Daily Prompt Time Capsule What would you put in this year’s time capsule to channel the essence of our current moment for future generations?
A time capsule from the 18th century was recently opened in Boston to great fanfare and excitement. It had been buried by Sam Adams and Paul Revere. The contents were:
“There were five [folded newspapers] …including copies of the Boston Bee and Boston Traveller. Then came some 23 coins, in denominations of “half-cent,” penny, quarter, dime and half-dime. Some dated to the mid-19th century, while others were from 1795; a so-called “Pine Tree Shilling” dated to 1652. In addition, the box contained a copper medal with George Washington’s image and the words “General of the American Army”; a seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and a title page from the Massachusetts Colony Records. Finally…a silver plate with fingerprints still on it, bearing an inscription dedicating the State House cornerstone on the 20th anniversary of American independence in July 1795.” (Sarah Pruitt, “Contents of Boston Time Capsule Buried by Samuel Adams and Paul Revere Unveiled”)
The engraved silver plate is thought to have been made by Paul Revere (and, hence, greatly revered, ha ha). I was very eager to learn what was inside, but was kind of disappointed when I watched the archivists open the box. The contents were boring — well, wait. I don’t know if the contents are boring or if the news reportage is boring — it doesn’t tell me what I want to know. I’d like to have learned what the newspapers said! I’d like to think about what Adams and Revere were hoping to tell the future.
I think I’d just put photographs in a time capsule, photos of every day life, printed on some kind of indestructible material. As a writer of historical fiction, that’s really what I want to know. What did they look like? How did they live? What did they believe? People in the future are certainly going to use different media than we use — it would be important to make whatever we put in the time capsule something that would be accessible to them.
Otherwise? No idea. All the earth is a time capsule. If we paid better attention, we’d see all human history all around us, but instead we think about time capsules to hold random (to the future) egocentric fragments of our fleeting lives.