Saturday, January 10, 2015

What's in Your Time Capsule?

“According to the International Time Capsule Society at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, there are approximately 10,000 time capsules in the world. However, they also estimate that no one remembers where 9,000 of them are buried.” –

Recently, repairmen working at the Massachusetts State House in Boston discovered a time capsule originally placed in the building’s cornerstone by founding fathers Samuel Adams and Paul Revere in 1795. How exciting finding and opening that box must have been for those involved, and because of the technology we have today, millions of people were able to see the box’s contents via various media.

The box contained five folded newspapers,  23 coins, a copper medal with George Washington’s image and the words “General of the American Army,” a seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a title page from the Massachusetts Colony Records, and a silver plate with fingerprints still on it, bearing an inscription dedicating the State House cornerstone on the 20th anniversary of American independence in July 1795. Since the plate was silver, it is assumed that famous silversmith Revere made it.

The Paul Revere/Samuel Adams time capsule and its contents

Time capsules are fascinating because they are actual artifacts left for future people to discover. Finding one makes a person feel like a true archaeologist. 

These memory containers are scattered throughout the world, and I understand why so many are lost. I can't remember where to find my shoes from day to day. 

It’s interesting to see what people think is worthy of being placed in one. Most of the time, the contents are items that represent that particular location and events. Usually there’s a newspaper, photos, medals, coins, etc., but I found several stories about strange items in several capsules.

For example, the National Millennium Time Capsule in Washington, D.C., buried in 2000 and scheduled to be opened in 2100, actually contains a Hostess Twinkie. In 2007, the people of Tulsa, Oklahoma unearthed a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere with only 7 miles on its odometer. 

A 1957 Plymouth Belvedere like the one placed in the Tulsa time capsule.

The car was placed there, along with a gallon of gas and some Schlitz beer, to be opened in 50 years and awarded to the person or his descendants who correctly guessed the population of Tulsa in 2007. 

Workers unearthing the Tulsa Belvedere

Here’s the story of the outcome of that time capsule: Tulsa Time (not the song by Don Williams)

The Time Capsule Company sells mini time capsules to be filled on a wedding day or on the day of a baby’s birth. The prices range from $20 to $70 for the product. They also offer ideas for items to be placed in time capsules which include:

I'm sure there are events I have lived through worth remembering. At least, wouldn’t they be exciting to some unknown entity 100 years from now? So what would I put into a time capsule to be opened in the future? I tried to think of items that would not only represent me but society as well and found it very difficult. I asked some of my students, and their first response was “My phone!” I’m not surprised at that suggestion.

Here’s my list of several worthy items that I would include:

A high school yearbook: I know books are on the way out with all the advanced technology and that digital cameras make seeing pictures of your friends all too easy; however, I think school yearbooks are here forever. Maybe I’m prejudiced because I was a yearbook sponsor for 33 years, but I have seen various forms of technology come and go, but that book has stayed. A yearbook can show people in the future what our youth was like as well as fashion, trends, sites and events of the day.

A K-cup: To me, this little coffee pod is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Is it because I was the official coffee maker in my house for my adult life and got sick of cleaning the pot and preparing the coffee for the next day? Probably, but I love the perfect cup of coffee the K-cup makes every time and with such ease.

A “selfie”: What better way to capture the huge egos of today? With Snap Chat, texting, Instagram and Facebook, we can show our faces in front of many fascinating backdrops/scenes.

A selfie taken at Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina

A collection of great albums: My choices would be Beyonce (always my #1), Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, and Norah Jones.

 A bottle of cheap wine: I don’t drink, but I’d bet that even a cheap bottle today would be worth a lot of money if it were 100 years old.

It’s fun to consider what is important enough to share with future generations. Paul Revere and Samuel Adams thought their items were worthy. Maybe the people in charge of their time capsule will throw in a bottle of Sam Adams beer when they replace it in the Massachusetts State House. That would really confuse future finders.

What would you put in a time capsule?