Tag: research

Meet CAP’s Fall Fellows

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 

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

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 

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

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

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 

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 

Campus Archaeology at GAC

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.

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. 

Researching Historic MSU Dissertations

Researching Historic MSU Dissertations

This semester, I have been searching the MSU Library for resources that would potentially be useful to the Campus Archaeology Program.  I have been working on creating a database that contains a list of Michigan State University theses and dissertations of which some aspect of 

University and Identity

University and Identity

Identity and university are connected in multidimensional ways. First, there is the individual student who shapes her identity based on the people, activities, and knowledge she is associated with from the time she starts her college experience. She also already has an identity she brought with her that developed before she came to school; she may subscribe to definitions of identity that the greater society has designated for her as well as developed an identity based on significant occurrences in her home, town, state, or country. The individual student also negotiates her identity with that of the school itself, embodying the values, concerns, and persona of the student body and the university history (case in point- I knew nothing about football before I arrived at MSU. That has most certainly changed.). Moreover, the school itself forms its identity dialectically on two levels: with the processes of the greater culture and by the identities of its students. Because campuses bring people together that may not have normally otherwise met, dynamics such as race, gender, and sexual orientation confront us full-force both in our interactions with each other on campus and the in mainstream rhetoric, forcing students to bolster their sense of who they are and what they stand for.  As we navigate through the different meanings of social occurrences, tragedies on campus and struggles and achievements of individual students, we develop and shift our identity as a school and our identities as individuals.

For my project about the changing heart of our campus over time, I am analyzing these same questions as they pertain to different uses of campus space and what these spaces say about our changing state of identity.

Newspaper Clipping via MSU Archives and Historical Records

In a scrapbook in the university archives, I came across a newspaper clipping from around 1908 that described a debate going on on campus at the time. Just to give a little background, during this period M.A.C. had their first greatly successful football season. October 10, 1908, the team tied with U of M at 0-0 and were otherwise undefeated that fall. According to the scrapbook author, Kenneth D. Van Wagnen, this “marked the start of MAC’s upward march in athletics, which in the years following brought it to the top among the colleges of the Mid-West, and, indeed, of the nation.” He also felt that all of the new events and clubs on campus were contributing to the “improvement of the cultural atmosphere at the college.” The newspaper clipping discusses a proposition to adopt caps and gowns as mandatory uniforms to be worn on campus. During the course of this debate leading up to the vote, it was uncertain which side would win. It says that all of the women and some of the men supported it at first. Then, the engineers realized how much of a pain this custom would prove to be in the laboratory, and the senior class voted two thirds against the movement. The subtitle of the article reads: “Are Not Appropriate. Collegians Think Garb Out of Place at School Like M.A.C.”

It is clear that the college was already beginning to form its identity and this situation confronted them, causing them to analyze and make a decision about who they were going to be. It was deemed that a school that only teaches technical subjects should not try to mimic another type of school. The garb custom did not feel right and was not representative of what the students envisioned M.A.C. to be about. I argue that this situation further solidified M.A.C.’s identity. What went forward was a community that embraced their unique identity that was based on their curriculum and collective academic goals.

Going forward we are interested in how the school’s identity shifted according to processes in the world and the different stages it took to get us to where we are today. Additionally, we want to do some further analysis to see where students currently view the heart of campus and perhaps how this heart shapes our collective and individual identities.

Update on the Sustainability Project

Update on the Sustainability Project

Throughout the course of this semester, I will be writing up the results of my archival research as they pertain to the archaeological materials recovered by CAP. I expect to revisit the University Archives several more times to read through some older documents, but I