Author: Stacey Camp

Identifying Something You Didn’t Know Existed (by Hank Leversedge)

Identifying Something You Didn’t Know Existed (by Hank Leversedge)

One of the most exciting things about archaeology is that you never know what you’ll find until you start digging, and sometimes you don’t know what you find when you find it, and that is exactly the case with this discovery. While digging the shovel test 

Shovel Testing (by Josie Cowles)

Shovel Testing (by Josie Cowles)

Hello, my name is Josie Cowles and I am a junior here at MSU currently working with the MSU Campus Archaeology Program (CAP) to excavate the old MSU observatory. The foundation was found by the CAP crew in May of 2023, and has been the 

The Basics of a Pedestrian Survey (by Katie Simonson)

The Basics of a Pedestrian Survey (by Katie Simonson)

Hi, my name is Katie Simonson and I am one of the students taking part in the 2024 field school, where we are working on the site of the original observatory here on MSU’s campus. Part of the foundations were found earlier in May of 2023 by CAP, so we are expanding on the work already done. Our field school started on the 28th of May this year, and we went over the history of the site, safety, and got to know our team. We continued this on the next morning, but after that we began the pedestrian survey of the site.

A pedestrian survey is when we walk along the surface of the site to find artifacts on the surface. Since the site is in an area where many people occupy, that means the surface has been very disturbed since the time of the site and it is unlikely we would find any historic artifacts, but it is still important to look. We all walked along a transect, a straight line across the site, that was spaced out a meter apart, and flagged any artifacts we saw. Since the majority of us have never done a pedestrian survey before, we decided to flag all man made objects as practice. After we flagged the objects, we would map their position, take a picture of it, and describe the object using a program called KoboToolbox. If we found anything possibly historic then we put in an artifact bag, otherwise we would dispose of it.

As we predicted, we didn’t find many artifacts that could be historic. We found lots of modern trash including plastic wrappers, cardboard, paper cups, and cans. We also found a rodent bone. Some of the things we found were not historical but still interesting, so were kept by some of us for our own use. For example, I kept a broken cd and a beaded chain to make into a suncatcher. We did find some objects that could possibly be historic, such as pieces from glass vessels, metal bottle caps, and some pieces which were most likely from a dining hall plate. These were bagged for further analysis later.

The pedestrian survey might not have given us much insight into the history of the site, but it did allow us to become familiar with the area and the process of surface survey. On other sites which are less disturbed by modern human activity, it would be more likely to find more historic objects. It is important to know how much a site has been disturbed, because that can affect how we need to study the site.

I hope you enjoyed learning about the pedestrian survey of the 2024 observatory site, and if you are interested in learning more there are plenty of resources on this website about the history of the site and our work here.

A photo of the suncatcher I made using a broken cd and a green beaded chain found during the pedestrian survey.
Recording History (by Olivia Cardinell)

Recording History (by Olivia Cardinell)

The importance of archaeological excavations revolve around the drive to uncover forgotten, and missing pieces of history; my time with Michigan State’s Campus Archaeology Program aided in doing just that. I worked alongside Dr. Stacey Camp and 12 other CAP crew members to dig up 

Campus Archaeology Director (Dr. Stacey Camp) Belated Fall 2023 Update

Campus Archaeology Director (Dr. Stacey Camp) Belated Fall 2023 Update

This past summer has been one of the busiest, if not the busiest, summers of my time as director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program. While we did not have a field school as we generally run them every other year, a remarkable discovery was 

Welcome to 2022-2023

Welcome to 2022-2023

Greetings! This is Dr. Stacey Camp, Director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program. This past year has been one of constant change for our program. We have a new Campus Archaeologist, Ben Akey, after saying goodbye to our last Campus Archaeology, Jeff Burnett. We have managed to keep our program running amid still evolving COVID-19 protocols. And, as discussed in the previous blog post, we returned to running an archaeological field school this summer after two summers without one!

This past week I had the pleasure of celebrating my colleague Dr. Jodie O’Gorman’s career and life’s work as a Midwestern archaeologist at the 2022 Midwest Archaeology Conference. Jodie was an essential part of our program’s earliest days. I also had the chance to present a paper in her honor at a symposium comprised of her colleagues, friends, and former students. The symposium just happened to be organized by none other than our program’s founder and former director, Dr. Lynne Goldstein. The symposium also featured many former MSU Campus Archaeology Program Fellows and Campus Archaeologists.

I chose to give a talk (with Ben Akey and Jeff Burnett) on the work we continue to do on life on MSU’s campus directly after World War II. During my talk, I shared an October 1947 Ladies Home Journal article I happened upon in MSU’s University Archives and Historical Collections. This article examined the lives of veteran students’ wives and children. It also featured some really incredible colorized and black and white photographs of students and campus from 1947.

Richard Wilcox, October 1947, “Spartan Wives,” Ladies Home Journal.

As we have detailed in previous blogs, life on campus during this time period was very different than life on campus today. After World War II, campus transformed into a place that was welcoming to veterans using the GI Bill to pursue an education. President Hannah had the foresight to plan for veterans and their families to live on campus, seeking out millions of dollars to support the construction of temporary housing known as “Spartan City” or “Spartan Village” (the latter not to be confused with today’s Spartan Village).

Families of this generation, who were known as the “GI Generation or Greatest Generation,” delayed having children both due to the Great Depression and World War II, which resulted in the “Baby Boom” or “Boomers” generation in post-WWII America. As a result, hundreds of children lived on campus during the late 1940s and 1950s. When veterans moved into Spartan City, their wives immediately organized to address the needs of these growing households. They created a social and educational organization known as “Spartan Wives.” Spartan Wives helped build a nursery at which both parents were expected to work; they organized charities to support families (on and off campus) in need; they organized medical clinics to help care for the numerous children; they championed activist causes, especially ones that supported women’s access to healthcare and an education; and they established numerous educational opportunities for women and children living in Spartan City. Spartan Wives were awarded “Ph.T.” degrees (which stood for “pushed hubby through”) when their husbands graduated from MSU. These are just a few of the many activities in which Spartan Wives engaged.

Photograph of one of the Spartan Wives as documented by the Ladies Home Journal, “Spartan Wives” (Richard Wilcox, October 1947).

The Spartan Wives’ archives are housed at MSU’s University Archives and Historical Collections, including scrapbooks that detail the rich experiences of club members throughout the club’s history. Many of the artifacts that we recovered during this summer’s archaeological field school (2022) and the summer of 2020’s construction project on Service Road are directly associated with the people who lived on campus immediately following World War II.

Photograph of one of the many photographs found of Spartan City in the MSU University Archives and Historical Collections, Spartan Wives Scrapbook – 1946-1948, Box 2449, Vol 1., 1946-1948, UA 12.3.31.

After spending many hours in the Spartan Wives’ archives, I have been struck by the parallels between the late 1940s and our contemporary world. Both time periods involved rebuilding amidst societal stress and turmoil. The Spartan Wives experienced extreme hardship. When they arrived at Spartan City, they found housing to still be under construction. In some cases, families had to share communal bathing and showering facilities. A Michigan State News article dating to April 23rd, 1948, described Spartan City as follows: “Sand-swept ‘lawns,’ potholed streets, unpainted dwellings, and field problems plague the residents of Spartan City after the inauguration of their local ‘reform’ government…”

Edna Brookover, pictured above with her children (MSU University Archives + Historical Collections, Wilbur Brookover Papers, “Life in Faculty Quonset Village on Cherry Lane – 1946,” Folder 1, Box: File Drawer, Collection, UA 17.156), described life in temporary housing for faculty, some of which comingled with Spartan Village. She wrote a manuscript entitled “Life in Faculty Quonset Village on Cherry Lane – 1946” in 1990, which is held at MSU’s University Archives and Historical Collections. As the wife of a faculty member, Edna had firsthand knowledge of what life was like in Spartan Village. Of the housing complex, she wrote: “Although the buildings were not finished inside, everyone was moving in. For a while some had to use their neighbor’s bathrooms. The Village was teeming with all ages of children, parents, trucks, and workmen” (Brookover, 1990, p. 9).

What can we learn from life on campus after WWII? Despite the tragedies and horrors witnessed by the Greatest Generation, they were able to survive with the little they had. They formed communal bonds with fellow classmates and Spartan City residents, building clubs, nurseries, and mutual aid societies to help others. They started to envision a new campus, one that was broader than the smaller study body it had previously served. As we move forward in these challenging times for both MSU and our world, I think it is best to look back in time and find inspiration in how previous students, staff, and faculty persisted and relied upon each other amid extraordinary obstacles.

Stacey Camp

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Greetings! For those of you just joining our blog for the first time, I am Dr. Camp, the Director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program (CAP). I am entering my 5th year here at MSU, and my 13th teaching as a tenure track faculty member 

Campus Archaeology in the Time of COVID-19

Campus Archaeology in the Time of COVID-19

Greetings from Dr. Camp, the Director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program. This summer has been one of great concern for our community and nation as well as one where we have had to rethink how we approach Campus Archaeology amid a global pandemic. Under 

MSU Campus Archaeology Program Director’s Statement

MSU Campus Archaeology Program Director’s Statement

Since March 2020, our world here in Michigan and in the United States has come undone. Inequities invisible to some but known and repeatedly experienced by people of color, particularly Black Michiganders, in the past and present have been laid bare before our feet. To date, 18,229 Black Michiganders, who constitute 14.1% of the state’s population, have contracted COVID-19. In contrast, 21,968 White Michiganders have contracted COVID-19, while they make up 79.3% of the state. 2,897 White Michiganders have died of COVID-19, while 2,248 Black Michiganders have passed of it to date. To state it bluntly, COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Black Americans in our state.

These gross inequities are the result of systemic racial violence enacted against communities of color in our state and country. Black communities are more likely to be subjected to police and government surveillance as well as policing tactics that involve the use of militarized equipment and technologies that increase rather than decrease the likelihood of injury and death. Black Americans constitute 40% of the incarcerated population while they represent only 13% of the American population. Black men are more likely to die at the hands of police than any other group of people in the United States. Exacerbating these issues is the fact that Black communities in Michigan are less likely to have access to clean water, food, and affordable healthcare, medication, and housing.

Black Americans who have kept the state and country operating and safe amid COVID-19 have also been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Jason Hargrove, a bus driver in Detroit who worked during the pandemic, lost his life to COVID-19 after a woman passenger on his bus coughed near him without covering her face. In other states, Blacks on the front lines have also faced the dual injustices of experiencing racism and violence while potentially sacrificing their lives working during a pandemic. Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician (EMT) working to save lives during the COVID-19 crisis, was shot while sleeping in her home in Kentucky by police. Her family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the wake of her death. Even when Black Americans have sought to help others in the most trying of times, they are still faced with the ugly stain of racism that we should all be decrying in this country.

We, at CAP, recognize Black communities are already acutely aware of these statistics and lived realities. We are writing because we are making a promise to make internal changes to work towards addressing and eradicating white supremacy in our work, in the culture of the archaeologists we train, and in academia as a whole. Though we are still working on identifying how we can better serve communities of color on MSU’s campus in the coming years, we commit to enacting the following policies in the year to come:

  1. Diversity training when new staff join CAP that is evidence-based and confronts the specific legacy of racism and sexual harassment in the discipline of archaeology.
  2. Listening sessions with the students and communities of color we serve on and off-campus to inform and improve programming and outreach work.
  3. Dedicating a minimum of one blog post a month during the academic year to the history of communities of color on MSU’s campus and/or identifying and amplifying the work of archaeologists of color.
  4. A lecture on the history of race relations on campus at the beginning of every CAP field archaeology school.

We, at the MSU Campus Archaeology Program, have spent much of this year in reflection regarding our role on campus and in a society rife with violence. We underserve some communities and overserve others. As we move forward, we refuse to be bystanders to the violence enacted against Black Americans and people of color. We pledge to do better, to learn and listen, and, in doing so, stand with the Black Lives Movement.

For those of you who wish to join us in working towards justice and equality, we encourage you to read critical interventions on the archaeology of African Americans, the African diaspora, and on the archaeology of race. Our list is just a small sample of the many readings out there on this topic. We intend to expand upon it in the coming months and we welcome suggested additions to the list.

Dr. Stacey L. Camp and the CAP Staff


African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter

Archaeology in the Community

The Society of Black Archaeologists

The African Burial Ground

Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery


Tobacco, Pipes, and Race in Colonial Virginia by Anna S. Agbe-Davies

The Materiality of Freedom: Archaeologies of Postemancipation Life edited by Jodi A. Barnes

Black Feminist Archaeology by Whitney Battle-Baptiste

The New York African Burial Ground Project: Unearthing the African Presence in Colonial New York by Michael Blakey

Constructing an Archaeology of Children: Studying Children and Child Material from the African Past by Flordeliz Bugarin

The Taphonomy of Disaster and the (Re)Formation of New Orleans by Shannon Lee Dawdy

Toward an Antiracist Archaeology by Mia L. Carey

Access Denied: African Americans and Access to End-of-Life Care in Nineteenth-Century Washington, D.C. by Justin Dunnavant

Assessing Heritage Resources in St. Croix Post‐Hurricanes Irma and Maria by Justin P. Dunnavant, Ayana Omilade Flewellen, Alexandra Jones, Alicia Odewale, and William White

Critical Race Theory and the Archaeology of the African Diaspora by Terrence Epperson

African Diasporic Choices: Locating the Lived Experiences of Afro-Crucians in the Archaeological and Archival Record by Ayana Omilade Flewellen

A Black Feminist-Inspired Archaeology? by Maria Franklin

“Power to the people:” Sociopolitics and the Archaeology of Black Americans by Maria Franklin

The Rosewood Massacre: An Archaeology and History of Intersectional Violence by Edward González-Tennant

Whiteness Studies: An Archaeology of White Plurality and African American Material Culture by Lewis Jones

Free Black Communities and the Underground Railroad: The Geography of Resistance by Cheryl Janifer LaRoche

Beyond Strategy and Good Intentions: Archaeology, Race and White Privilege by Carol McDavid

Public Archaeology and Critical Histories: Collaborative Archaeology in Southern Illinois by Annelise Morris

Archaeologies of Race and Urban Poverty: The Politics of Slumming, Engagement, and the Color Line by Paul R. Mullins and Lewis C. Jones

An Archaeology of Struggle: Material Remnants of a Double Consciousness in the American South and Danish Caribbean Communities by Alicia Odewale

Archaeology for the Next Generation by Alicia Odewale, Justin Dunnavant, Ayana Flewellen, and Alexandra Jones

The Archaeology of Race and Racialization in Historic America by Charles E. Orser, Jr.

Detroit 139: Archaeology and the Future-Making of a Post- Industrial City by Krysta Ryzewski

Slavery behind the Wall: An Archaeology of a Cuban Coffee Plantation by Theresa A. Singleton

The Archaeology of Antislavery Resistance by Terrance Weik

The Archaeology of Mothering: An African-American Midwife’s Tale by Laurie Wilkie

Looking Forward to 2019-2020

Looking Forward to 2019-2020

As the end of my first year as the Campus Archaeology Program Director is coming to a close, I wanted to share some reflections and thoughts about our work. First, I wanted to say that I have been very lucky to work with our CAP