What do people put in time capsules?

Updated February 21, 2017

Alfred Hitchcock described the value of time capsules in one brief sentence: "We seem to have a compulsion these days to bury time capsules in order to give those people living in the next century or so some idea of what we are like." Although sometimes time capsule are intended for people to open at a predetermined time in their own future, the items in a time capsule should provide a reflection of both personal and global conditions at the time.

Personal Items

Time capsules filled and stored away for some time in the future need personal connections to your life to make them meaningful. These may include small buttons, pins and other physical items to symbolise the things that are important to your life. Consider small stones from a special place, ticket stubs or small knick-knacks of sentimental value. Personal items should evoke emotions when the time capsule is opened.


Hand-written notes addressed to your children or grandchildren make a delightful addition to time capsules. Consider writing a note to yourself, sharing your thoughts, fears and dreams with your future self. Make the note meaningful by sharing memories or describing feelings about your life and your surroundings.


Photographs of the world around may seem quaint and instil deep emotions when opened in the future. Take pictures of your favourite people and places to include in the time capsule. Protect pictures with acid-free paper, and store in a moisture-proof container.

Current Events

Newspaper clippings of headline news, or images from newspapers and magazines, provide a timeline for your time capsule. Even everyday events that you take for granted may be viewed with interest by those who open the time capsule. Use images and clippings that represent the important issues facing your town, country or the world, and be sure to include the date.


A brief description of the technology you use on a daily basis gives future viewers a glimpse into your world at the time of the capsule. A description of your day, including the type of phone you used or details about your TV or audio devices, computer technology or Internet access are sure to be viewed with amusement 50 years in the future.

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About the Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.