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How do you tell a community of people in the future that you have a time capsule for them?
This challenge weighed heavily on the minds of Peter Bent Brigham Hospital’s leaders as they gathered around a thick wooden table, assembling and packing a time capsule in 1963, to be opened 50 years later during the hospital’s 100th anniversary in 2013.
On Time Capsule Tuesday, which will be celebrated May 7, 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. in Bornstein Amphitheater and broadcast via webcast, BWH’s leaders will reveal the contents of the time capsule left by our predecessors.
The time capsule was ceremonially handed over for safekeeping to J. Linzee Coolidge, the hospital’s youngest trustee, at the 50th anniversary gala dinner on May 30, 1963. It was placed in the vault at a bank in Boston, which agreed to send a letter to the hospital each year to remind us of the time capsule’s existence. This system worked well until the bank removed its vault, leaving the time capsule without a resting place and changing our predecessors’ careful plans.
The time capsule eventually found its way to the archives at Harvard Medical School’s Countway Library, but memories of its existence slowly faded as the years passed and staff retired.
In 2009, BWH archivist Catherine Pate came across a reference to the time capsule in an old letter. She combed through the archives and rediscovered the time capsule tucked away in a box, just a few years before its scheduled opening.
Join us for Time Capsule Tuesday, where the time capsule’s contents and memories from its sealing will be shared. Hospital leaders will read and reflect on letters they received from their 1963 counterparts. Were their predictions accurate? And what will today’s leaders predict for 2063? All members of the BWH community are invited to attend for as little or as long as they’d like. A reception will follow in Cabot Atrium featuring a special display of artifacts from the hospital’s past.
Learn more at BWHPikeNotes.org.