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Creating a time capsule

When I was in high school, my church opened a 100-year-old time capsule. I thought the contents were boring, just old newspapers and such, no gold or diamonds or human skulls. But, the people who put it together wanted to show what life was like a century before. 

Paul Hudson is the co-founder of the International Time Capsule Society. He says what you put into a capsule depends on the purpose. For example, some families like to show what their land and house were like.  

"You might relate the house to its environment, pictures of it in the snow, for example. Maybe put in a savings bond and it would be worth much more when it's to be opened," suggests Hudson. "If you want to show what daily life is like, even something like dental floss would show that you're living your life right, at least according to your dentist!"

Hudson advises against burying the time capsule because there is too much moisture in the ground which could compromise the container and artifacts. The capsule is more likely to be remembered and found later if it's stored above ground.

The container can be anything from a garbage bag to an elaborate box, but be sure to let the future generation know when to open it.

"The fundamental way is with a plaque. And one that's inspected and doesn't somehow disappear. It would say – again there's no rules – but it was closed on such a date, and then mention the retrieval date. And then, maybe some sort of script," he says. "We seal this time capsule in the hope that our family will be healthy and happy 50 years from now and this is our way of communicating to them."

Within a family, the best way to remember the capsule is with an oral tradition. Tell your kids and your grandkids about it and make it part of family folklore.

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