Gail Hairston

1956 Time Capsule Found, Re-buried With 2014 Items

Published: Apr 28, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 28, 2014) — In late September 2013, an observant member of the construction team demolishing the Cooperstown residence halls spotted something unusual in a scoop of broken brick and splintered wood. He hopped off the excavator to investigate what his machine had unearthed. It was an old, rusted metal box wrapped in an equally old, cracked green oilcloth. Asked later, the workman could not say exactly where the box had been buried, although he thought it came from under the foundation or hidden within the walls of one of the Cooperstown buildings.


The mysterious box turned out to be a time capsule that had been protecting a tiny slice of University of Kentucky history for 57 years. Based on the two yellow newspapers found in the time capsule, it was buried on or about Sept. 22, 1956, by parties unknown. No record of the 1956 time capsule or who buried it, can be found in the university’s histories.


Today, university officials will bury a new time capsule, one that contains all of the 1956 items plus 2014 mementos. The burial site, not far from where the 1956 items were found, will be between Woodland Glen I and Woodland Glen II. Inscriptions on a plaque will instruct the UK Class of 2064 to open and enjoy their Wildcat roots. The community is invited to view the time capsule items at 10:30 a.m., in the Alumni Gallery at William T. Young Library.


“In 2064,” said UK President Eli Capilouto, “the campus will be dramatically transformed by those whose foresight and fortitude envisioned a robust, residential research university for Kentucky and those we touch and teach across the world. In profound ways, we will remain the Commonwealth’s indispensable institution for the next 50 years and beyond.”


The 1956 time capsule included:

·       Lexington phonebook

·       Course catalogue

·       UK phonebook

·       An admissions piece, serving a purpose similar to today’s Viewbook

·       Campus map

·       UK Bulletin

·       Class schedule

·       Student housing guide

·       The Louisville Courier-Journal, dated Sept. 22, 1956

·       The Lexington Herald, also dated Sept. 22, 1956


“Time capsules provide future generations a glimpse into an earlier time and place. For the time capsule makers of 1956 we are that generation. For the generation 50 years from now, our time capsule will allow them to hold a piece of 2014, to reflect upon the past, and perhaps most importantly, to see that the changes happening today were being made for them,” said Deirdre Scaggs, associate dean of UK Libraries’ Special Collections.


1956 was a year that Korean War veterans moved into the new Cooperstown residence halls, when female students wore calf-length “poodle” skirts with white bobby socks and saddle oxfords, when male students attended class wearing suits with broad lapels and skinny ties, when both UK basketball and UK football were played on Euclid Avenue and there was no Avenue of Champions. In 1956, the UK Medical Center, Commonwealth Stadium, Rupp Arena, Patterson Office Tower, Classroom Building, most of today's residence halls, and many other familiar campus buildings did not exist — even as blueprints.


Computers were the size of a large room, weighed tons and used vacuum tubes. Restricted to desks, walls and tabletops, telephones were large and bulky, with rotary dials; cellular service technology did not yet exist. Televisions were housed in heavy floor-standing consoles with relatively small screens; most home models were black and white as the first color broadcast took place only two years earlier, the 1954 Tournament of Roses Parade. It would be another 10 years before the first all-color television viewing season was launched, only three years before man landed on the moon for the first time.


“While our society and our university has changed many times since 1956, we have cherished a sense of transformation and momentum for the Commonwealth to fulfill the promises of our ancestors to this state and the students who attend our university,” said Penny Cox, director of Housing Project Implementation and New Strategies. 


Cox was instrumental in securing the integrity of the 57-year-old items and procuring 2014 items for the larger time capsule to be buried beneath the walkway separating Woodland Glen I and II. Instructions will be left on a ground-level plaque to open the new time capsule in 2064.


The 2014 time capsule will contain:

·       All items found in the 1956 time capsule

·       April 28, 2014, copy of the Lexington Herald Leader

·       April 28, 2014, copy of the Kentucky Kernel

·       April 28, 2014, copy of the Courier Journal

·       Letter from SGA President Roshan Palli

·       Letter from President Eli Capilouto

·       K Book

·       Campus map

·       Viewbook

·       Current budget/financial statements

·       2014 Final Four T-shirt

·       Current Master Plan

·       Banners photo

·       DanceBlue item

·       Student Center 75th Anniversary item




MEDIA CONTACT: Gail Hairston, 859-257-3302,; or Whitney Hale, 859-257-8716,

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