Bury that Time Capsule Idea

Time capsule of Westinghouse items being prepared for burial at the NY World's Fair in 1964. The operative word is "burial," a hint why there are better ways to display artifacts. (Photo credit: Wikimedia/Creative Commons)

Time capsules are great if you store them above ground. Preferably with the capsule opened and the contents displayed for all to see, both physically and digitally. Otherwise, as time capsule historian William Jarvis told an audience at the Long Now Foundation, “We’ve never learned anything from opening a time capsule.” I second this opinion. The first corporate history I wrote, A Wealth of History: 150 Years with Phoenix, is in a capsule buried under One American Row, Hartford, CT, in 2001. It is unlikely ever to be excavated, especially since The Phoenix Companies have since become Nassau Re.

Don’t get me wrong. Collecting and curating memory items is always useful. Such a collection enhances your brand, boosts your About Us web page and social media origin story, and memorializes your founders. It will be invaluable when those business anniversaries roll around. It helps to involve a professional archivist who can advise on what to save and how to save it. You can also consult how-tos published by the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian.

But even in the unlikely event your capsule is opened, it may end up where you least expect. Remember the last half-hour episode of M*A*S*H, the one before the final movie? The gang at the 4077th buried a time capsule with artifacts from 11 years of the hit TV program. Alas, no one informed the crew that later dug up the property. When a construction worker found the stash of props and tried to return it, series co-creator and star Alan Alda told him to keep it. True story!

Time capsule marker. There are better ways to display your curated memories! (Photo credit: Wikimedia/Creative Commons)