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Historic Time Capsule

January 8th, 2015

Time capsule opened this week in Boston from 1795. Photo courtesy Museum of Fine Arts Boston

In Boston, Massachusetts a time capsule that had been buried 220 years ago by two of America’s most famous historic figures … was opened this week!

It was buried in 1795 and is believed to be the oldest time capsule in the U.S.

Paul Revere and Samuel Adams buried the capsule beneath a cornerstone of the Massachusetts State House (Massachusetts’ main government building) when construction began on it in 1795.

Massachusetts State House. Photo courtesy Daderot via Creative Commons/wiki

Paul Revere and Samuel Adams played important roles in the American Revolution, working to help the United States gain independence from Britain.

Paul Revere is famous for his midnight horse ride warning others that British soldiers were approaching. He was also involved in the Boston Tea Party.

Samuel Adams is one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The box was buried 20 years after America’s independence.

One expert was quoted as saying the “history of Massachusetts is the history of America.”

So what was inside?

All sorts of coins dating as far back as 1652. Five newspapers from that time. An engraved plaque made specifically for the time capsule Samuel Adams’ name on it among others. There were so many items inside the little box, one of the openers described it is as being like a clown car.

Time capsule contents. Photo courtesy Museum of Fine Arts Boston

You can see the contents in the news story below (the commercial originates with the CBS video):

Why did they dig it up now? 

There was a water leak in the building near where the time capsule was buried and they were concerned it could be ruined.

It had been dug up once before in 1855 (160 years ago) and at that time some items had been added as well.

The box was actually excavated in early December, 2014, taking 7 hours just to carefully remove the 10-pound box. The contents have also been handled incredibly carefully.

At some point you’ll be able to see the contents for yourself at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts . After that, it will likely be reburied again.

It’s pretty cool that these famous first Americans were thinking about the day Americans many generations into the future would dig up their buried treasure. Perhaps it’ll be unearthed again in your great-grandkids’ time and history will repeat itself in the telling of a very similar story.

When they re-bury the time capsule, do you think they should add something from now, or leave it as it is?


For ideas on how to make your own time capsule from the BBC, click here .

To learn more about the American Revolution you can watch Liberty’s Kids . The animated episodes are on YouTube.

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