Copley’s 1918 Flashback

Carin Bublitz, Editor-in-chief

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After 25 years, Park University has unearthed another time capsule. This capsule was removed from the cornerstone of the Copley-Thaw building on the university’s Parkville campus in order to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the construction of the building.

On August 27, Carolyn McHenry Elwess, Park University archivist, and Timothy Westcott, Ph.D., associate professor of history and associate archivist, supervised Ryan Didier, MTS contractor, while he removed the capsule from the cornerstone.

“It’s pretty exciting, even for me. I know everyone around here is excited and the excitement is contagious,” said Didier.

When the cornerstone was removed, the copper box that contained history from 100 years ago fell into the hands of Didier. He handed it to Elwess and immediately she and everyone around her knew that something was wrong.

“What made me realize there might be something wrong with this box was when we found out it was copper,” said Sara Lemke, public history senior. “If the lid is loose then there is something wrong with it.”

After the capsule was opened their suspicions were correct. All of the artifacts inside were damaged and had been exposed to water. This resulted in a clump of papers and books that had to be carefully pulled apart and stored in plastic sleeves. “When he handed it to me I felt the lid move and basically I knew right then and there that we were going to have damage to goods because moisture could easily have seeped into it, and that’s exactly what happened,” said Elwess.

Luckily, there was an article in the Stylus from 1918 that contained a list of all of the artifacts that had been included in the time capsule.

“I think it was nice that you did have the list of things that had been included. That probably helped identify some of those remains that had pretty much spoiled,” said Nancy Carlile, 1958 Park University alumna.

Once stored, these artifacts were placed in shadow boxes and transported to Copley Quad where they were to be kept a secret until the viewing at the centennial celebration for the Copley-Thaw building.

The Centennial program took place on September 14 at 2 p.m. in the Copley Quad building on the last day of homecoming week. This was so alumni from all over the world would be able to view the contents of the time capsule.

During the program there were speeches given by Elwess, Ashlyn Weber, public history junior, and Greg Gunderson, Ph.D., Park University president.

Afterward, a reception was held with refreshments for students, alumni and faculty who wanted to stay and view the contents of the time capsule.

“This has been a real demanding project. It has been challenging, but we feel it is very well worth it, and we were glad we were able to share it at an event and we were glad so many people were interested,” said Elwess.

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