Saturday, October 20, 2012

Time Capsules Still Mark Milestones

When asked about her school's history, she answered that she had a memory of a time capsule buried here when the building was erected. It may be just another artifact waiting for us to find it. Dinosaur bones. Gold nuggets in a riverbed. Lost tombs. My grandmother's ring lost while busy at play when I was five. Perhaps someone will find the artifact. Perhaps someone already has. Perhaps it will sit forever, watching people come and go, witnessing the changing seasons with no feeling at all. Still. Lost. Almost forgotten.

December, 2015, marks the 50th anniversary of my school building. That thought hit me during our first school archives meeting this week. I sat with a library assistant and our first student archives volunteer, a freshman, who will be spending her senior year with us when the milestone is reached. We were discussing how to launch into a school archives. What can garner enough interest to encourage many volunteers who will stay to see the growth of this project? Anniversaries often mark great archives launching opportunities. How fortuitous is it that our building's 50th anniversary approaches?

A few years ago, I served as an advisor on a time capsule project for the high school in the town in which I live.  The time capsule was made by a member of the first senior class to be graduated from the school. With this memory in the back of my head, I had the thought that the high school where I work must have a time capsule somewhere. Perhaps one was placed in the cornerstone of the building. Perhaps one was placed sometime during the last fifty years to mark a special occasion such as the lunar landing or the end of the cold war.

Many stories of past generations and our historical
communities remain hidden. I found this album in an
antique shop. I wonder what gems are hidden right under
my feet!

We've begun spreading the word about our work. The high school Friday memo, newsletter, morning announcements, flyers, web site, and our twitter feed are the first places we are reaching out. We are telling about our plan to collect the historical documents and other artifacts of our school, with an initial focus on comparing the students of the two-thousand teens with the students of the 1960s. From this idea, we will create a collection development policy and begin recruiting committee members.

Oral history will likely play a large role in our archives. The library assistant who participated in our first meeting has already approached some of the older staff members. One woman was a sophomore when the school building opened. She told us that she seems to remember a time capsule that was placed in the main entry way of the building. The main entry way is no longer our primary entrance. It makes perfect sense to me that a time capsule may have been buried in that hallway. We are going to ask more questions of our community to see what other memories we can dig up. Perhaps there may be some paperwork about it somewhere too. Maybe there is even a news article from the local paper that marks the milestone and mentions the artifact.

I can hear the time capsule calling to us. (I choose to believe that it does exist and will work with that assumption for now.) We are excited about preparing our own time capsule to connect the dots between 1965 and 2015. I'd like to leave a note to encourage those around in 2065 to continue the tradition, creating a chain through the milestones in our history that will be dotted by cultural artifacts.

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