hold slices of
An organization promotes
the popular practice of preserving
and storing common items
Capsules located throughout islandsBy Eloise Aguiar
History will record the most noteworthy events, discoveries and personalities of the millennium. But people all across America are taking steps to preserve everyday aspects of their lives in time capsules.
"It's a great way to be part of the millennium madness," said Paul Hudson, co-founder of the International Time Capsule Society in Atlanta. "If you're not feeling the millennium, here's a great way to figure out how you feel about it."
The society promotes the study of time capsules, which Hudson said are a great way to trace popular culture. An American phenomenon, the phrase "time capsule" was coined in the U.S. and the concept caught the imagination of people when Westinghouse Corp. buried the first one at the 1939 World's Fair.
That bullet-shaped capsule was made from an alloy of tempered copper, chromium and silver. The contents, sealed in an airtight glass envelope, included small, commonly used items like fountain pens and alphabet blocks.
Items chosen for time capsules define their creators and their interests, Hudson said. Anything is appropriate: whoopee cushions, Pokemon, condoms, hardware store receipts.
"It's fun, doesn't cost anything, but it's really for the naive and optimistic," Hudson said. "If you're cynical, you don't think the future holds much and you're not really interested in people you don't know."
The International Time Capsule Society offers these tips on how to organize a time capsule:
Retrieval date tops
checklist for projects
1. Select a retrieval date. The longer the duration, the more difficult the task. Centennial (100-year) time capsules are popular.
2. Choose an "archivist" or director. Committees are good to share the workload, but a single person needs to direct the project.
3. Select a container. A safe is a good choice. The interior of containers should be cool, dry and dark. (One of the earliest time capsules was the Century Safe for the Centennial Exposition of 1876.) For ambitious (century or more) projects, there are professional time capsule companies. The ITCS can provide information.
4. Find a secure indoor location. It is not recommended that time capsules be "buried" -- thousands have been lost in this way. It is important that the location be marked with a plaque describing the "mission" of the time capsule.
5. Try to have a mix of items from the sublime to the trivial. Items are usually donated. The archivist should keep an inventory of all items sealed in the capsule.
6. Have a solemn "sealing ceremony" where you formally christen the time capsule with a name. Invite the media and keep a good photographic record of your efforts, including the inside of your completed project.
7. Don't forget your time capsule! It is surprising how often this happens, usually within a short time. Try to "renew" memories of the capsule with anniversaries and reunions. You might also send out invitations to the projected opening.
8. Inform the ITCS of your completed time capsule project. The ITCS will add your time capsule to its database in an attempt to register all known time capsules.
In Hawaii, people have organized time capsules for anniversaries, building blessings and memorials. The city and state governments, businesses, schools and individuals all have preserved a part of the past for future generations.
The Children's Discovery Center, for example, held a contest in 1996 to name items for a time capsule to be buried the following year.
"The items were so endearing that I couldn't bring myself to bury the time capsule," said Loretta Yajima, president of the center's board of directors. The items, including gifts from each of the center's sponsors with a wish for the children, is on display in the boardroom.
Kahuku Hospital, Windward Community College, Iolani School kindergartners and Moanalua Middle School are among groups planning to create time capsules for 2000.
"It's a simple way to make a connection with the future," said Lillian Cunningham, English instructor at Windward Community College. On Oct. 13, the college sponsored Millennium Vision Day and attendees were asked to write a note to the future on a 3-by-5-inch card. The notes and other articles will be placed in the Humanitarian Building, now under construction. A plaque will mark the capsule's location, which is important, Hudson said.
The number of lost time capsules has mounted over the years as people move away, die or forget. Secrecy, poor planning and thievery also contribute to the problem. More than 10,000 are lost, he said, and his organization wants to stem that tide by registering time capsules worldwide.
Iolani kindergartners won't lose their time capsule because it'll be stored at the school until the children graduate, said teacher Kim Yelas. The capsule, organized by parents, includes toys, personal biographies, a class photograph and a class video.
At Moanalua Middle School, each class has made a collective decision about what to place in its time capsule. "It represents what they want to leave as a legacy or reminder to the future of who they were and what they stood for," said Nohea Chang, the school's activity coordinator.
The 42 classes had to fit all of their items in a shoe box-size container, to remain in the school's office until its opening in 2025.
Keeping a time capsule beyond 50 years requires special care because items may not withstand the test of time, Hudson said. The Oglethorpe University, where Hudson is registrar and a history lecturer, buried its time capsule in 1940 and scheduled its opening for 8113. Called the "Crypt of Civilization," the swimming pool-size chamber contains more than 640,000 pages of microfilmed material, hundreds of newsreels and recordings, among other things. The crypt is listed in the "Guinness Book of World Records."
Hudson had no idea how the capsule would fare. "It was a good-faith effort. No one knows if it will survive."
With the turn of the century, interest in time capsules has increased, Hudson said. The society receives 15 to 30 calls a day, but the Star-Bulletin's inquiry was the first from Hawaii.
"In the 48 states, Americans are going time-capsule crazy," he said.
Churches, schools, businesses, companies, Boy Scouts, universities and families are leaving their insights to the future. When registering their capsules, more and more are saying it's to mark the millennium.
"It's a perfect way to write yourself into history," Hudson said.
To register a time capsule or to learn more about the "Crypt of Civilization," visit the International Time Capsule Society Web page at http://www.oglethorpe.edu/itcs.
Containers of mementosBy Eloise Aguiar
from passing century located
Some time capsules around Hawaii:
Brothers in Valor Memorial, at Saratoga Road and Kalakaua Avenue, to be opened 50 years from its July 4, 1998, dedication.
Lists the names of soldiers who were killed in action as well as members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the 199th Infantry Battalion, the Military Intelligence Service and the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion.
The time capsule also contains books about the 442nd RCT and the names of donors to the memorial.
State Office Building in Kapolei, to be opened in 2034.
1. Letter from Gov. Ben Cayetano, Campbell Estate Board of Trustees Chairman Clint Churchill and Kapolei Elementary School student Nicole Enriquez.
2. Letter and video from Campbell Estate.
3. Essays from 25 Kapolei Elementary School students.
Moanalua Middle School.
1. A booklet with pictures of today's fashions, including shoes, hairstyles and clothes.
2. A 1999 penny and dime to compare with money of the future and indicate that students value money.
3. Autographed messages from each student, including: Don't smoke, don't do drugs, eat fish and cereal.
4. A Hawaii flag, because Hawaii became a state this century.
5. A condom, because students are sexually active and condoms are no longer treated secretively.
Kapiolani Park, to be opened June 11, 2077, 100 years after it was buried in the park.
1. Mementoes of the day the capsule was buried, including newspapers, and recordings of radio and TV shows.
2. A message to the future from futurist Jim Dator, University of Hawaii professor.
3. Playback mechanisms.
Hawaii Convention Center, no date set to open.
1. A copy of Gov. Ben Cayetano's 1998 State of the State address.
2. Gavel from Sen. President Norman Mizuguchi.
3. Two framed pages from the Aug. 4, 1997, Star-Bulletin about the center.
4. A copy of House Bill S7, the 1993 measure that formally approved the center's site.
5. "Final site instructions" from the Honolulu architectural firm of Wimberley, Allison, Tong & Goo.
Tripler Army Hospital.
In 1947, a time capsule was placed in the cornerstone of the original building and the capsule was opened in 1998, the 50th anniversary of the hospital.
The 1947 capsule contained, among other items, Hawaiian coins and paper money, and newspaper articles. These were added to the 1998 capsule, which includes a CD of songs by Queen Liliuokalani. But no one can remember what else is in the capsule, which will be opened in 2000.
Maemae Elementary School.
A time capsule was created in 1997, the 100th anniversary of the school. Placed in the library, it will be opened in 2047. School officials decided not to bury the capsule because an earlier one buried in 1932 or 1933 was difficult to find.
That capsule was made from an old tin bento container, and held a bus token used on electric-powered buses, and coins.
The 1997 capsule includes a photograph of each grade level and messages from each class.
National Endowment of the Humanities.
Seven time capsules were buried on Kauai for the U.S. bicentennial and will be opened in 2076. President Ford sent a letter of commendation to Frank O. Hay, who organized the project.
The project sought ways for academe to interface with citizens. Hay held community meetings at seven West Kauai communities to discuss important issues. People were given plastic containers like the type used for prescription drugs, and acid-free paper to write a note.
Individuals also were given a certificate of deposit, which included coordinates to find the location of the time capsules, which were made of PVC pipe.
Teeth, religious medals and coins were included.
Gary Andersen, who helped organize the project, contributed a slide collection of Kauai sites.
The U.S. Air Force has three capsules. Their locations:
1. Outside the steps of the 15th Air Base Wing Headquarters at Hickam Air Force Base, buried July 1976 for the U.S. Bicentennial, to be opened during the Tricentennial in 2076. It contains:
Base maps; copies of essays from the bicentennial essay contest; history of Hickam Air Force Base; and organizational charts.
2. At the foot of the base's flagpole, buried Dec. 7, 1991, for the 50th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Hickam. To be opened on the 100th anniversary of the attack, Dec. 7, 2041.
Photographs of the 11th Bomb Wing Group, survivors of the Dec. 7 attack; newspapers; base map; photographs; a letter to the people who open the capsule; and a history of the Dec. 7 attack.
3. Missing Man Formation Memorial overlooking Pearl Harbor Channel, buried Sept. 18, 1997. To be opened on the 100th anniversary of the Air Force, Sept. 18, 2041.
Air Force Band CD; 50th anniversary flag flown that day; document predicting the future of the Asia-Pacific region and its importance; various unit coins; patches; T-shirts; base newspaper; base map; photographs; a letter to people who open the capsule; base history; and the Aug. 6, 1997, edition of the Journal of American Medicine.