Missing time capsule buried on Capitol Campus

Secretary of State Sam Reed, State Archivist Jerry Handfield, Director of General Administration Linda Villegas Bremer and Commissioner of Public Lands Doug Sutherland buried today a 1953 time capsule, missing for a half century, in the Flag Circle located on Washington’s Capitol Campus.

The time capsule, discovered during the Capitol renovation that followed the 2001 Nisqually Earthquake, is one of two created to commemorate Washington’s Territorial Centennial. One was buried on the grounds of Capitol Campus, the other was lost and eventually listed as one of the ten most sought after time capsules in the world by Oglethorpe University’s International Time Capsule Society.

In 2002, a cleaning crew preparing for repairs to the Capitol discovered a wooden crate hidden against a wall. The crate might have been thrown away if the work crew hadn’t noticed the hand-written words ‘time capsule’ on its side.

“This valuable piece of Washington State History will now be preserved — as intended — for future Washingtonians,” said Reed. “Thanks to the hard work of the Washington State Archives and General Administration we are fulfilling our obligation to the people who will live in this state fifty years from now.”

General Administration worked with the historic preservation officers, the Washington State Archives and the Washington State Historical Society to verify the missing 1953 capsule.

Both 1953 time capsules were intended to be buried until the Washington Territorial Bicentennial in 2053.

“Many of us won’t be around when these time capsules are opened in 2053. So we bury a mystery that today’s children will reveal to their children,” said Bremer.

According to state records, the capsule’s contents include newspapers, letters addressed to future Washingtonians and items from the 1953 Legislature. The exact contents of the time capsule will remain a mystery until the Washington Territorial Bicentennial.

“To ensure this time capsule isn’t lost again the records of its burial will be preserved in paper at the State Archives in Olympia, and in electronic format at the Digital Archives in Cheney,” said State Archivist Jerry Handfield.

It is estimated that more than half of all time capsules are lost or missing due to poor record keeping.