How To Make a Time Capsule

You won't know how far you've come if you don't know where you've been, so honoring the passage of time by making a time capsule is a fun and family-oriented event.  Time capsules are weather-resistant containers filled with assorted photos and memorabilia that are buried on a specific date in order to be unearthed 5, 10 or even 50 years down the road as a historical reminder of the people, days and social trends that have gone before us.

Time capsules are great to bury on New Year's Day, to mark a birthday or anniversary, to commemorate the groundbreaking for a new building or some other significant event. Special event and party companies sell specially designed boxes to be used as time capsules. Or you can use a waterproof and fireproof file box that seals tightly shut.

You first need to decide the occasion for the capsule, who will be invited to contribute photographs and memorabilia and how long you will want to bury the capsule until it's uncovered. Make sure you document exactly where the capsule is buried so that whoever will be unearthing it in the future will be able to start digging in the right place.

Don't just throw the contents of memorabilia that you've collected in a jumble into the container. Ask every family member or person who will be contributing to the time capsule to write something about the item being contributed; make sure that any photographs that are included are clearly identified on the back. Include the front pages of daily newspapers, a favorite magazine of the day, or perhaps a CD of a hit musical performance. It's best to include black and white photographs rather than color because there is less chance of their fading over time.

The best way to preserve your time capsule contents, especially if you are burying the contents for at least 20 years, is to wrap each item individually first in acid-free paper, then place it into a plastic ziplock bag. Be careful not to include items that are perishable like food, fruit or anything edible.  Realize that items containing rubber, wool, PVC or wood may start to decay and be unrecognizable or severely damaged once the time capsule is unearthed.

It's fun to include an explanatory letter in an envelope, signed by everyone who contributed something for the contents. Be sure you place your time capsule in an area that will not be disturbed. And be sure to choose a location that will be easily accessible even if you are not personally available to attend the future unveiling.


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