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Build a Family Time Capsule

Susan Sanders-Kinzel

An inexpensive and fun family project for this year is building a Family Time Capsule. This capsule can include any items you like. The purpose is to let your future family members know about you, your times and their family history.


Because this is the turn of the Millennium*, there are many things going on that in 100 years will be interesting, amusing and fun for our family members to come.

Ideas of things to include:

  • Family pictures with names and birth dates, pictures of notable holidays or vacations.
  • Any known family historical or genealogical information
  • Advertising from the last century
  • A list of things that have been "hot" for this century
  • Important events in your family history, college graduations, awards, honors, newspaper articles
  • Short autobiographies of family members. Occupational information
  • A recording or video of present family members (CD-ROM would be good if possible - who knows what technology will bring. One thing about paper or material objects is that they will probably last the century)

  • Popular music, art, toys
  • What's going on right now from the view of your family

It is still fairly easy to find things back to the turn of the century. Talk to the elder members of your families to find out what was important when they were children and what they remember of their parents and grandparents.

Every era has it's important times and historical events but this time capsule is for YOUR family, so how those events affected your family personally. For example, WWI, WWII, The Great Depression, The Dust Bowl, Korean Conflict, Viet Nam, immigration to this country.

If you really don't know anything about your family history or were adopted, use your best judgment as to what you would want the family members to come to know about your family however it is structured. One of the trends of our times are families with step siblings, half siblings and foster or adopted siblings. Whatever is unique about your family will be interesting to those that will come.


Collect this information throughout the year and put it in a keepsake box or fireproof box. Make sure it is small enough that it can easily be passed on and strong enough that it can last 100 years. Put instructions on it what date it should be opened on and the family names attached to it. (All families include lots of names, maternal, paternal and adoptive, none of us know which names will be important in years to come.)

On next New Year's Eve, have a little ceremony sealing the box.

Have fun with it and let us know any ideas you have for making your Time Capsule. We'd be interested in any items to include, what kind of box or container to use. We'll include a compilation of these ideas in future issues.

About The Author: *Susan was the editor and one of the founders of the ThriftyFun. She passed away in 2008. This was one of the first articles she wrote for ThriftyFun.

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May 18, 20090 found this helpful

What a great idea. I would also include an item like a small toy from each family pet.

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May 19, 20110 found this helpful

It was sure nice to see a shot of your mom. Was she on the ferry? I miss her. Sandi/PBP

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March 9, 20160 found this helpful

Yes, she was on the ferry. :)

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