People have used time capsules to remember the past for as long as we can remember. Time capsules hold memories through time, preserving meaningful memorabilia for generations to come. 

Creating a time capsule is a unique experience to share with family members and friends. Not only can they help us remember special times in our lives, but they can also serve as a way to celebrate a loved one’s memory.

Time capsules can be a tribute to our remarkable loved ones’ lives by gathering and burying meaningful items. These time capsules can be unearthed decades later, keeping your loved one’s story alive.

A time capsule can be a creative and sentimental way to remember the incredible loved ones we have lost.

What Is a Time Capsule?

A time capsule is a container filled with items that are representative of the present day. Time capsules preserve their contents for years and can be created for a variety of different audiences. They don’t need to be buried, but this often adds to the experience.

Time capsules created to remember lost loved ones are called memory capsules. These often contain sentimental items that either belonged to our loved ones or keepsakes like photographs or notes from your beloved. Memory capsules are intended for family members to open together, creating an opportunity to honor those we have lost.

The History of Time Capsules

Time capsules are often intended for future historians and archaeologists, buried for decades with items from the present day. The International Time Capsule Society keeps track of time capsules that have been buried and promotes the study of these time capsules.

Historic figures like Samuel Adams and Paul Revere left a time capsule at the Massachusetts State House in Boston that included newspapers, colony records, and coins. Soon after, magazine publisher Anna Deihm created a “century safe” of 19th-century items. 

Mayor William C. Maybury’s 1900 Detroit Century Box included letters from city officials describing the present while wondering about the future. 

In 1939 and 1985, Westinghouse Electric created the Westinghouse Time Capsules that have been buried below Flushing Meadows Park. Time capsules were also used during historical celebrations, centennials, and other events like the 1939 New York World’s Fair. 

As you can see, there is a rich history of time capsules being used to reflect on the past as we move into the future. 

What’s the Purpose of a Time Capsule?

Time capsules can also be a meaningful experience for families to remember their loved ones. As we mentioned above, time capsules can serve as a memorial keepsake for families who have lost a loved one. The experience of creating a time capsule to remember loved ones can be something that brings family members and close friends together.

Creating a time capsule with family can be a special experience to share together and celebrate a loved one’s remarkable life.

What Can We Include in a Time Capsule?

When creating a time capsule to remember a loved one, you can include items that hold sentimental value and represent your loved one’s impact and legacy. 

Time capsules might include pictures of your loved one or pictures you’ve taken with them. Notes written between you and your loved one can also be included for you to look back on fondly. We can even add other sentimental items such as their jewelry, their favorite book, or memorial ashes.

What we include in your time capsule will be different for each of us. It’s important that these time capsules represent our loved one’s singular impact and legacy. Therefore, they will be unique to that person and should contain items that were meaningful to them.

How to Make a Time Capsule To Remember Loved Ones

Time capsules are a unique and special way of remembering a loved one. When it comes to making your own time capsule project, there are a few things to consider along the way.

1. Decide Where You Will Store Your Time Capsule

Deciding where to store the time capsule is an important decision. It should be left somewhere it can stay protected throughout the years, whether that’s indoors or outdoors. Where you choose to store them will determine the container that you should use.

Storing a time capsule outdoors means that your container must be able to stand up against the elements. Time capsules that are buried should be in metal or stainless steel containers that can protect its contents from groundwater and other environmental stressors.

If you choose to store your time capsule indoors, there’s more flexibility when choosing a container. Items can be stored in a decorative box or plastic container. If you are storing your time capsule indoors, family members can decide who will hold onto the time capsule for safekeeping.

2. Choose the Contents

Choosing what to put inside your time capsule is an important decision. When creating a time capsule as a way to remember a loved one, you want its contents to be a representation of who they were. These items should hold sentimental value. 

This time capsule will be something that family members can come back to throughout their journey of loss and grief. Creating and revisiting the time capsule throughout the years can be a lovely tool along your healing journey.

Creating a time capsule for a lost loved one is a way to allow their legacy and impact to live on. Their time capsule can include things they accomplished during their lifetime, a certificate, award, or degree they earned.

Time capsules should also carry our loved one’s memory. Including items that make us think of our loved one fondly like pictures or notes are a meaningful addition to a time capsule. We can also include things they collected or items they wore frequently such as a piece of jewelry or their favorite T-shirt.

However you choose to fill your time capsule, make sure that it represents the one-of-a-kind person they were.

3. Choose Your Audience

When creating a time capsule, you’ll want to decide why you’re making it. When creating a time capsule to remember a loved one, you’ll want to consider whether you and your family members will open the time capsule or if you are creating it for generations after you to remember your loved one.

For families with young children who have lost a loved one, parents or family members may make a time capsule for children to open when they grow up. This is so that those who were too young to remember a lost loved one can have something tangible that teaches them about their beloved family member.

4. Decide On an Opening Date

After you have filled your time capsule, you’ll want to decide on an opening date. Typically, time capsules are opened several years after they are made. If you are creating your time capsule in honor of a lost loved one, then the opening date can be a type of memorial. It should be a time when close family members and friends come to open the capsule together and share stories and memories about your loved one.

Decide on an opening date together so that family members and friends can plan to come into town to open the time capsule together.

5. Store Your Container

Once you have filled your time capsule and decided on an opening date, it is time to bury or store your time capsule. The day you store or bury your time capsule can be a memorial event similar to the opening day, providing even more opportunities to honor a lost loved one. 

Storing your time capsule is a special moment to be shared with close family members and friends. It’s a time to honor your loved ones and remember their legacy and impact.

Decide how you and your family would like to spend this time. Family members and friends can share stories and memories while the time capsule is buried, or families can sing or play their loved one’s favorite songs. This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate a remarkable life.

Digital Time Capsules

Digital time capsules are another unique way to remember loved ones without needing to store or bury your time capsule. Digital time capsules can easily be stored on a computer or phone and passed on to family members and friends.

Digital time capsules are a collection of photos, text, and videos of your loved one or digital photos of physical keepsakes. There are various websites that help families put digital time capsules together, and they can be backed up onto a hard drive (or multiple hard drives) for safekeeping.

Wrapping Up

Time capsules are intentional collections of objects that are meant to be stored away and opened in the future. Time capsules are filled with meaningful memorabilia that represent the present day.

Time capsules can also be used as a way to remember our loved ones who have passed. They can serve as a type of memorial to our loved ones by filling them with memorial keepsakes such as photos of loved ones as well as some of their belongings. They can be opened by family members as a way of passing down family history and the legacy of those we’ve lost.

Time capsules are a meaningful token of remembrance and a way to honor close family members and friends that have passed, celebrating a remarkable life.


Making a Time Capsule - Resources (Preservation, Library of Congress) | Library of Congress

Time Capsules | Western Australia Museum 

Buried Treasures | Perspectives on History | AHA