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Collections up Close: Object of the Week

--from MSU Museum, the science and culture museum at Michigan State University 

The Michigan State University Museum collects, preserves, studies and interprets cultural artifacts and natural science specimens. The Museum holds nearly one million items in the collections and its curators have been collecting since the Museum was founded in 1857. 
The MSU Museum displays only a small fraction of its artifacts and specimens at any one time. In this feature, MSU Museum curators, collection managers, and student interns share the richness and depth of MSU Museum collections.
To view previous Collections Up Close features click here.


April 27, 2016

Etched Glass of a Sporting Sort: Michigan Agricultural College’s 1904 Footballers Memorialized in Old Abbot Hall
Discovered in 1956 by workmen razing old Abbot Hall, this glass window pane contains the names of eleven Michigan Agricultural College football team members in 1904, when the team posted an 8-1 record. ¬†One of the workmen donated it to the MSU Museum. The ‚Äúnames of the football players have been scratched on with a diamond or glass cutter or something of the sort,‚ÄĚ noted curator Frank Elliott. ‚ÄúWe have been unsuccessful in finding out who did it.‚ÄĚ
Perhaps the vandal could be forgiven this act of memorialization of the team’s success. The football squad that year beat not only Michigan but enjoyed a 104-0 victory over Hillsdale College. The second half of that game was shortened by five minutes at the behest of the Hillsdale team. The Aggies outscored their opponents 380-16 that season under Coach Chester L. Brewer. (You may read the M.A.C. Record account of the game at the MSU Archives and Historical Collections website). 
The names etched in this glass pane include:
Wilbur G. Holdsworth, Left End
Robert F. Bell, Left Tackle and co-captain
James E. Fisk, Left Guard 
H. B. McDermid, Center 
George P. Boomsliter, Right Guard
Frank Kratz, Right Tackle and co-captain
A. Ashley, Right End
Walter H. Small, Quarterback
H. D. Hahn, Left Halfback
S. W. Doty, Fullback 
E. B. McKenna, Right Halfback
--Contributed by Shirley Wajda, Curator of History


December 11, 2014

With close to a million items, the MSU Museum archaeological collection, composed of artifacts from before and after the European arrival, is among the largest systematically-collected and organized Great Lakes region archaeological resources at any institution. Most of the collections derive from extensive work in northwestern Michigan on sites dating from as early as 9,000 years old through the 19th century. In addition, there are collections from sites in the Inland Waterway of northern Michigan, the St. Mary’s River system of the Upper Peninsula, and sites dating as early as 6000 years old from the Saginaw River drainage. 
Our collections also hold survey and excavation materials from sites in central lower Michigan, including the Grand River system and its tributaries; the Maple, Looking Glass, and Red Cedar Rivers. Most of the sites from which these collections derive, regardless of their geographic origins within the state, have since been destroyed by modern development. Our collections are the last systematically collected research materials from most of these areas, and form an invaluable archive for future work by professionals, students, avocationalists, and the general public.
The archaeological collections are used by faculty, graduate students, and visiting scholars for research, and for teaching courses in North American and Great Lakes Archaeology, Historical Archaeology, European Archaeology and Laboratory Methods in Archaeology as well as others.  The collections have formed the nucleus of many publications, including Master’s theses and Doctoral dissertations as well as monographs, peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters, and are used in public schools, as well as in Museum exhibits. 
Undergraduate students regularly work with the collections, giving the students hands-on experience in the processing and rehousing of archaeological materials. 
In 2013 the MSU Museum received a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services to upgrade the storage and housing for the archaeology collections.  The grant provided funding for a mobile compact storage system to increase our effective storage space and collections access.  Staff also purchased acid-free boxes, inert bags and labels to rehouse and help to preserve these valuable collections.
The Institute for Museum and Library Services, a federal agency, is an invaluable source for funding behind-the-scenes projects at the MSU Museum and museums around the country.  These projects may not be visible to the public, but are essential to the preservation of collections.  Thank you IMLS!
--Contributed by Lynne Swanson, Collections Manager for Cultural Collections