Time capsules have been around for thousands of years, dating back to ancient Mesopotamia. Early time capsules were generally made of clay. The discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamun, popularly known as King Tut, set off a worldwide craze. Hundreds were inspired to document and preserve what their life was like at that moment. Time capsules have been buried across the country on college campuses, sites of World’s Fairs, and local communities. Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia hosts the International Time Capsule Society. Today’s time capsules are generally made of metal and are water proof.
Often the items placed in time capsules do not include things, like diaries, that capture what is happening in daily life. Instead they are often filled with examples of popular material culture like books, movies, and music. This can be a source of tension for those putting together a collection for a small time capsule. This reoccurring debate was even featured in an episode of the television show Parks and Recreation.
What did the Ohio Society of Professional Engineers choose to put in their time capsule? We do not have a list of its contents. I usually research as much about an object as I can. However, with this time capsule, I will have to wait with everyone else until 2078 to finally find out what is inside!
Have you ever put together a time capsule? What would you include? Have you ever opened one?
Emily Lang, History Curator
Jarvis, William E. Time Capsules: A Cultural History. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2003.