It is not every day you get to see a time capsule opened, getting a look back into the past, seeing what older generations thought important, but that chance will happen at East Tennessee State University when the school opens its 75th anniversary time capsule Tuesday.
Tuesday at 3 p.m. at the school’s Amphitheatre, that time capsule will be removed from inside the brick column where it has sat since Oct. 2, 1986, the day ETSU turned 75.
A new centennial time capsule will take its place, said Tim Dills, senior academic adviser and records manager in the College of Business and Technology.
“I was one of the people that carried the time capsule to the brick column at the 75th anniversary,” Dills said.
Dills was a student and member of the President’s Pride at the time. He remembered wanting to be present when the capsule was opened at the school’s 100th anniversary.
“I had hoped to be here for that,” Dills said. “Of course, at the time I didn’t imagine myself as an employee here.”
According to a list left for future time capsule planners, the 75th anniversary time capsule contains copies of old course catalogs and other campus publications, letters from the then president of the school, the alumni association, the student government association and sheet music commissioned for the school’s homecoming, among other items.
Dills thought people would be interested to actually see what people thought should be included in a time capsule 25 years ago.
“I think it’d be particularly interesting to students, because unless they’re a non-traditional student or a graduate student, they weren’t born in 1986,” Deals said.
Tuesday’s event will include musical entertainment by ETSU’s Bluegrass Band, speakers from the 75th anniversary and refreshments.
Dills remembered the encasing ceremony for the 75th anniversary time capsule being a crowded event.
“They had the marching band perform, they had a guest speaker,” Dills said. “It was quite a to-do.”
He did not remember a 50th anniversary time capsule being unveiled, so there likely was not one, or at least not one that anyone remembered.
Forgotten time capsules are apparently common, Dills said. In fact, the International Time Capsule Society registers time capsules so they will not be lost or forgotten. The ITCS estimates there are around 10,000 time capsules in the world, most of which have been lost.
“That’s one reason we decided to go with the same spot for the centennial capsule,” Deals said.
The school’s centennial celebration committee began compiling a list of items to be put in the 100-year anniversary capsule and the school’s physical plant employees constructed a box to be used for the capsule according to dimensions left by the 75th anniversary committee.
The centennial capsule will be opened in 50 years, Dills said.
Going over the list of items placed in the 75th anniversary capsule, it was noticed that most of the items were paper.
“Most of the things we now use would be electronic versions,” Dills said.
For instance, the campus no longer prints course catalogs; all that information is online.
Dills said the DVD of the school’s 99th anniversary commemoration from October 2010 will be included in the capsule, but whether people 50 years from now will be able to watch it is anyone’s guess.
“We’re hoping some how, some way, they’ll be able to play it in 2061,” Dills said.
The capsule contents won’t all be electronic; the school paper, The East Tennesseean, is still printed twice weekly and likely will be included. And people can write letters to be stored in the centennial capsule, which will be bricked up in the same column in October.
A plaque will be placed on the column explaining to readers that the centennial capsule is located within and giving instructions for it to be removed at the school’s sesquicentennial.
The public is invited to the time capsule unveiling. In case of rain, the ceremony will be held in the ballroom on the third floor of the D.P. Culp University Center.
For more information, or to request special assistance for persons with disabilities, call ETSU University Relations at 439-4317.