Tag: women

The Kitchen Girls: Getting to Know Female Campus Employees in the 1860s (Part 1)

The Kitchen Girls: Getting to Know Female Campus Employees in the 1860s (Part 1)

Michigan State University is a big place. Today the main campus is over 5,200 acres, there are 545 buildings, and over 50,000 students. Campus is essentially its own little city and there’s a large work force of approximately 6,800 support staff employees that work around…

Done Up and Polished: The Brief History of a Nail Polish Topper

Done Up and Polished: The Brief History of a Nail Polish Topper

The Gunson/Admin assemblage continues to reveal gendered historical items linked to early females on campus. Most recently, Lisa Bright alerted me to the presence of a glass nail polish bottle stopper in the collection. Luckily, the logo remains intact and, after some Googling, it was…

Gunson House / Bayha Home Management House

Gunson House / Bayha Home Management House

One of the bigger question surrounding the Hannah Admin building assemblage is, “Where in this area could these high quality ceramics have come from?”. They’re nicer than what would have been found in typical student areas, the site is south of faculty row, and they date to a wide time span.

As Kate mentioned in her last blog, during our research we noticed a building in the general area of the current Hannah Admin building that had potential as the ceramics contributor. On maps prior to 1941, campus building no. 63 is labeled as Greenhouse/ Gunson Residence.

1924 Campus Map Greenhouse
Map of Campus by T. Glenn Phillips March 1924 – Courtesy of MSU Archives

However, following Dr. Gunson’s death in 1940, the building changes names to the Anna E. Bayha Home Management House (sometimes also being labeled just Bayha house, or home economics house). According to the August 28, 1941 Board of Trustees Notes it was Dean Dye, of the College of Human Ecology, that proposed to convert the Gunson residence into another home management practice house.

The home management practice houses were designed to give women enrolled in home management courses practical experience with their new skills. The management house system was started in 1916, and as of 1943 there were four of these houses on campus. The original three were in faculty row (#6 Ellen Henrietta Richards home, #5 Maude Gilchrist home, #4 Ethel Gladys Webb home), and the Bayha house was the newest addition.

Bayha House photo
Scrapbook photo of the Bayha House – Courtesy of MSU Archives

Each home had an advisor, and seven to eight students who were responsible for taking care of the household. During their eight week stay in the house, the girls were tasked with living on three different levels of food costs; 30 cents per person per day, 50 cents, and lastly 75 cents. The program was designed to give students experience in nutrition, meal planning, cooking, and the daily maintenance of a house. (Source: News Paper Article “Here’s Food Budget of 30 Cents a Day” by Bernice Carlson, State Journal Women’s Writer” no date)

Although maps and financial statements provided important information, Kate and I set off to try to find images of the inside of the home, with the hope that perhaps there were some pictures of the ceramics/dishes used by the women.

Thankfully, we were in luck! The archives have a collection of Home Management House scrapbooks, ranging from 1928 to 1971.

Scrapbook Title Page
Bayha Scrapbook Title Page – Courtesy of MSU Archives

We were even further rewarded when we located the scrapbooks specifically associated with the Bayha Home. Although we have not been able to match specific pieces from the assemblage to the photos, they do show a wide variety of dish wear in use within the home.

Scrapbook photo
Scrapbook photo of dinner setting – Courtesy of MSU Archive
Bayha house having tea
Women having tea/coffee – Courtesy of MSU Archive
Corner cabinet china
Corner cabinet with China – Courtesy of MSU Archive
Bayha serving cake
Bayha women serving cake – Courtesy of MSU Archive

Later maps and a President’s report from August 7, 1947 mention that the Bayha house was modified to be used as a nursery school.   This change occurred because of the construction of Polacci Hall.  This building combined all four of the home management houses into units within a single building.  The house remained a nursery until it was razed in late 1953-early 1954 to make room for the new library.

Identifying Gendered Space in MSU’s Past

Identifying Gendered Space in MSU’s Past

For the past several months, CAP fellow Amy Michael and I have been preparing a presentation for the UMass Amherst Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Values conference about gendered landscapes on MSU’s campus. What is a gendered landscape, you ask? A landscape can be considered “gendered”…

#womendigging

#womendigging

On November 24th, Turkey’s president Erdogan declared that women are not equal to men. However, the specific statement that rung across the archaeological community was “You cannot tell them [women] to go out and dig the soil. This is against their delicate nature”. Archaeologists, both…

Breaking All (or some of!) the Rules: Finding Subversion in the Historical Record

Breaking All (or some of!) the Rules: Finding Subversion in the Historical Record

As I’ve researched female students on the historical campus this past semester, I keep finding that humor and resiliency are recurring themes in their scrapbooks and journals. Interestingly, it seems that the mechanism of humor may have been used to deflect contentious attitudes about the female presence on a campus that had been historically male-oriented until the university began systematically admitting women in 1896 (female students were allowed on campus as early as 1870, but lack of academic programs and boarding quelled enrollment numbers).

Feronian Society. Courtesy MSU Archives
Feronian Society. Courtesy MSU Archives

Of course, it should come as no shock that female students have always been funny, creative, engaged, and productive in college life at MSU, but I think that sometimes we gloss over the past with a broad brush, believing that women only studied certain subjects, moved about in certain areas, and kept to certain codes. Not so!

The records kept by the Women’s Student Council from 1917-1934 show many infractions by women who must have been determined to buck some of the traditional standards that applied to them and not to male students. Interestingly, the first order of business called at the first Women’s Student Council meeting was a request by the female senior students to be afforded the same privileges as the male students on campus. It appears that these women understood the university process, and formed their council in response to growing enrollment numbers and desires to have more active voices on campus. Just one month after formation of the council, there is a record detailing a combined meeting of the women’s and men’s councils along with notes about the university president calling meetings to order.

Courtesy MSU Archives
Courtesy MSU Archives

Clearly the council was laying down roots and had the clout to be taken seriously on campus, approximately twenty years after women began enrolling en masse. Rules, proposed and accepted by the council in 1919 demonstrate that was a clear emphasis on honor, conduct, and morality that was directly tied to how women should behave around men; females were given rules regarding calling hours and were expressly not allowed to walk off campus with a male student.

Feronian Society Rules. Courtesy MSU Archives
Feronian Society Rules. Courtesy MSU Archives

It’s hard to conceptualize these rules today, but I believe that female students subverted some of this university and cultural authority by creating humorous takes on their situations. A females literary club, the Feronian Society, listed these tongue in cheek rules for women on campus in the 1905 Gluck Auf manuscript:

 

 

 

 

 

Pieces of the Past: Women’s Scrapbooks from the Turn of the Century

Pieces of the Past: Women’s Scrapbooks from the Turn of the Century

In my last blog, I shared a portion of the draft that I’m working on about gendered spaces on campus. The most challenging part of the project thus far has been isolating documents, folders, or ephemera in the University Archives that can inform the research…

Gendered Spaces: Howard Terrace and Human Ecology

Gendered Spaces: Howard Terrace and Human Ecology

As part of CAP’s ongoing project of understanding gendered spaces on campus, I thought it would be interesting to look at a building that was built with gendered space in mind. The Human Ecology building, which today houses departments like Human Development and Family Studies,…

Archmamas: Archaeology, Motherhood, and Path to PhD

Archmamas: Archaeology, Motherhood, and Path to PhD

By Blair Zaid

The roles for women in the academy are ever expanding. We continue to achieve high levels positions in institutions that have been exceptionally male dominated.  However, one role continues to be a bit daunting for women in the academy and particularly archaeology: the role of mother. The combination of archaeology and motherhood raise important issues on the path to academic success. Few fields are as physically demanding and require such “on the ground” living experiences that can rightfully intimidate a childbearing woman. Also, the extended time in the field affects all of us, but it does have a significant impact on even the most basic childcare recommendations such as breastfeeding and vaccination schedules. So given the complexities of the concerns on a field full of intelligent and capable women, why are we so silent about our maternal experiences?

Motherhood in archaeology is like any excavation, scratch beyond the surface and there are many sources of inspiration! In, 2008 SAA published their latest special edition issue examining the status of women in archaeology and our departments very own Dr. O’Gorman and Dr. Norder contribute to the conversation (Vol. 8 Num. 4). The articles on childcare and the affects of motherhood on our careers offer great insight but little hope to having a ‘successful’ archaeological career once you become a parent. Nonetheless, when we talk to our advisers they share their stories about climbing ancient monuments 8 months pregnant or rushing to their hooding ceremonies with babies on the way! So luckily we are faced with some very positive examples of mama archaeologists. However the question remains, what are some concrete ways that motherhood affects us?

One experience I shared with a number of my colleagues is what I call “a crash of confidence.” While this is similar and almost a crucial point in graduate education in general, once again there is a special shadow that hovers when a women decides to extend her family during her graduate or pre-tenure phase of work. I have been blessed with a child, and as a first time mother, the experience is both life enhancing and life altering.  In many ways my daughters arrival was perfect, yet she also came smack in the middle of my dual degree graduate program and dissertation planning.  I had just survived taking one comprehensive exam while actively planning my wedding.  Pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood have made such normal activities as basic concentration and organization especially difficult, much less reading, processing, and taking notes for research. While some of my insecurities are self inflicted symptoms of an ‘overachiever,’ the academy’s mixed emotions about my path to motherhood was at times less than supportive, especially as a graduate student. At times I considered smaller local projects or even no field work at all. But, I knew that those choices would inhibit my growth as a mother not just an archaeologist.

So, how do you beat this ‘crash of confidence’? We needed to SPEAK UP! Ask for help! The myth of the “how does she do it woman” does more to hurt new mothers than save us. Ask for more time from work, be honest about your levels of exhaustion, and need for child care and health benefits. This puts all our concerns out in the open and then no one is left wondering about or concerns or motives. While speaking up can help us achieve practical support from those around us, we also need to hear the support of other arch-mamas and not just in whispers between meetings. We need spaces to share our triumphs and sorrows and especially a space for us to gather and support each other through the process.

The affects of motherhood on one’s archaeological career are almost immeasurable. The choice to start a family through marriage or expand it with children is often met with sympathy and disappointment, as if making these choices splotches your career. While you may decide to delay your fieldwork, bring your family into international lands, or whatever, the insight motherhood brings is also a strong contribution to our work, even though we only speak about it in the acknowledgements. However, those of us that have the choice and opportunity to have children know that the joys of raising a child come in an endless variety of laughter, pain, and sometimes just plain old silliness. Even as I type this on my laptop a little baby hand reaches out to help press the buttons. As our presence in the field continues to increase, the conversation about the totality of woman’s experiences both in the field and at home, will only enhance our field and the full richness of archaeology.

In conclusion, we know that you really only read this for cute baby pictures so here you go!

Archmamas: Archaeology, Motherhood, and Path to PhD

Archmamas: Archaeology, Motherhood, and Path to PhD

Part II: By Blair Zaid and Erica Dziedzic      The roles for women in the academy are ever expanding. We continue to achieve high levels positions in institutions that have been exceptionally male dominated.  However, one role continues to be a bit daunting for…