completion this summer. For my last major project I am working with Kate on a presentation for the Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Values conference. This paper will explore potential relationships between MSU’s prehistoric site to their cultural heritage initiatives. Ultimately, we are attempting to come up with some meaningful ideas for how to incorporate local Native American pasts into MSU’s present.

Anthropology Students Present at UURAF 2015

Friday I had the privilege of evaluating the Anthropology section of the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF) in the MSU Union. I was very impressed with the quality of research and the ability of each presenter to discuss their project goals and outcomes. Each student presented quality original research that certainly speaks to the dedication they brought to their projects! I snapped a couple pictures at each poster:

 

Josh Schnell

Josh Schnell

Josh Schnell pulled double duty and presented on Mississippian landscapes and 3D cranial modeling techniques. He was able to determine new information about gravel use at Aztalan which again underscores the unique nature of the site. His research into 3D modeling answers important questions about whether this new technology gives us similar data when compared to traditional methods.

Taylor

Taylor Flaherty

 

Taylor Flaherty examined sexual dimporphism in a small sample using the mandible as her data source. This research is particularly important when considering bioarchaeological samples that are poorly preserved and unable to be sexed using traditional methods.

Alison Appland

Allison Apland

Allison Apland presented a very interesting project about food insecurity in a population of breastfeeding women in Northern Kenya. Her work examines how women cope with food insecurity and how those strategies affect dietary quality and health. This project has important implications across sub-disciplines in physical, cultural, and medical anthropology.

Kyla Cools

Kyla Cools

Kyla Cools looked at a little-used data source, traditional Native American craftwork quilts, to understand patterns and variations that may point to aspects of cultural identity and change through time. Her findings were very interesting and she spoke eloquently about how she thinks scholars should begin to use utilitarian pieces like quilts in their understanding of Native cultures, memory, and representation.

Rebecca Alpert

Rebecca Alpert

Rebecca Alpert relayed her research on using charred food remains on ceramics to understand Middle Woodland dietary choices. This research begins the first lines of inquiry into how Upper Peninsula populations were cooking and eating some 2000 years ago.

 

Meet CAP’s Fall Fellows

Kate Frederick– Kate is a fourth year PhD student, and is beginning her second year as Campus Archaeologist. Though her dissertation research revolves around hunter-gatherer food storage practices in northern lower Michigan, she has found a true passion in the history of MSU. For her final year as Campus Archaeologist, Kate’s goals are to continue to make CAP a sustainable program by organizing, analyzing, accessioning CAP’s collections and disseminating CAP’s research.

 

Katy Meyers– Katy is a fifth year PhD candidate studying mortuary archaeology. Her research specifically focuses on examining the spatial relationship between cremation and inhumation burials in Anglo-Saxon cemeteries. She enjoys working both in the field and on various projects on the digital side of archaeology. She has been an active member of the Campus Archaeology Program since her first year at MSU and is a proud Spartan. Over the next year, she will be helping CAP to accession their sites, working on a cultural heritage plan for MSU and developing a more enhanced GIS system. You can learn more about her personal research and interests at www.bonesdontlie.com, and follow her on Twitter @bonesdontlie

 

Lisa Bright– Lisa is a first year PhD student in the Anthropology Department, here at MSU. Her specific research interests include mortuary archaeology, bioarchaeology and paleopathology. Her current research focuses on paleopathology in a late 19th/early 20th century paupers cemetery in Northern California. Although Lisa is new to CAP, she participated in the first Saint’s Rest field school during her undergrad years here, back in 2005. Lisa is very excited to be reconnecting with the program and assisting with the history of MSU exhibit that will be in the newly renovated Chittenden Hall.

 

Amy Michael– This will be Amy’s fourth year as a CAP Fellow. She primarily studies bioarchaeology of the ancient Maya and her dissertation research focuses on the skeletal remains of individuals buried in peripheral caves and rockshelters. Beyond that work, she enjoys the historical archaeology projects she’s able to work on through CAP, especially those that involve archival research. Amy will be continuing her project this semester using archival documents (memoirs, scrapbooks, diaries, etc…) written by female students to generate a predictive model for women’s space on the historic campus. We know when women were admitted and what they likely studied, but these documents provide clues to where female students would have gathered and experienced college life. Perhaps if we can isolate these spaces, we may be able to piece together a narrative (and a research excavation plan) focusing on gendered use of campus space.

Josh Burbank– Josh is a second year graduate student in the Department of Anthropology and a first year CAP fellow. His interests include the bioarchaeology of violence and warfare. He conducted fieldwork for several years in Belize and most recently in northern Albania. His recent work in Albania will be the focus of his dissertation research. In his first year working with CAP, Josh will assess various areas across campus to determine a suitable location for the upcoming 2015 Campus Archaeology Field school.

Blair Rose Zaid– Blair is a doctoral student in both African American and African Studies and Anthropology here at MSU. Her research focuses on the African Diaspora expansion of the Kongo Kingdom of 15th century west central Africa. Her interests include historic archaeology, community engagement, increasing diversity in archaeology, and raising a toddler. This will be Blair’s third year as a CAP fellow and like her previous project of creating a type collection for CAP, her research this year will continue to revolve around the CAP artifact collections.

 

Fresh Semester with Fresh Faces: Welcome this Year’s CAP Grad Students

In order to achieve the goals of Campus Archaeology (and to lessen the burden of the campus archaeologist), every year CAP works with several graduate students on a handful of intriguing projects. These projects use the artifacts, excavation reports and historic documents to conduct research about MSU’s past and engage the public in archaeology.  Meet our new fresh and fit CAP grad students!

Amy Michael has worked for Campus Archaeology for the past two years and is excited to start her third year as a CAP researcher. Her ongoing project is on the sustainability of the historic MSU campus with data drawn from both archival records and material culture. She has worked cooperatively with the MSU Archives to locate and record information related to early sustainability practices on campus with a focus on food, energy, and transportation. These themes can be traced from the inception of the college up to modern times, with archaeological data supporting how changes in food, energy, and transportation practices were employed or experienced by students and faculty on the historic campus. This semester, she will continue to work with MSU Archives to identify documents and photographs that can further explain some of the material culture recovered in CAP excavations. Her goal this semester is to draft a manuscript with Dr. Lynne Goldstein and former CAP researcher Dr. Jennifer Bengtson reporting the findings of their collective project. They intend to publish the results in a journal focusing on sustainability at the university level.

 

Blair Zaid is a dual Ph.D. student in African American and African Studies and Anthropology. Her graduate research focuses on the Kongo Kingdom of west central Africa. She looks forward to beginning her second year as a member of CAP. This year she will continue her typology project in which she is constructing a typology that will be used to assist future students with adding new information to our collections as CAP continues to unearth MSU’s past. Blair looks forward to incorporating the fantastic finds from this summer’s field research.

 

Andrew LoPinto is not only new to CAP, but he is also a new student in our Anthropology Department here at MSU. His specific research interests are in bioarchaeology, mortuary analysis and Egyptian archaeology.  He hopes that his experience in Egyptian mummies will add a fresh spin to our research at CAP.

As a new addition to the Campus Archaeology Program, Andrew’s project will focus on our social media. His project aims to generate creative ways to engage the public and enhance our public archaeology outreach.

 

Katy Meyers is a fourth year PhD graduate student studying mortuary archaeology. Her research specifically focuses on examining the spatial relationship between cremation and inhumation burials in Anglo-Saxon cemeteries. She enjoys working both in the field on various projects and on the digital side of archaeology. She has been an active member of the Campus Archaeology Program since her first year here. For the past two years, she has been the CAP’s Campus Archaeologist and is proud to continue working with CAP in her new role as a graduate research fellow. Over the next year, she will be helping CAP to accession their sites, and developing a more enhanced GIS system. You can learn more about her personal research and interests at www.bonesdontlie.com, and follow her @bonesdonotlie.

 

Adrianne Daggett is a PhD Candidate in the MSU Department of Anthropology, and although she has been in the department for some years, this is her first year of involvement with Campus Archaeology. She is quite excited to get in on the action in what is hopefully her last year in the graduate program here. Over the last few years she has been working on her dissertation research based in Botswana. Her research focuses on small-scale prehistoric farming and herding settlements in the Kalahari Desert, how they used their local landscape, and their involvement with the trade networks and political systems of their time in southern Africa. The project she will be developing for CAP is called ‘Dig the Past: A Hands-on Intro to Archaeology’, this project will culminate as a monthly series of hands-on activity sessions at the MSU Museum. Planning for this project is actually well underway, and the first session is scheduled for September 21st! The goal of the project is to increase public awareness and understanding of campus history and the nature and practice of archaeology through direct contact with archaeologists and artifacts, as well as to provide opportunities for anthropology students to gain experience working with a lay audience. If you’re interested in getting involved with ‘Dig the Past’ contact Adrianne at daggetta@msu.edu.

Changing Heart of MSU’s Campus: End of the Year Update

This academic year has been enlightening and challenging for me. I dove into continuing a specific project that explores the heart of campus at MSU. I used archival evidence to glean the social, structural and spacial landscape of campus throughout the four time periods of the first 100 years of campus. Using scrapbooks, administration correspondence, and annual reports, I analyzed the changes in campus over time and how different buildings were used and how these buildings represent where MSU was developmentally and in social context with the rest of the state and country. For each time period, the spaces selected to represent the center of campus were: 1855-1870- College Hall and Saints’ Rest, 1870-1900- The Sacred Space, 1900-1925- Red Cedar River, and 1925-1955- Beaumont Tower.

Sabrina presenting the poster she created with Katy at the Graduate Academic conference in February 2013, via Katy Meyers

Sabrina presenting the poster she created with Katy at the Graduate Academic conference in February 2013, via Katy Meyers

I was able to work with Katy Meyers to create a poster that outlined the archaeological and archival evidence for these choices and presented it at the Graduate Academic Conference here at MSU. The poster gathered attention and praise from various graduate students and visitors, and was judged very highly. It was a great way to allow others to visualize the expansion of campus over time and what events propagated the growth. It also invited viewers to chime in on where they experience the heart of campus today, which gleaned a variety of results, perhaps demonstrating that the diversity on campus may allow for several “hearts” of campus.

My next task is to sort through all of the data I submerged myself in and try to make sense of what these spaces say about MSU in general and how they indicate who we are today and where we are going. I will continue working on my final report that supplements a previous paper written by a CAP student and will expand on the poster we presented. I will also input all of the scrapbook data into our database, which will hopefully allow for future CAP fellows to easily survey the types of evidence housed in the archives.

Participating in Science Festival was another big project this year; I was able to be an ambassador for the archaeology program and Campus Archaeology to some young and ambitious junior high school students. It was invaluable to utilize that avenue to reach the community and inform them of all the things CAP is involved in on our historic campus. Hopefully events like this will draw more involvement from future students and community organizations in all of the important work we do.

I was lucky to be able to participate in surveys on campus, something I may never have been able to take part in. These really grounded me in a sense of place on campus which often times felt enormous and contributed to my analysis in my project.

Though I am not an archaeologist, this year provided me with diverse experiences and methodology that I can perhaps utilize in my future research, and all of the projects enriched my learning and graduate experience. I want to thank Dr. Goldstein for her guidance and vision as well as Katy for all of her support and ideas. It was a pleasure to work with you and each of the CAP fellows this year.

MSU Archival Tidbits: Labor, Fires, and Enrollment

I am still working on the sustainability project which seems to have generated endless research questions. As I try to reign it all in, I have been writing about a category that I have blandly termed “Student Life” in my draft. This is the catch-all portion for the interesting factoids I come across in the University Archives. Somehow I will assimilate this information into a working draft, but for now I will share what I have learned below:

In the early days of the college, all students attending the college were required to split their days between labor and academics (T. Gunson, 1940). Through manual labor in the gardens and farms, as well as clearing land for buildings and roads, the student body effectively constructed the foundations of the institution while receiving their education.

In 1871, student Henry Haigh reported a fee of $29.95 for boarding at Saint’s Rest. Haigh journaled about the atmosphere in the dining halls which were structured by assigned seating. He mentioned the presence of women in the halls, though the ratio of men to women was still quite unequal at this time.

Engineering Lab on Fire in 1916, via MSU Archives

During October 1871, the year of the Great Chicago Fire, there were numerous raging fires in the woods around the new campus and across Michigan. Students were dispatched to fight the blazes along with seminal faculty members, Dr. Miles and Dr. Kedzie. Many people lost their lives and homes, especially in the thumb region of the state, but the college was spared due to the management of the students and their vigilance against the fires. Drs. Miles and Kedzie would divide students into groups to battle the blazes through the night, a task compounded by the water shortage from an ongoing drought. Classes were largely cancelled for a week while students joined with neighboring farmers to keep watch over the advancement of the fires. Haigh noted that many students knew how to combat fires and dense smoke, having experience with managing agricultural lands on their family properties. (Sidenote: if anyone has any information about the fire outbreaks during this time period, please share! I am curious as to why there were so many fires in Michigan at this time, though I presume it is due to dry environment).

Faced with declining enrollment numbers, President Snyder (1896-1915) personally corresponded with potential students and advocated the incorporation of promotional literature and calendars into the college’s recruitment plans. As a result, student enrollment increased during his presidency (though the onset of World War I drew students to combat soon after he stepped down). President Snyder encouraged the training of women at the college through a series of short course programs. During his term, Snyder also helped initiate summer courses and railroad institutes. All of these programs lended the college credibility in the eyes of the state population, as MAC faculty members traveled to rural areas of Michigan to give lectures and perform demonstrations for farmers. In an effort to appear relevant and indispensible to the state, the college also enacted county extension programs.

Frank Kedzie, President of the college from 1916-1921 during the turbulent war years, resigned in the wake of weak post-war enrollment growth. A change in leadership was thought to be needed to reignite admissions, so leadership was passed to President Friday in 1921. Friday was an economist and agriculturalist hired to solve the issues stemming from the national war effort. State farmers were suffering during the post-WWI depression. During his administration, Friday endorsed more liberal education programs, allowing engineering students to pursue liberal arts courses in place of some more technical class requirements. President Friday spearheaded the effort to grant PhDs, with the first degree conferred in 1925.

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 all prices paid for food produced on campus, which allows us to examine how costs and demand changed over this ten year period. Each customer (often, the names of notable faculty members appear!) order was recorded and end of the year costs of the college were declared in these volumes. I am still reading through the script handwriting, which is at times a slow procedure, but I am interested to see how the Civil War impacted the sale of foods on campus.

Below is a portion of the manuscript I am writing on campus sustainability in the past. One section of the paper deals with food and agriculture, so in light of my recent discovery of Dr. Miles ledger, I have decided to share that part of the paper this week:

Serving food at the Union Cafeteria, 1941, via MSU Archives and Historical Records

In 1883, dining clubs were developed to more efficiently feed the growing campus community. These clubs allowed students to pool boarding fees and collectively purchase and prepare food, a portion of which was sourced from the campus farms. During large conferences such as the annual Michigan Farmers’ Institutes, the dining clubs would accomodate campus visitors. Dining clubs continued in Period 3 (1900-1925), with advertisements in the MAC Record demonstrating that at least some meat was beginning to be sourced from local off-campus butchers. Advertisements around the turn of the century also indicate that local eateries were established as a result of a growing student population. Period 3 saw an increase in university extension work with outreach focusing on gardening and food sustainability at the household level.

In a pamphlet for the Michigan Farmers’ Institute meeting of 1910, it is noted that meals could be procured for 25 cents each at the college boarding clubs. Two restaurants supplied food for visitors as well, one of which, called Ye College Inn, was in the basement of Abbot Hall. By 1923, the annual pamphlet for attendees of the Institute noted that meals were widely available on campus at the Women’s Building, Dairy Building, and the Armory, presumably in response to increasing student enrollment. Food service on campus appeared to expand rapidly in the third and fourth periods and by 1951, the union cafeteria was serving meals for one dollar each.

During Period 4 (1925-1955), both the Depression and World War II dramatically affected student life on campus. Many struggled economically with the costs of college and moved off campus to rent inexpensive rooms in town. During these difficult times, MSU faculty and administration encouraged victory gardening. This return to campus-based food sustainability benefitted students who were able to purchase fresh, local foods for as little as $2/week (approximately $33/week today). In 1936, the university began to buy houses intended as co-ops where students could live, budget, and cook together. Historical photographs from this time period show university officials biking to work, clearly promoting fuel conservation during wartime.

In a letter dated May 20, 1929, Professor EL Anthony stated that during his term at the college (1921-1928), there was a general agricultural depression though the dairy industry did not suffer as greatly as livestock and grains production. Anthony noted that prior to 1925, the dairymen in Michigan had produced all products required by state consumers. Additionally, a number of dairy products were exported out of the state, especially butter. After 1925, the demands of the consumers surpassed the dairy production operations in Michigan and it became necessary to import dairy products.

 

Campus Archaeology at GAC

This Friday, Sabrina Perlman and Katy Meyers will be presenting a poster on behalf of Campus Archaeology at the Graduate Academic Conference hosted by the Council of Graduate Students here at MSU’s Kellogg Hotel Conference Center. This is the fifth year of the GAC, a cross-disciplinary and multi-institutional conference that promotes innovation, collaboration, and professionalization.  Over the past four years, the GAC has provided a great great opportunity for graduate and professional students to come together, share research, and initiate discussion and feedback. It also provides a space for networking, recognizing outstanding achievements, and receiving critique of ideas in a constructive environment. It allows for collaborative work between students and faculty and between research institutions. The keynote speaker is Michael Sharber from Western Michigan University, co-founder of GreenLancer Energy Inc. The presentation schedule and more information about the GAC is located here.

This conference is the perfect opportunity for Sabrina to introduce the Heart of Campus project she has been working on since last semester. The poster being presented is entitled, “The Heart of Michigan State University’s Campus: Investigation of MSU’s Changing Landscape, Identity and Priorities.” It essentially asks the question, “Where is the Heart of Campus?” both today and throughout history. Campus Archaeology Program has divided the first 100 years of MSU’s campus into four thematic time periods using archaeological and archival evidence. These time periods represent different stages of campus development in relation to the shifting focus of the college and greater social processes. The purpose of these groupings is to demonstrate shifts in foci and development into MSU. For each period, there is a central location that represents the Heart of Campus, the space where students and faculty convened together, reflecting their sense of place and their identity as a college. As we examine the previous centers of campus and how they reveal the different focal points of MSU’s evolving landscape which correlate with the historical, educational, and regional realities of each period, we are interested in what current students consider the Heart of Campus today and what that means for our collective identity.

Each time period and respective Heart of Campus is determined by archival and archaeological resources that demonstrate what people were experiencing in the greater world and on campus and how these shaped interactions with the MSU landscape and buildings. These centers are as follows: 1855-1870- College Hall and Saints’ Rest, 1870-1900- The Sacred Space, 1900-1925- Red Cedar River, and 1925-1955- Beaumont Tower. Where is the Heart of Campus today? Students will be asked to pinpoint with a sticker on a current map of MSU which location or space on campus represents their collective identity and the interactions of the college with the greater world. If you are interested to see why these locations were the Heart of Campus for these periods and the shifts in identity that the campus was undergoing at each time, come visit the poster on Friday, February 15 from 1-3 pm. We would love to hear your feedback on our categorizations and your perspectives on today’s Heart of Campus and the future trajectory of our institution.

With the help of director Dr. Goldstein and Campus Archaeologist Katy Meyers, working on this poster presentation has been a focusing force for Sabrina in her project and has enabled her to look at the data concisely and categorize the information thematically. This will be invaluable to the completion of her collaborative paper on the Heart of Campus for Campus Archaeology Program and hopefully demonstrate the importance of our work at MSU.