Johnson City Press Monday, October 20, 2014
Opinion

Capsule would be more interesting if it captured life

September 30th, 2011 3:48 pm by Staff Report

Officials at East Tennessee State University unearthed a bit of the university’s past this week. After reviewing the contents of the 75th anniversary time capsule, some might wonder why they even bothered.
As Press staff writer Rex Barber wrote in Thursday’s paper, the time capsule included a microfiche with the names of all 9,988 students who attended ETSU in the fall of 1986, a yearbook from the year, a 75th anniversary T-shirt and letters from the then president of the school and the alumni association. These are hardly items that were worth the wait.
It could have been much cooler, though, had those involved with the 1986 time capsule included more cultural items relating to the lives of students and faculty on the campus then and skipped many of the typical institutional artifacts that are frankly as dull today as they were 25 years ago.
Many have made the same mistake in compiling time capsules, says Willam Jarvis, a writer, librarian and time capsule historian. Jarvis, the author of “Time Capsules: A Cultural History,” says it is not uncommon for people to be disappointed by what they find buried in time capsules.
One of the reasons for that is they often contain the wrong things — like never worn 75th anniversary T-shirts instead of used items that convey what life was like all those years ago.
We hope the university can make amends for the lacking of 75th anniversary time capsule items when it buries a centennial capsule on Oct. 10.

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