of the Crypt
Inventory of the Crypt
Pictures of the Crypt
International Time Capsule Society
on Building a Time Capsule
The Nine Most
Wanted Time Capsules
Time Capsule Secrets
Time Capsules in the News
What is a Time Capsule?
The 1989 Oxford English Dictionary defines a
time capsule as "a container used
to store for posterity a selection of objects
thought to be representative of life at a
Time capsules are interesting to people of
all ages and touch people on a world-wide
scale. Properly prepared time capsules preserve
the salient features of history and can serve
as valuable reminders of one generation for
another. Time capsules give individuals,
families and organizations an independent voice
to the future.
The International Time Capsule Society (ITCS)
is an organization established in 1990 to
promote the careful study of time capsules. It
strives to document all types of time capsules
throughout the world. The group is
headquartered at Oglethorpe University in
Founding ITCS committee members have for
years researched and consulted about time
capsules. ITCS founders include four time
capsule experts from across the United States
- Knute "Skip" Berger, a Seattle-based
writer; executive director of the Washington
Centennial Time Capsule project: author of
"Time Capsules in America" in The People's
Almanac #2 (1978).
- Dr. Brian Durrans, anthropologist and consultant, formerly senior curator in the British Museum; author of “Posterity and paradox: some uses of time capsules,” in Sandra Wallman (ed.), Contemporary futures: perspectives from Social Anthropology [ASA Monographs no. 30] (London & New York, Routledge, 1992, pp.51-67).
- Paul Hudson, author of "The Oglethorpe
Atlanta Crypt of Civilization Time Capsule",
in the Georgia Historical Quarterly (1991).
- William Jarvis, former head of
acquisitions/serials at Washington State
University Library: author of "Time Capsules"
in the Encyclopedia of Library and
Information Science (1988). Telephone - (509)
The ITCS is currently setting up a registry
of time capsules. The society estimates there
are approximately 10,000 capsules worldwide,
most of them lost (see Harper's Index, November
1990). This ambitious project will be a
continuing process and is one of the most
important ITCS functions.
The ITCS database will serve to remind
future generations of existing capsules so they
are not forgotten or lost. Many correspondents
from the United States, Canada and Europe
already have written to ITCS, with information
on their time capsule projects. If your
organization wishes to register its time
capsule, you are encouraged to contact ITCS.
Annual ITCS conferences are scheduled to be
held at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. ITCS
members and guests from around the world meet
to discuss time capsule projects and to pool
The inaugural meeting of ITCS was held at
Oglethorpe University in the spring of 1990, on
the 50th anniversary of the sealing of the
Crypt of Civilization. The first ITCS meeting
drew the attention of the New York Times, the
International Herald Tribune London Daily Mail,
ABC, CNN, the Associated Press, National Public
Radio and many other media.
The Mission of ITCS
ITCS believes that as humankind approaches
the new millennium, there will be increasing
interest in time capsules. Therefore, the ITCS
- To maintain a registry of all known time
- To establish a clearing house for
information about time capsules.
- To encourage study of the history,
variety and motivation behind time capsule
- To educate the general public and the
academic community concerning the value of
Why Locate the ITCS at Oglethorpe
Oglethorpe University is an appropriate
location for the study of time capsules. It is
the site of the famed Crypt of Civilization.
The Guiness Book of World Records (1990)
identifies the Crypt as "the first successful
attempt to bury a record of this culture for
any future inhabitants ...."
The Crypt was first proposed by Oglethorpe's
president, Thornwell Jacobs, the "father of the
modern time capsule," in an article in the
November 1936 issue of Scientific American. The
Crypt was sealed on May 28,1940, and it is not
to be opened until May 28, 8113 A.D. Dr. Jacobs
calculated this date from the first fixed date
in history, 4241 B.C. when most historians
believe the Egyptian calendar was established.
Exactly 6177 years had passed between 4241 B.C.
and 1936 A.D. Jacobs projected the same period
of time forward from 1936, arriving at the year
8113 A.D. for the Crypt's opening.
The encyclopedic inventory of items in the
Crypt includes, in a swimming pool size
chamber, over 640,000 pages of micro-filmed
material, hundreds of newsreels and recordings,
a set of Lincoln logs, a Donald Duck doll and
thousands of other items, many from ordinary
daily life. There also is a device designed to
teach the English language to the Crypt's
Jacob's idea in 1936 created tremendous
interest. Soon afterward the Westinghouse
Company, which was building a pavilion for the
1938-39 New York World's Fair, buried a
project, which was not to be opened until 6938
A.D. It was called a "Time Capsule" and our
language gained a new term almost overnight.