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The Crypt of Civilization: ” 1 set artificial finger nails, 1 set artificial eyelashes, 1 package playing cards, 1 set Bridge tally cards”

Speaking to the people of 8113 A.D., Dr. Jacobs said “The world is engaged in burying our civilization forever, and here in this crypt we leave it to you.”

THE YEAR is 8113. Spired cities built by the ancient people of the twentieth century have long since crumbled to dust. Of the airplanes and automobiles in which they traveled, not a rusted scrap remains. Their perishable tools, utensils, books, magazines, and newspapers have vanished completely. What learning they possessed is but dimly known. But where Oglethorpe University once stood, in what was Atlanta, Ga., a band of archaeologists has just unearthed a door of stainless steel. They break it open and find themselves in a treasure house of the past. Pictures and records, perfectly preserved through the ages, tell them in every detail the long-forgotten story of what life was like in 1938. Preserving Our History in a Tomb

In the basement of Phoebe Hearst Hall at Oglethorpe University in Georgia, there is a stainless steel vault door which was welded shut over eighty years ago. Behind this door lies a 20′ x 10′ waterproofed room containing a menagerie of once-modern artifacts and microfilm records, placed there by men and women in the years between 1937 and 1940. If their goal is realized, the contents of this vault will remain unseen and undisturbed for the next 6,107 years. This ambitious project, which began in the dawn of the Second World War, is known as the Crypt of Civilization; it represents the first concerted effort to collect and preserve a snapshot of human civilization and technology. Though the term had not yet been coined at its inception, it was the first modern time capsule.” —  The Crypt of Civilization 

On May 25, 1940, Jacobs and Peters sealed the crypt in a solemn ceremony that was broadcast by Atlanta’s WSB radio.  Notable figures present at the ceremony included Dr. Amos Ettinger, Dr. M. D. Collins, Mayor William B. Hartsfield, Ivan Allen, Jr., Clark Howell, Governor Eurith D. Rivers, and Postmaster General James A. Farley. The door was welded shut, and a plaque was fused to it with a Message to the Generations of 8113 from Jacobs. This Crypt contains memorials of the civilization which existed  Crypt of Civilization  

The Crypt of Civilization •   Lacking the budget for poison darts and giant stone spheres, the builders of this crypt instead used a different deterrent against would-be early intruders: Guilt. A stainless steel plaque is mounted above the crypt’s sealed entrance, begging any who encounter the crypt to leave its contents undisturbed until the year 8113.

The plaque reads:

This Crypt contains memorials of the civilization which existed in the United States and the world at large during the first half of the twentieth century. In receptacles of stainless steel, in which the air has been replaced by inert gasses, are encyclopedias, histories, scientific works, special editions of newspapers, travelogues, travel talks, cinema reels, models, phonograph records, and similar materials from which an idea of the state and nature of the civilization which existed from 1900 to 1950 can be ascertained. No jewels or precious metals are included.We depend upon the laws of the county of DeKalb, the State of Georgia, and the government of the United States and their heirs, assigns, and successors, and upon the sense of sportsmanship of posterity for the continued preservation of this vault until the year 8113, at which time we direct that it shall be opened by authorities representing the above governmental agencies and the administration of Oglethorpe University. Until that time we beg of all persons that this door and the contents of the crypt within may remain inviolate.

Inventory – Crypt of Civilization

200 books of fiction; drawings of all of our inventions made to scale such as our means of transportation, communication, etc.; a record of the sports, amusements, pastimes and games in vogue during the last century; motion pictures of historical events since 1898; still photographs giving the history of the United States since 1840; sound motion pictures of the great men and women of the world; sound records of important radio speeches, motion pictures of industrial processes; medical and surgical subjects; views of the great cities of the world; sports pastime, newsreels, and dramatic subjects; educational pictures in all subjects, an apparatus for teaching the English language in case it is no longer spoken; actual samples of objects of our daily life; scientific, navigation, and aviation instruments; projection apparatus for motion pictures; reading devices for the microfilm; artificial aids to sight; artificial arms, dentures, wigs, etc.; weights and measures current in the world today; measuring instruments; seeds of flowers, plants, vegetables, fruits, and trees; drawings and paintings; paper mache models of fruits and vegetables; artificial flowers; clothing, models of jewelry, no gold, silver, or jewels are included to tempt vandals.

  • 5 phonograph records (transcriptions)
  • 2 bird records (songs of birds)
  • 3 records in album
  • 5 records (miscellaneous)
  • General Gannett and Acompo 8 records
  • 1 transcription (Premier of Canada)
  • phonograph records in 2 boxes – History of Mines – 37 10″ records, 2 12″ records
  • 1 container of beer (about one quart)
  • 1 plastic bird, 1 plastic ash tray
  • 1 beetle plastic ornament and bowl
  • 1 vanity make-up mirror with light
  • 11 miscellaneous recordings
  • 6 recordings (Artie Shaw)
  • 6 recordings (Richard Himber)
  • 1 plastic savings bank
  • 3 plastic pieces (miscellaneous)
  • 1 plastic display case for watch
  • 1 set Lionel model train (6 cars, I track)
  • 1 cigarette holder
  • 1 model air conditioner apparatus
  • 1 box of eight plastic samples
  • 1 set of scales (hand)
  • 1 Ingraham pocket watch
  • 1 Regen’s cigarette lighter
  • 1 Ingraham wrist watch (woman’s)
  • 1 sample of gold mesh
  • 1 Gen-A-Lite flashlight
  • 1 Toastolator (electric)
  • 1 Monroe calculator
  • 1 set Lincoln Logs (toys)
  • 1 mannikin (female) in glass case
  • 1 mannikin (male) in glass case
  • 1 telephone instrument dial phone (desk type)
  • 10 samples of textile upholstery
  • 4 samples plated plastics
  • 1 3-cell flash light
  • Audio Scriptions (2 records of Dr. Jacobs’ voice)
  • 1 pencil painting
  • 1 cut and 2 illustrations from cut
  • 1 set Helios (game board and pieces)
  • 2 carved glass panels
  • 1 set Bridgeomatic (game)
  • 2 micro-film readers and 2 micro-films (Oglethorpe Book of Georgia Verse)
  • 1 obstetrical model (2 pieces)
  • 1 set graduates (sealed)
  • 1 Micarta gear
  • 1 package containing 6 miniature panties, 5 miniature shirts, 3 drawers
  • 1 sample plastic radio case
  • 2 Lennox china vases, 1 blue china bowl
  • 1 Emerson radio
  • 1 sample of aluminum foil
  • 1 sample technicolor film on display card
  • 1 abrasive wheel (Aloxite)
  • 4 skeins of rayon, 1 electric iron
  • 2 electric lighting fixtures and 2 acetate shades
  • 1 set of binoculars in leather case
  • 1 recording transcription, King Gustav of Sweden
  • 6 transcriptions “We, the People” radio show
  • 1 Kodak (small) camera
  • 1 plastic drinking glass holder
  • 1 sample of catlinite
  • 1 Schick Electric Razor (set)
  • 1 sample of Lucite
  • 1 Comptometer, Ser. no. J246635
  • 2 ashtrays, plastic forms of gears
  • 1 package Butterick dress patterns
  • 1 DuPrene glove (rubber substitute)
  • 1 set silver plate 1847 Rogers, I knife, 1 fork, 1 spoon
  • 1 copy of The New York Herald-Tribune (especially prepared copy)
  • 1 Masonic deposit (5 badges, I metal plaque in case, sealed)
  • 1 glass jar containing 2 pen holders, 3 pencils, 1 slide rule and instructions, 1 set colored crayons, 1 plastic ruler, 1 fountain pen and pencil set, 6 corks
  • 1 glass refrigerator dish and cover
  • 1 Mazda lamp exhibit (component parts)
  • 1 model Edison’s original and 1 Mazda lamp
  • 1 package assorted wearing apparel
  • 1 package samples of laces and ribbons
  • 1 pair ladies stockings
  • 1 package – 1 towel, 3 washcloths
  • 1 framed painting (roses reproduction)
  • 1 framed picture (reproduction, painting of a house)
  • 1 package containing 6 wood and plastic pictures
  • 1 rafia covered glass powder jar
  • 1 sample of soap (figure of a bull)
  • 1 package assorted hair pins
  • 1 package containing 6 pieces, assorted costume jewelry
  • 1 glass jar containing miscellaneous ornaments and 4 berets, 1 hair net, 1 clip
  • 1 glass jar containing 1 hair bow, 1 gem razor, 1 package blades, 1 shaving brush, 2 powder puffs, 2 compacts, 3 samples powder, 1 eyebrow brush, 3 lipsticks, 1 hair remover, 1 toothbrush, 1 rouge, 1 nail brush, 1 ivory stick, 1 pair manicure scissors,1 eyelash curler, 5 hair curlers, 1 package dental floss, 1 pair tweezers, 1 package Mallene, 1 package corn pads eye cup, 1 set artificial finger nails, 1 set artificial eyelashes, 1 package playing cards, 1 set Bridge tally cards
  • 1 package containing 2 combs, 1 change carrier, 1 package of paper cleaning pads, 1 identification book, 1 pair dark glasses, 1 lady’s comb, 4 pair shoe laces, 2 pair shoulder straps, 1 flashlight, 2 dice, 1 cigar holder, 1 cigarette holder
  • 1 package containing 5 spools of silk thread, 1 crochet hook, 1 thimble, 2 packages needles, 2 packages rickrack, 2 packages bias binding
  • 1 package of samples oil cloth
  • 1 lady’s breast form
  • 1 package cellophane dish covers, 3 belts, 1 package 2nd carbon copy of teletype news
  • 1 yellow china bowl, 7 “What-Not” ornaments, 1 package picture hooks, curtain rings and ends, 1 napkin and napkin ring
  • 6 packages wooden forks and spoons set toy paints, 1 tea bowl, 1 package fish hooks, 1 package drapery pins, 1 June bug spinner, 1 package curtain rings, 1 fly, 2 toy watches, 1 pocket knife
  • 2 smoking pipes, 1 bottle Vaseline
  • 1 porcelain figure, 2 small glass ornaments, glass coal scuttle
  • 1 small glass vase, 1 glass teakettle
  • 1 package paper clips, 1 package cellophane ribbon, 1 set measuring spoons, 1 doughnut cutter, 1 plastic salt and pepper shaker set, plastic picture frame, 1 set Curtain holdbacks
  • 1 toy whistle, 1 golfball, 1 cake of soap
  • 1 cover for milk bottle, 1 plastic knife, fork and spoon, 1 salad fork and spoon
  • 1 funnel, 1 barometer, 1 glass container and cover, 1 scouring pad, 1 package of marbles, 3 outlets, 1 socket plug, 1 switch, Pull chain socket, 3 house numbers, 1 rule, 1 can opener
  • 1 carving knife and fork, 1 rule, 1 screwdriver
  • 1 grapefruit corer, 1 potato masher, 1 ladle, 1 spoon, 1 pancake turner
  • 1 asbestos mat, 1 red china plate
  • 1 glass bookend (girl’s head)
  • 1 toy automobile, 1 toy stagecoach, 1 image of Buddha (incense burner)
  • 1 small china plate, 1 small china bowl, 1 glass rolling pin,
  • 1 package rayon chemicals
  • 1 piece sheet music, 1 sample of mahogany treated with bakelite varnish orange reamer and bowl, 1 glass water bottle for refrigerator, 1 package paper drinking cups
  • 1 coffee set (drip coffee maker, cream and sugar), 1 cream and sugar set, 1 flower holder, 2 Pyrex dishes, 1 covered china bowl, 5 drinking glasses, 1 wine glass
  • 1 whiskey glass jigger, 1 liquor measure (jigger and cup), 1 vase, 1 set measuring cups, 4 red glass goblets, 1 Willow ware cup and saucer, 1 pottery bowl, 1 kitchen brush, 1 toilet brush
  • 1 candlestand (candle and globe), 1 package soap and miscellaneous items (sealed)
  • 1 sales ticket register, 1 Detrola radio
  • 1 fishing rod, 1 badminton set and net
  • 1 package fly swatter, coat hanger, etc.
  • 1 assortment of cuff links, buttons, etc. (sealed), 8 packages assorted buttons
  • 5 handkerchiefs, and silk scarves
  • 1 Yankee screwdriver, 1 screwdriver and special screws
  • 12 packages Rayon-Component parts and displays, 1 watt-hour meter, 1 tube rayon thread, 1 set of 6 radio tubes
  • 1 toy pistol, 1 pinball game, 1 toy airplane
  • 1 Negro doll, 1 toy flying gyro, 1 wrecker
  • 1 toy greyhound bus, 1 tractor, 2 dolls (white), 1 1-one Ranger, 1 ambulance
  • 1 Donald Duck, 1 set toy tools, 1 toy tank, 1 pacifier, 1 bubble pipe, 1 rattle
  • 1 toy equestrian, 18 toy soldiers, 12 toy civilians, 1 toy cannon, 2 muses, 1 anti-aircraft gun, 1 set samples of better ware
  • 1 blotter, 1 inkwell (sealed)
  • 1 DuPrene sample (artificial rubber)
  • 1 sample ILICite (plastic) 1 sample textile (cotton), 1 sample of rayon cloth
  • 1 auto-point pencil, 8 Voca-films
  • 1 transcription (Roosevelt, 11 parts)
  • 1 transcription (King Edward VIII)
  • 1 package Masonite (sealed)
  • 1 denture (Lipper), 1 box samples of Micarta (sealed), 1 box samples of carpets, 1 crystalite, 10 rings
  • 5 Iconoscape television tubes
  • Spectacle frames, buckles, 8 auto handles, bottle caps, beads, 22 miscellaneous plastic samples, 9 color samples tennite, 1 sample insulation, 1 distributor head cover, 1 thermometer case
  • 1 instrument panel, 7 samples Formica
  • 14 samples Formica (set)
  • 1 set A-C spark plugs (sealed)
  • 1 plastic flute

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Hale Adams September 1, 2018, 8:40 AM

    An intriguing list. One distressing point: It’s good that the chamber was filled with inert gas, BUT the plastics of that era are notoriously unstable. Some, like the “Catalin” often used for table-top radios, are probably still in good shape. But the other plastic items? They may well be shrivelled, collapsed, and crumbling.

    Yeah, I know — we human beings tend to do the same thing, given enough time.

    “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”

    Hale Adams
    Pikesville, People’s still-mostly-Democratic Republic of Maryland

  • DrTedNelson September 1, 2018, 8:43 AM

    Why am I reading this in Slim Pickens’ voice?

  • Sam L. September 1, 2018, 9:03 AM

    Rather like “Motel of the Mysteries”.

  • Casey Klahn September 1, 2018, 9:14 AM

    That reminds me: I need to place a time capsule in the studio remodel I’m working on. It was first a garage for the farmer’s Model T Ford (my Ford Ranger, which has essentially the same frame, would fit right in there), then a green house, and soon will be an oil painting studio.

    Timelines. Mine goes like this:
    @2K BC – Abraham
    1.5 BC – Moses
    @1K BC – David
    – – Christ (@Year 1 AD, give or take about 3 years)
    476 AD – Rome collapses/ Dark Ages
    Fucking Dark Ages go until @ 1500 AD, when occur Protestantism, the Renaissance, and the Gutenberg Press.
    2,000 AD – interested parties try to obscure the central anchor of history, noted above as the time of Christ. What will they anchor their timeline upon? The birth of Marx?
    At any rate, the jury stays out on the events of our contemporary era. The Industrial Era, noted in the timeline on the post, the Space Age, started in fits and spurts, and the Information Age, which I think ought to be termed under the computer, are all critical stuff of our age.

    My 2 cents.

  • jwm September 1, 2018, 9:29 AM

    In the worst possible case, you can hear the music from an LP with a straight pin and a paper cone. So what happens to all the information written to CD? Floppy disc? Tape? We can encode huge amounts of information onto a chip, but the machines that read them are beyond the ken of those who now use them. Without the machine there in no information. A zillion years into the future?
    I envision some primitive smashing his way into some well sealed vault only to find a pile of chips, and a machine that doesn’t do anything he can understand. All of it will be lost.
    Paper and ink? The written word?
    Maybe we had information storage down better than we thought.


  • Eskyman September 1, 2018, 2:18 PM

    My grandmother used to have an Edison player which used cylinders; my Dad grew up with single-sided records played on wind-up Victrolas, and we used to have a number of those records. I’ve still got a great many 33 1/3 & 45 RPM albums in mono & stereo, mostly of Big Band, ’cause that’s what my Dad liked. I have several hundred cassette tapes, many with music that I don’t have in any other format, and a lot of CDs which I never bother playing anymore since I’ve put all that on my various computers.

    Some of my music I’ve purchased at least 5 times in various different formats, and there’s always a new format just around the corner. The 1080p videos & movies I have are now coming out in 4K or 2160p, and that won’t be the end either.

    These days it’s not easy to play audio cylinders, and I’ve often wondered what was done with all the early computer records stored on tape, punched cards or wire. In the military back in the late ’60s, we still had some wire recorders in use, and I had to maintain a lot of equipment that was built back before WWII when I served in Germany; even then it wasn’t easy to get some replacement parts.

    How much knowledge, including top secret stuff, is still stored away in some vast government warehouse where it can never be recovered, since we no longer have the players/decoders/machines to read the media on which it’s stored? A few years ago I found some of my old floppy discs: they were Amiga ADF format 880KB discs, which at one time were important to me. Now I can’t read them. No one has an Amiga these days, and PCs never could read them, so I’ll never know what is on them or if it’s still important. I’ll keep them for nostalgia, but it’d be nice to know what’s on them.

    The most useful thing in that vault might be the crayons, if humanity is still around to use them when the vault’s opened.

  • ghostsniper September 1, 2018, 2:57 PM

    “…it’d be nice to know what’s on them.”

    “Them” pictures.
    You know which ones.

  • Tom Hyland September 1, 2018, 8:59 PM

    What’s so amazing, to me, about this pile of stuff to be discovered so far in the future…. 95% of it is in my junk drawer just to the left of the kitchen sink.

  • Nunnya Bidnez, jr September 2, 2018, 6:49 AM

    Casey Klahn wrote:
    “Fucking Dark Ages go until @ 1500 AD, when occur Protestantism, the Renaissance, and the Gutenberg Press.”

    You left out Christopher Columbus and the discovery of the Americas; an equally important event.
    Much of the modern age would not have occurred absent Columbus.

  • Joel September 2, 2018, 3:30 PM

    Did they really believe “above governmental agencies and the administration of Oglethorpe University ” will be available to open the thing in 8113? Seems optimistic.

  • Schill McGuffin September 2, 2018, 8:37 PM

    Joel — No more optimistic than putting a pint of beer in there. I don’t expect that remained drinkable until the end of WWII, much less 6,000 years.

  • Casey Klahn September 3, 2018, 8:48 AM

    It’s a good point, Nunnya. Always difficult to summarize history, but I tried to keep it to sacred events, or events relating to ideas. If pushed, I’d place the Reformation above the Gut. Press for that reason.

    Yes. Columbus, and the founding of the USA, as enshrined in the Constitution. Those are event-based biggies. Another worthy timeline subject is war – perhaps the biggest change agent next to ideas.

  • Teri Pittman September 6, 2018, 12:41 PM

    It’s nice that they included a sewing machine. They should have used a treadle. Those machines will easily be working several thousand years into the future, as long as they don’t rust up too badly.

    I’ve started reusing my Palm pda. It’s nice to spend some time off the internet.