Scenes of Summer at Michigan State

Scenes of Summer at Michigan State

Summer in Michigan brings warm weather, thunderstorms, beach days and, for Campus Archaeology at least, shovel testing, construction monitoring, and CAP’s on campus field school. As we head into a new summer of Campus Archaeology we recap some of the great projects our impressive CAP fellows completed this year and introduce the 2022 field school, which starts Monday, May 23. But first, this year’s CAP Crew looks a bit different, other than Campus Archeologist Jeff Burnett, ever crew member is new to CAP. We also have a greater mix of first time archaeologist – we are bound to have an exciting summer as we learn how to protect and mitigate the cultural heritage of Michigan State’s historic campus. Meet the 2022 CAP Crew: Jeff Burnett, Michael Collins, Emma Creamer, Jayli Husband, Gabrielle Moran-O’Dell, Spencer Phaneuf, Sydney Spaulding, Fatima Vega-Colon, and Thomas Yan.

Field School

We are excited to return to hosting an field school after several years of being prevented from doing so by Covid, providing a valuable opportunity to train undergraduates in various aspects of archaeolo›gical research. Continuing within our recent focus on university life in the mid-twentieth century–CAP’s 2022 field school is focused on investigating an area of campus overlapping with the post-war “Spartan City”–a section of campus that was transformed into a sprawling temporary housing area during MSU’s rapid expansion following World War II and the passage of the GI Bill, which provided educational and housing funding for returning veterans and their families.

An oblique aerial image of the aforementioned post-war temporary housing area on MSU's campus, facing roughly Southeast. The buildings are an assortment of various building forms, including long rectangular 'barracks' style apartments and half-cylinder buildings referred to as 'qounset huts'. In the distance, some more permanent structures can be made out, including the brick faculty buildings known as the 'faculty bricks'. The Jenison Fieldhouse can be seen in the center right of the photograph's foreground.
An oblique aerial image of the aforementioned post-war temporary housing area on MSU’s campus, facing roughly Southeast. The Jenison Fieldhouse can be seen in the center right of the photograph’s foreground. Image courtesy of University Archives and Historical Collections

Through archival research, oral histories, surveying, and excavation of this area of campus, field school students will contribute to ongoing research on this transformative era of MSU’s past while gaining valuable experience in research methodologies useful both within and beyond archaeology. Students will also work on cataloging and analyzing the backlog of materials from the Service Road landfill, designing thematically focused research projects on specific aspects of mid-century campus material culture.

Follow this link to learn about the amazing students attending the field school this year and stay tuned for updates throughout the summer!


In person outreach activities are slowly expanding in Michigan and this year CAP hosted our Apparitions and Archaeology Haunted Tour on campus, presented at Michigan Archaeology Day and MSU’s Science Festival, and created and distributed an artifact mystery quiz!

Digital Cultural Heritage

Adventure Lab

A core tenant of Campus Archaeology has been to share the cultural heritage of Michigan State with our MSU and Michigan communities whether they live in nearby or thousands of miles away. This year CAP Fellows Jack Biggs and Dr. Amber Plemons developed two walking tours of campus using “Adventure Lab” tool. We were originally hesitant to utilize this program – it is a paid service and we were not sure if the one tour, five-location limit could work for our purposes. However, we have found that it is easy to built tours with the tool, the five-site limit encouraged us to make thematic tours, and the ability to tap into the gigantic geocaching community make Adventure Lab a useful, if not perfect tool for sharing MSU’s history and beautiful campus.

qr code with link to
QR code for CAP’s Adventure Lab tours

Find the adventure lab app by clicking this link or scanning the QR code to the right.


Rhian Dunn and Aubree Marshall continued CAPs experimentation with Twine ( – an open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories. We have previously used Twine to create a tour of campus archaeology and a haunted tour of campus – focusing on storytelling as virtual self-guided tours. Our new Twine stories have different approaches:

Research, Conferences, and Publications

Other CAP projects are more behind the scenes – researching topics and writing for professional and public audiences. CAP published on campus archaeology in the Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Record newsletter and Dr. Camp guest-edited and wrote the introduction to the newsletter.

This year CAP fellows also presented at conferences. For the Midwest Archaeological Conference hosted by MSU, Rhian Dunn, Aubree Marshall, and Emily Milton presented a poster for on CAP’s digital outreach during the COVID-19 pandemic entitled, “Armchair Outreach: Campus Archaeology Program During a Pandemic”.

Other research explored the history of Spartan City – a temporary housing community, active from the mid-1940s – early 1960s, that housed World War 2 veterans and their families at Michigan State. Ben Akey and Aubree Marshall wrote blogs on this topic and CAP presented on the history and material culture (cosmetics, toiletries, and ceramics) of Spartan City for the 2022 Society for Historical Archaeology Conference ( This site will be the location of the upcoming 2022 field school and we are excited to see what more we can learn about this fascination community at MSU.

We had a wonderful year – if difficult – 2021-2022 and are looking forward to an exciting summer of archaeology, teaching, and learning! If you see CAP Crew or our field school, wave and stop to ask us questions!

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