In 1881 (and again in 1921, and again in 1926), the Hobart class of 1881 sealed mementos from their college years and from subsequent reunions-letters, newspaper clippings and photographs-in a box addressed to the Class of 1981.
On Friday, Jan. 29, HWS Trustees N. Harrison “Pete” Buck ’81 and Calvin “Chip” Carver Jr. ’81 fulfilled the wishes of the class 100 years their senior by opening the time capsule.
Given to the archives in 1921, the package was buried until HWS archivist Linda Benedict recently uncovered it while inventorying items in the archives vault. The time capsule was, according to the inscription on its packaging, “to be opened by the Class of 1981. Its contents are the photos of the faculty and the members of, at the time, the graduating class of 1881 and photos 40 years after.”
The time capsule-which was opened by the Class of 1881 at their 40th and 45th Reunions to add documents-features, most prominently, a leather-bound photo album of their graduation photos, with headshots from 40 years later beside each alumnus.
“Items like this help put a very real face on the history of Hobart and William Smith,” says Benedict who has placed the time capsule on display on the lower level of the Warren Hunting Smith Library in the Rare Book Room.
Additional documents contained in the package include the Commencement program from 1921 (Hobart’s 96th Commencement, William Smith’s 10th), several pages from a 1921 issue of the Geneva Daily Times, a photograph of members of the Class of 1881 posed on the steps of Geneva Hall at their 40th Reunion in June 1921, a petition for the Hobart Centennial Campaign and letters addressed to the Class of 1981.
In one such letter, the Class of 1881 hoped that their past would grow and that subsequent classes would have “the satisfaction of even greater achievement.”
Commencement issues of The Herald (then The Hobart Herald) from 1921 and 1926 were also included in the time capsule, sporting front page headlines such as “Alumni Arrive for Commencement,” “Moving Up Day Ceremonies” and “The 1927 Echo of the Seneca – It Came Out-Honestly!”
“It is impressive to think of the Class of 1881 reaching out 100 years into the future to speak to the class of 1981,” Benedict says.