The Evanstonian

Blast from the past: Time capsules protect ETHS history

Sophomores+Chris+Dakich+and+Danielle+Rivera+examine+the+West+capsule.
Sophomores Chris Dakich and Danielle Rivera examine the West capsule.

Sophomores Chris Dakich and Danielle Rivera examine the West capsule.

Jonah Charlton

Jonah Charlton

Sophomores Chris Dakich and Danielle Rivera examine the West capsule.

Jonah Charlton and Meredith Herrick

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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.

About the Contributors
Jonah Charlton, Executive Editor

My name is Jonah Charlton. I’m a senior and Executive Editor for The Evanstonian. I oversee the Arts & Entertainment, Sports and Photo and Art sections. Prior to this year, I was a photographer (2015-17), Photo and Art Editor (2017-2018), Layout Editor (2017-2018) and Staff Writer (2017-2018). As a writer and photographer, I’ve covered community events such as the fate of the Harley Clarke mansion to major school events such as the boys’ basketball state semifinal game and the student led walkout against gun violence. Outside The Evanstonian, I play tennis, teach one through six year old children at Chiaravalle Montessori School and am on the Chicago International Student Film Council. While I am unsure of what my future holds, The Evanstonian has provided a space where my communication, problem-solving and critical thinking skills have flourished.

Meredith Herrick, Assistant Feature Editor

Hi, my name is Mimi. I’m the assistant features editor this year. I swim and play water polo for ETHS. During the summer, I sail and windsurf at Northwestern. I swim distance freestyle, and I usually play flat or wing during polo games. I really love the water and every water sport. I’m a junior this year, and I’m super excited to be a part of The Evanstonian again this year!

1 Comment

One Response to “Blast from the past: Time capsules protect ETHS history”

  1. ahlers kurt on August 3rd, 2018 11:59 pm

    Time capsule – Blast from the past article

    I read your comment on computer tape. As I joined the computer club start of my freshman year in 1969 I can understand your predicament. ETHS had an IBM 1401 computer at the time which was a second generation machine from late 50’s / early 60’s. When IBM announced the 3rd generation machine S/360 in 1964 they ended up with a lot of 1401’s returned for S/360 and started offering them to schools at a discount. I don’t recall ETHS computer having a tape drive in 1969 but did have one before I graduated. My guess is the tape is either from a 1401 or S/360.

    If it is a 1401, I came across this website a while ago, someone there may be able to advise.

    http://www.computerhistory.org/atchm/restoring-the-ibm-1401/

    Kurt Ahlers
    ETHS Class of 1973

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Blast from the past: Time capsules protect ETHS history