A Look Inside Atlanta's 1940 Time Capsule

Have you ever wondered what future historians will think of our culture? What artifacts will be left to tell our story? Will they find our great literature, music and scientific discoveries or mounds of garbage that hint of our dependency as consumers?

In 1935, Dr. Thornwell Jacobs, a researcher who would eventually become president of Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia for three decades, decided he wasn’t taking any chances. Inspired by a frustrating lack of evidence in examining ancient cultures, he began gathering a massive inventory.

Since 1940, his time capsule has been sealed behind this door at Oglethorpe University. 

The relics include toys, consumables, clothing, records, various technology and of course ….


Over 200 works of fiction. The books rest aside 640,000 pages of micro-filmed material, which includes everything from the Bible to the full works of Shakespeare. There is also a device designed to teach English to future visitors. 

While the microfilm and typewriters are beyond outdated to us now, they were the height of technology. 

Here is Dr. Jacobs, admiring a photograph of his horde.  

According to his wishes, the time capsule should not be opened until the year 8113. 


His reasoning for the date is quite specific – at the time of the capsule’s inception, 6,177 years had passed since the first known recorded date in human history, 4241 B.C. By allowing another 6,177 years to pass, Dr. Jacobs felt that the relics would accurately describe the “mid-way point” of human history. 

Some of the oddest things included in the capsule are a copy of the Gone With the Wind screenplay, a set of artificial eyelashes, a female mannequin in a glass case and a Donald Duck stuffed animal. You can view the full inventory here

Via: Messy Nessy Chic | Oglethorpe University

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