Revolutionary-Era Time Capsule Opened in Boston


Plaster-covered time capsule originally buried by Patriots Sam Adams and Paul Revere

If you had the chance to communicate with future Earthlings, but all you could give them had to be contained within a small box, what would you choose to put in it? You may be familiar with the concept of a “time capsule” (a container similar to a geocache), which Webster’s Dictionary defines as “a container holding historical records or objects representative of current culture that is deposited (as in a cornerstone) for preservation until discovery by some future age.” Historians in Boston, Massachusetts, the “cradle of the American Revolution,” have recently unearthed and opened just such a capsule. The contents of the cigar-box-sized brass container were first buried in 1795 in the cornerstone of the Massachusetts State House by then-governor Samuel Adams, famous Son of Liberty and master brewer; Paul Revere, silversmith and Midnight Rider; and William Scollay, a Bay State land developer.

Excitement surrounded the unveiling of the time capsule, even though experts had a pretty good idea already of what it would contain: silver and copper coins, a copper medal inscribed with an image of George Washington, newspapers and other documents, and a rectangular silver plate probably made and engraved by Revere. One coin dated to 1652, and the documents included a title page from the Massachusetts Colony Records. The original time capsule with a cowhide cover had previously been discovered, during emergency repairs to the capitol in 1855. At that time its contents were catalogued, and it was reburied for posterity, in a brass box measuring 5.5 x 7.5 x 1.5 inches and weighing 10 pounds.

A water leak near the cornerstone in the summer of 2014 necessitated an excavation in December. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) curator Pam Hatchfield painstakingly extracted the plaster-encased box. Weeks later, after scanning it with X-rays, museum officials opened the box and carefully removed the contents. The coins and other materials from the time capsule will be on display at the MFA for a brief period. Museum officials, in announcing that the time capsule will be reburied in the cornerstone, said they are pondering whether to include artifacts from present-day Boston/American culture. Suggestions?

Image credit: © Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

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  1. wow says:


  2. ftg says:

    wow amazing

  3. Aden says:

    I feel like makeing my own now and leaving it in a spot that my futuer great great great chlidren will find! 🙂

  4. Blirpe says:


  5. Alexandria says:

    Wow! Yah I think I should put like coins or something. So I f my future great, great, great children need money, they will open it.

  6. Alexandria says:

    They should add stuff from this time period.

  7. Awsm_Sauce says:

    this is so cool!!! I might make one for my great great great grand kids

  8. bobby says:

    wow thats cool

  9. joe says:

    it is so cool how they have dug up something from that long ago

  10. Eric says:

    this is cool

  11. Shay says:

    How cool!!

  12. Josh Brogren says:


  13. Helpful Internet Person says:

    Wait so they covered it in plaster to preserve it or something? coolios cheerios

  14. Scott says:

    Wouldn’t it be cool if people in the future could send a time capsule back in time so we could get really cool gadgets?

  15. mogs says:

    that is really cool that they found that. i kinda want to do one

  16. caden says:

    they should include modern objects when they rebury it

  17. Emily says:

    Thats so cool that they found a time capsule

  18. Jonah says:

    that is kinda pretty coolz

    • Jonah says:

      im alzo gonna do it for my greatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreatgranpeoplzes

  19. Jason says:

    I will make a timecapsule some day

  20. Larry says:

    So cool omg a metal box whats inside? Oh it’s just more metal

  21. Brendan says:


  22. james says:


  23. Grace says:

    awesome! i might make one!!:) they should totally put recent stuff in. 🙂