Not only is 2020 the beginning of a new decade, but it has dealt us a major historical event. That makes it an interesting time to assemble a family time capsule.
“I think creating a time capsule is a great way to see the relevance of history,” says Julie Peterson, public historian and exhibit developer with History Colorado. “What we do now can provide insight for future generations about how we lived, what we thought about during this crisis, and how we might have hope for the future.”
To get started, select a cardboard or plastic container—or any material that doesn’t react when temperature or humidity changes—to hold your items, says Kimberly Kronwall, the exhibits and loan registrar for History Colorado. Plan to store your time capsule in a cool, dry place; a crawl space or linen closet is best.
What to Include
Peterson suggests adding these items to your time capsule to help future historians understand what life was like during 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic:
1. Newspapers give context to the time capsule by providing a date when it was put together and what was important in the world at the time.
2. Journal entries or other writings. Future historians (or you and your family) will be interested to learn what you were thinking and feeling when you put your time capsule together.
3. Historical photographs are a window into the past. Snap photos of you and your family, your neighborhood, local businesses, anything that you feel captures the moment you’re living in now.
4. Everyday items like coins or stamps are things we all use, and that future historians will recognize.
5. Be creative! Your time capsule is all about what you want to preserve and remember. Include anything you like, but avoid messy things like liquids, or things that might degrade over time like food or organic material. Ask each family member to contribute a couple of items.
“Include a list of all of the objects you’ve put in the time capsule, with a description of what they are and why you chose to include them,” says Peterson. “This will help future historians understand why the items included were important, … and if you’re the one to open the time capsule, you’ll have something to jog your memory.”