Blast from the past: Time capsules protect ETHS history


Jonah Charlton

Sophomores Chris Dakich and Danielle Rivera examine the West capsule.

Jonah Charlton and Meredith Herrick

During the construction of the wings of the schools (1966-1968), four time capsules were placed underneath cornerstones in each wing; it has been 50 years since they were all uncovered together.

“I was in the class of ‘69 and my classmate called me up and asked ‘Hey when are we opening the time capsules?’ I said ‘What time capsules?’” Executive Director of Alumni Relations David Futransky said.

In 1967, ETHS converted to a new layout: one building with four separate schools inside. Each of the four schools (or what today are the different wings) made their own capsule. Each school had its own student government and administration with anywhere from 1200 to 1300 students.

After consulting the schools blueprints, Futransky and the building operations team looked behind dedicated stones from 1966-68, and they found the capsules. After prying them open, they found relics from Evanston past including old copies of the Evanstonian, yearbooks, a record with the highlighted songs of the school year, letters from seniors and the school board, hand drawn posters, copies of the pilot, a computer tape, and more.

The computer tape is especially of interest to Futransky and the administration as they still are searching for a device that can read the tape. Futransky reached out to The Smithsonian, IBM and the Museum of Science and Industry to attempt to read the tape. He has yet to find the right equipment to decode it.

“We have decided to put them back in the wall, and have them there for another 50 years,” Futransky said. “We are going to add things from today so that people in the future can have an idea of what ETHS looked like 100 and 50 years ago.”

The updated capsules will include similar items that show the immense development of ETHS.  

The North Wing time capsule will be dedicated and placed back into the wall on May 21 at 6 p.m. while the other three will be updated and then inserted in the coming months.