What Should Our Next Time Capsule Contain?

Here’s what’s (ostensibly) in the time capsule from 49 years ago, buried on the 200th anniversary of Charlottesville:

  • The Daily Progress and Wall Street Journal
  • A letter from Mayor Lewis Scribner to the mayor of 2012
  • The Daily Progress’ ceremonial edition on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the city
  • Chamber of Commerce publications
  • Maps and pictures
  • A letter from the fire chief to the fire chief of 2012

Now, that ain’t bad, but it doesn’t show any particular imagination on the part of the people who buried the thing in 1962. Since it’s a foregone conclusion that there’s going to be another time capsule buried next year, to be opened on the occasion of some future anniversary, what should be in that one? What is our message to the people of the future—or, if it’s fifty years from now, ourselves in the future (for some of us)?

18 thoughts on “What Should Our Next Time Capsule Contain?”

  1. How about something plastic like vinyl siding for homes. What will the next home siding product be when the capsule is opened 50 years from now.


    A CD, computer or an ipod. Technology is moving so fast.

  2. Good point about technology, Anita. I was wondering how one could present digital materials, but I have a tough time believing that any format that we’d put it in would be easily readable in 50 years. The eight-inch floppy was introduced just forty years ago, and we’d be hard-pressed to read one of those now. Anything much older would present a real challenge.

  3. Did this discussion idea come up before or after watching Parks and Rec last night? :-)

    @Patience, perhaps a bottle of Kluge Estate wine? It probably won’t be around in 50 years…

  4. Pull a random selection of 10 blog postings from the cville blog aggregator, print them on quality paper (along with comments) and include the wikipedia entry describing what a weblog is.

    Take a few photos of the free speech monument downtown. I’m curious if it will still be there in 50 years.

    Put drinking water in sealed tubes. Possibly a scientist will marvel at its relative purity or consider our chlorination and fluoridation practices akin to healing humours and using leaches for medicine. At least I’m curious if drinking water quality improves or not.

    Include a common person’s utility bills.

    Ultimately, find ways of putting something that doesn’t look like elected or public people mincing words to the future — make it real.

  5. I would put menus from various restaurants around town. Also a couple of playbills/schedules from the local venues. Along the same line, we should throw in some school books (especially science/technology) and schedules

    Add some documentation about the development fights currently going on (the dam, meadowcreek parkway) to show people that no matter what old timers of the day say we fought like cats and dogs in our day as well. We should also include copies of any of our current long term plans (Places29/master plans) to see how they turned out.

    Anything that is locally produced that will not spoil in 50 years, virginia wine does not make that list, but maybe throw in some wine trail brochures.

    I like the idea of letters from current civic leaders to future civic leaders, but i would expand it some, maybe school children to their future selves.

    Some old pennys, they will be worth nothing as currency, but worth thousands in copper.

    Something UVA related, cannot really think of what would be good though. Maybe some info on the school right now, along with their longterm plans.

    Twinkies along with a dare to eat one. Lets test the myth.

  6. I actually don’t get any TV channels—I can only see what’s on Netflix. :) This post was a result of an e-mail I sent a few days ago, to find out what’s in the existing time capsule. So, yeah, no idea about Parks and Rec—what happened in last night’s episode? (And I’m only up to 3/4 of the way through Season 2, so no spoilers! :)

    Good ideas here, folks! Duane, I like your point best: “find ways of putting something that doesn’t look like elected or public people mincing words to the future — make it real.”

  7. Moderate republicans and democrats, because they are quickly becoming extinct. The constitution, because it keeps getting changed or re-interpreted to meet the needs of the crazy tea partiers. A book about respect and civility to remind us of how wonderful the world used to be.

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