Select Items to Include
Your time capsule should include items important and unique to your group. Choose items that best represent what you want future generations to know about you.
Select items that people who open the time capsule many years in the future will be able to read and understand.
Rapid technological change means that current media might not be accessible when the capsule is opened. If you wish to include items that need playback or viewing equipment, include that equipment, along with detailed instructions on how to use it and type of energy needed to run it (voltage and current requirements). Include the software as well as the hardware if needed.
- Black and white photographs – treated with gold, selenium or polysulfide toner on a fiber base.
- Photograph slides printed on a polyester base.
- Some textiles – cotton and polyester are the most stable.
- Acid-free, permanent paper (preferably cotton) of a pH of 7.0 to 8.5.
- Pencil or archival quality inks.
- Microfilm or microfiche produced to archival standards on a polyester base will last 100 years, and you can read it with only a light source and a magnifying glass, should future technology lack micrographics.
- Wood – will last, but must be sealed away from electronics due to gasses released during decomposition.
- Glass, pottery and ceramics – breakable but enduring if well-packaged.
- Freeze-dried foods – well sealed!
- Nonferrous metals – copper, brass, gold, stainless steel, also well sealed.
Items that will not last long
- Color photographs.
- Photographic slides on an acetate base.
- Some textiles – silk can deteriorate in oxygen; wool and hair contain sulfur and will corrode metals; nylon decomposes.
- Batteries – deteriorate and release harmful chemicals while doing so. Do not include batteries in any electronic equipment.
- Diazo microfilm – releases ammonia as it decays.
- Polyvinyl chloride and polyvinyl acetate – will decay even in sealed capsules.
- Rubber – releases sulfur.
- Magnetic tape (video, audio, computer) – life expectancy can be as short as 10 years due to breakdown of the binder that holds the magnetic particles on the tape.
- Pressure sensitive adhesive – e.g., scotch tape, masking tape.
- Canned food – can explode.
- Live ammunition.
Create a detailed listing of the items placed into the time capsule.
Indicate the materials from which they are made and their functions.
Include one copy of this in the time capsule and retain at least one copy for your records. Use archival paper and inks or pencil to create these lists.