Time Capsule Opening Reveals Historic Tidbits from 1956

By Ali Ingersoll

Published 07/16 2014 11:47PM

Updated 07/17 2014 12:16AM

During reconstruction on Penn State dorms, crews discovered something unusual in the corner stone. It turned out to be a time capsule from 1956.

To give you a reference to the time period, gas cost $.23; Penn State in-state tuition, $252; Eric Walker was the new university president and Joe Paterno was an assistant coach.

That same year, a group of Penn Staters compiled pieces of history, put them in a lead box and placed it in the foundation of the cornerstone at Hibbs Hall. No one knew the time capsule existed until June 17th, when construction crews were working to put in the new dedication stone on the building.

"I noticed the box and realized that it was a time capsule," says Bill Kovach, the masonry who discovered the capsule.

The box, weighing around 8lbs., was stuffed with tidbits on history.

"We're really happy everything was in wonderful condition," says Conal Carr, the Director of Penn State Housing Operations.  "It really captured students at the time."

Kovach and Bill Satterfield, the project's foreman, sawed open the box then Carr began pulling out the objects inside.

Wednesday's crowd mainly consisted of students, housing employees and construction workers. They giggled when Carr pulled out a copy of the Daily Collegian with the front page headline reading "Chivalry is Dead." 

Other items inside include a student handbook, rules for the students, a Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority hat and Daughter of the American Revolution pins. 

"It was a lot of material specifically for women students because it was from 1956-57," says Jackie Esposito, Penn State University's Archivist. "In college at that point in time, the rules had to do with being in place of parenting.  There were a lot of rules about when you could date, who you could date, what times you could date.  That's actually one of the more interesting things in there."

Carr says there are plans to display some of items found inside Redifer Dining Commons. He says the capsule is a piece of the university's history, connecting all Penn Staters.

"We're here for just a finite period of time and for students, just a few years," says Carr.  "They really are part of much larger Penn State; a much more significant Penn State.  By findings like this, we're automatically able to connect with students and experiences they had in 1956."

One of the notes in capsule hinted at another one in Lyons and Haller Hall.  Those dorms have already been reconstructed and nothing was discovered. Carr says he is already thinking about where it might be hidden.

In place of this time capsule, Carr says they have created another to place in the building. It will hold things representative of today's students like a Hunger Games DVD, an iPhone and a James Franklin signed football.  He says they will put a plaque or something notifying people the time capsule is inside the hall so it is not a surprise for construction crews 60 years down the road. 

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