Creating a Family Time Capsule



I have always been fascinated by the concept of time capsules! It is a way to preserve the past in a manner that is very personal to those involved. Opening them up, years later, feels like having a magical key to your own history, resulting in a rush of pleasant memories. There are countless time capsules hidden away, waiting to be discovered, both in private homes and publicly. The “Crypt of Civilization” is an enormous time capsule that was placed in the administration building of what used to be Oglethorpe College in Atlanta, Georgia. Locked away in 1940 in a 20 x 10 chamber, the contents are incredibly varied! It holds 640,000 pages of microfilmed books and religious texts, an early television set, beer, Lincoln Logs, a language integrator to teach English, miniature models, and films dealing with all aspects of life at the time. The location of the vault has been recorded in universities, libraries, and temples across the world so that people will remember that it is there and when to open it. There should definitely be many reminders, considering that the capsule is not to be opened until the year 8113!

Thankfully, creating your own family’s time capsule will be a much simpler process! The first thing to do is to find a sturdy container that is durable and waterproof. You should make sure that it will not crush easily and add a silica gel-pack to absorb any moisture. It would also be a good idea to pop in a mothball or two! Despite the tradition of burying a time capsule, it isn’t the best idea. When unearthed, it has usually been transformed into a soggy mess. However, there are places that sell specially designed time capsules, perfect for burying, if that option is important to you.

So, what should you place inside your capsule? The options are nearly limitless, but here are some ideas: letters to their future selves written by each family member, current pictures of each person, as well as family photos, old toys, report cards, certificates, favorite crafts, favorite family recipes, clothing, et cetera. It is also nice to include pictures of your home, favorite places to go as a family, schools, church, pets, vehicles, extended family and friends. In permanent ink, write the date, locations, names, and reasons for inclusion on the backs of the photographs. You could also include your local newspaper as well as a fun questionnaire for each family member to fill out regarding their favorite things to do, music, shows, what they expect from the future, and any other question whose answer you think would be interesting to read in the future. You may want to include a journal that includes everyone’s names, birth dates, family history, funny stories, genealogical information, important events in your family history, and short autobiographies.

Be certain to leave out any food items or batteries. The batteries leak and the corrosive acid will damage the other items you include. Do not use staples or paper clips, as they will rust all over your items. You may be tempted to include videos or some other use of current technology, but it is not really a great idea. By the time the time capsule is opened, it could be so obsolete and inoperable that it was simply a waste of your time. It is best to stick with old-school paper, ink, and photographs.

Once you have added all of your items, plan an entertaining ceremony when sealing and hiding the time capsule. Mark the date it is to be opened in permanent ink on the outside. There are several options when it comes to the capsule’s hidden location. If you have a water-sealed box, you can bury it. Some people even place them inside of walls or in the base of a statue in the garden. Other options include attics, crawl spaces, or even just high up in a seldom-used closet.

You have sent your family’s message into the future! Imagine the faces of your little ones as adults, delighted to see their past and the plans they had for the future as small tots. Whether you leave it for ten years, twenty years, or more…you have captured your dreams for the future in the happiness of the present, and all who open it in later years will be delighted by the memories!


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