Photos: Colter Peterson
An 1887 time capsule buried in Salt Lake City, Utah may be the most "well-traveled" vessel used to educate future generations about local history. On September 27, 1887, a time capsule was filled and buried by members of a Utah Protestant school dedicated to converting Mormons to their religion through education. When the school was torn down in 1959, a worker found the metal box, opened it, and turned it into the county for safe-keeping. It sat on the closet shelves of the school district office for years until it was given to the Utah State Archives and Record Services for preservation. In honor of American Archives Month, Alan Barnett, a local archivist, cracked open the time capsule this month to reveal what has been bouncing around town for 137 years.
Barnett told KSL TV that this time capsule was a message to younger generations of what life was like when the box was sealed and buried, before Utah was even a state. He says it also highlighted some of the conflict between non-Mormons and Mormons at that time. Barnett adds, "I think that's what time capsules are about. It's a way of perpetuating the memory of, what they felt, was really important work, of educating and converting Mormons."
Newspapers, a Bible, various business cards, buttons and even chewing gum was found in the Salt Lake time capsule. There's evidence that the contents of the capsule was recorded in 1959 when it was unearthed, and again in 1976 when it was in storage. The contents were never made public until now. Conservationists hope to digitize the materials so they can be viewed online.