December 10, 2022

The Catholic Transcript

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Chelsea Blake slowly began work on opening the capsule around 10 a.m. (Virginia time) Image: REUTERS/Jay Paul

1877 time capsule opens in the United States; Know what was found

Virginia, USA – Analysis of a time capsule from 1877 began this Wednesday by experts in the field of historical preservation in the United States. The body was found in Virginia, last Friday, on a pedestal Robert E. Lee statue, a general who fought for the secession of the slave-owning South during the American Civil War in the nineteenth century.

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The statue is one of the largest Confederate monuments in the country. removed On December 8 after being subjected to anti-racism protests.

The container found at the site was made of corroded lead, which made the opening and analysis process precise and take several hours, as experts used various tools to remove the box.

The process of opening the box began at noon (GMT) and ended around 5:00 pm when Governor Ralph Northham lifted the lid of the capsule to reveal the items.

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Chelsea Blake, a restoration official with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, participated in the removal of the artifact and explained how the erosion of the rectangular capsule, the size of a large shoebox, affected the opening.

“It looks like the cap was put on and then the lead rolled to hold it in place, after which the water got in and corroded,” Blake said, while pressing a carbide-tipped vibrator against the capsule.

Among the artifacts in the box are an 1875 calendar, a coin, at least three books of various sizes and colors, folios, and a cloth envelope. It was difficult to identify some of the items due to their placement.

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“It’s very humid,” said Kate Ridgway, a conservative with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, as she looked at the rusty time capsule. “We try to preserve as much of this book as we can,” Ridgway said.

The time capsule was found by the team working on removing the statue, who found an area that looked “different,” according to a statement from Northham’s office, and carved out part of the granite block to reveal it.

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According to the governor’s office, records show that “37 Richmond residents, organizations, and corporations contributed approximately 60 items to the capsule, many of which are believed to be associated with the Confederacy.”

When the capsule was opened, the state was making plans to create a new time capsule to reflect the current state of Virginia.

“This memorial and its time capsule reflect Virginia in 1890, and it is time to remove them so that our public spaces better reflect who we are as a people in 2021,” the governor said. The past 18 months have seen historic changes, from pandemic to racial justice protests removing these monuments for a lost cause. It is fitting that we replace the old time capsule with a new one that tells that story.”

The state has selected 39 individuals to add artifacts to the 2021 time capsule, which is expected to include nods to the 2020 racial justice protests, as well as items, including face masks and vaccination cards, related to the pandemic.

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