As Illinois State University works to decommission the Hamilton-Whitten and Atkin-Colby dormintories on the south end of campus, the buildings have offered up lovely parting gifts.
University archivist April Anderson is all atwitter because two time capsules have been unearthed under the almost 60 year old buildings. The first, sadly, experienced water damage. But the second capsule was fully intact and revealed some interesting elements of university life in 1961. The students who filled the time capsule included a number of items, such as a '61 yearbook. Well, most of it.
"Students will be students will be students, I don't care what century it is " April Anderson said. "This is my favorite piece of the collection, because they cut off the edge of the book to make it fit in the box! Kids, measure twice, cut once. Look, you gotta do what you gotta do to save history, and they cut the edges of the yearbook to get it in the capsule."
Other items included in the time capsule are tiny books for the spring and winter formal dances. There's also a pair of grainy black and white photos of what appears to be a Homecoming float. It depicts an elephant and has been snapped just as it rolled by the dormitories. A weekly calendar lists events students could attend. Anderson said this find is especially exciting because the ink on it still looks fresh.
The time capsule also contained a pristine copy of The Pantagraph that was put into the container the day it was buried. Anderson said that was enormously helpful in letting the archivists know when the capsule was put in the cornerstone of the building. It was in October of '61.
"The students obviously put a lot of forethought into what they were putting into the time capsule," said Anderson. "They wanted us to know what student life was like at the time."
A code of student conduct handbook was included to tell students of the future that co-eds of 1961 were expected to close their blinds at night so the boys in the dorm opposite couldn't see in, and that you had to be properly dressed in order to go to the student dining center. There were curfew rules that were strictly enforced. And panty raids were a no-no.