time capsule

Digging deeper into the time capsule!

It's hard to believe that it has been just over a year since we discovered the 1901 time capsule in the lion statue that sits atop the Old State House! As the anniversary of the time capsule approached, I began to think about one of my favorite items from the capsule and I was curious to learn more about it.

When I was examining the items that were found in the time capsule, I was able to organize them into four categories: materials associated with the 1901 restoration of the Old State House, materials that pertained to Boston newspapers, items representing the Grand Army of the Republic, and items that related to local and national politics.  However, there was one item that didn't fit into any of these categories - a bill for tuition and one piece of music, dated January 1, 1901 and addressed to John A. Silver.  When the news picked up the story of the time capsule last year, this seemingly random document didn't get any coverage and it wasn't included in our temporary exhibit of time capsule items.

John Silver cabinet card
John Silver was well represented in the time capsule, he was listed on a parchment scroll of city employees and he was included in a group photograph of men who worked on the restoration of the Old State House.  There were also eight cabinet cards in the time capsule, including one of Silver.  Cabinet cards were a type of portraiture where a photograph was mounted on a board, which allowed the sitter to autograph the back of the portrait.  The back of Silver's cabinet card helpfully included the following inscription "Boston, Feb 20 / 1901, John Aaron Webster Silver, Deputy Superintendent, Public Buildings, City of Boston, Builder by Trade, 36 years old last December the 28th 1900." Many of our visitors have asked if we know who was responsible for assembling the time capsule.  While we don't know the answer for sure, there are few clues that lead us to make a guess. Though many men were represented in cabinet cards and published portraits, there were only four business cards in the time capsule, two for men who worked for the Boston Herald, one for Samuel Rogers, and one for John Silver.  Samuel Rogers seemed to have also included a brief biography and a roster of his G.A.R. post in the capsule.  Due to these personal items, we guessed that he was likely one of the men who assembled the contents. The inclusion of the bill of tuition made out to John Silver, along with his business card, lead us to speculate that he was also one of the men who put together the time capsule in February 1901.  The bill for tuition is a far more personal item than anything else that was found, and it's my guess that Silver tucked this random item into the capsule while he was putting other items in as well.  Or maybe it was accident and he later scoured his desk looking for the missing bill!

Bill for tuition and one piece of music, 1901
But why is this bill for tuition important?  Besides providing a clue that John Silver was one of the men who assembled the time capsule, it made me curious to learn more about the document itself and John Silver as a person.  By looking at the bill, we can see that it is for one term, beginning on October 31 and costing $15.00, and that one piece of music cost 25 cents.  The bill is issued by A. de Andria, of 45 Hemenway Street.  I checked the 1900 Boston city directory and found a listing for Alcide T. De Andria, who had an occupation listing of music teacher.

It seems likely that this would be a tuition bill for one of Silver's children, but confirming that would require additional research.  As such, I searched the 1900 Federal Census and found a listing for a John A. W. Silver, with a birth date and occupation that matched the man I was researching.  From the census, I learned that he was born in Maine, his father was born in England and his mother was born in Pennsylvania.  His wife, Cora, was born in New Hampshire in June 1862.  John and Cora were married in 1884, and the census also confirmed what I suspected, that they had one son, Earl, born in November 1888.  As a twelve year old at the time that the tuition bill was issued, it seems very likely that the music lessons were for him to study under Alcide de Andria.

My co-worker joked that this additional information about the Silver family has made "history come alive!" and I have to agree with her.  Learning more about the men who assembled the time capsule reminds us that these were real people, who had families, went to work, supported their children's extracurricular activities, and essentially, were not all that different from Bostonians today. October is Archives Month, designated as such by the Society of American Archivists to raise awareness about the value of archives.  Celebrate by using primary sources to learn more about your own family history, or by delving deeper into a topic that interests you.  I might be slightly biased, but I believe that it's really through archival materials that we can connect to history to make it truly come alive.

By Elizabeth Roscio, Library and Archives Manager

Time Capsule Items on Display! (Part IV)

The last day to view the exhibit of items from our 1901 time capsule is this Sunday, January 31 and this post marks our last examination of the displayed artifacts! If you'd like to read about all of the other items on display, please be sure to check out the previous posts.

S.D. Rogers, courtesy of Heidi Grundhauser
A few items in the time capsule were related to the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.). The G.A.R. was a fraternal organization for Union veterans of the Civil War. When this time capsule was assembled in 1901 the Civil War was still in recent memory, having ended only 36 years prior. Many of the men who were involved in the restoration of the Old State House may have been veterans themselves, or at least had family members who served. One of these men was Samuel D. Rogers, who included the Roster for Boston Post No. 200, of which he was a member, in the time capsule. Heidi Grundhauser, a descendant of Rogers who first notified us of the possibility of the time capsule in the lion's head, has done research into his Civil War service and she was kind enough to provide us with a picture of him in his Civil War uniform.

The time capsule also included photographs and autographs of many G.A.R. officials, and we choose to display the business card and lapel pin belonging to Edward P. Preble, who served as the Assistant-Adjutant General of the Department of Massachusetts G.A.R. I have not had a chance to do much research into Preble yet, but I have found a letter that was likely written by him during his Civil War service.

Edward Preble G.A.R. lapel pin and business card (front)
(back)
One of the most striking items in the time capsule was the Grand Army Badge, made of captured cannon metal and dating to 1886. This is an official badge of the G.A.R., and includes the seal which shows a handshake between two former adversaries. The badge was wrapped in its original packaging, which listed instructions for use.

G.A.R. Badge packaging
G.A.R. Badge
I hope you have enjoyed learning more about this selection of items from the time capsule. Once the exhibit closes, the items will be moved to our archives where they will be preserved for future generations.

By Elizabeth Roscio, Library and Archives Manager

Time Capsule Items on Display! (Part III)

Moses Gulesian cabinet card
The time capsule exhibit will be up for just one more week, so now is the time to visit the Old State House to check it out! If you can't make it into Boston to see these artifacts, I hope you have enjoyed learning more about the displayed items through our blog posts. In this post, I'll showcase the displayed items that pertain to the 1901 restoration of the Old State House, which includes paraphenalia from city officials and skilled tradesmen who worked on the restoration.

In two of the earliest entries on our blog, guest author Donald J. Tellalian shared some of his research on Moses Gulesian, who was the manufacturer of the lion and unicorn statues that were placed on the Old State House in 1901. Back in July, we did not have an image of Gulesian to include with the blog entries, so imagine our happy surprise when we opened up the time capsule and found this well-preserved cabinet card depicting Gulesian. It was a treat to include a photograph of the man who was so important to the restoration of the lion and unicorn in the exhibit.

We also choose to display a photograph that depicts the key individuals connected to the Old State House's restoration project. The group photograph was taken on Waltham Street in Boston on February 18, 1901. When we assembled the new time capsule in November 2014, we made sure to continue this tradition by including photographs of current restoration work teams from Commodore Builders and Skylight Studios, and the Old State Restoration Project team. Also on display are the business card for John A.W. Silver, the Deputy Superintendent of Public Buildings for the City of Boston, and the business card for Samuel D. Rogers, head of S.D. Rogers and Company Carpenters and Builders. There were other personal items related to these two men in the time capsule, so we believe that it is likely that they were instrumental in assembling the contents of the time capsule.

Group photograph of 1900-1901 restoration team
S.D. Rogers and John Silver business cards











Lastly, the display includes a piece of the wooden lion statue that was removed from the Old State House in 1900. The wooden lion and unicorn statues were placed atop the Old State House in 1882, and within less than 20 years they needed to be replaced by the copper ones made by Gulesian and his team.  We do not know where the wooden statues ended up, so we feel lucky that a piece of the unicorn was included in the time capsule.

Piece of wooden lion statue, removed from the Old State House in 1901
Check back next week to learn about the last group of items on display!

By Elizabeth Roscio, Library and Archives Manager

Time Capsule Items on Display! (Part II)

Did you have a chance to visit the Old State House over the holidays and the exhibit of items from our 1901 time capsule?  It will be up through the end of January, but if you can't make it in, then please follow along on our blog to learn more about the displayed items!

Thomas Hart cabinet card
As I wrote in a previous post, the contents could be organized into four categories.  This post will focus on the items that are related to local and federal government.  There were many items that fell into this category, but we chose to exhibit some of the best preserved and most visually interesting pieces. 

W. Murray Crane cabinet card


The time capsule included a significant number of cabinet cards, which was a style of portraiture that was popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Cabinet cards were usually 4" x 6" and were a thin photograph mounted on a cardboard backing. We chose to display the cabinet cards depicting W. Murray Crane, who served as the Governor of Massachusetts from 1900-1903, and the card depicting Thomas Hart, the Mayor of Boston from 1889-1890, and then again from 1900-1902. Both of these men were in office at the time that the capsule contents were assembled in 1901.

McKinley/Roosevelt campaign button
There were also a few campaign buttons included in the time capsule. The first was a button for the William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt 1900 Presidential campaign, against William Jennings Bryan and Adlai Stevenson. McKinley was running for a second term, but this was the first time that he and Roosevelt were on the ticket together; they were victorious, though McKinley was assassinated in September 1901 and Roosevelt was sworn in as President. This campaign button is small, but the colors are so vivid that you can even make out McKinley's and Roosevelt's rosy cheeks.

Samuel L. Powers campaign button
The other two campaign buttons were for Samuel L. Powers for Congress and John D. Long for Vice-President, both from 1900 elections.  Powers was a U.S. Representative for the 11th and 12th districts of Massachusetts from March 1901 through March 1905. He was a resident of nearby Newton, Massachusetts.  Long's campaign button dates to the 1900
John D. Long campaign button
Republican National Convention, when he ran for Vice-President but lost to Theodore Roosevelt. He had previously served as Governor of Massachusetts from 1880-1883, and was also the Secretary of the Navy from 1897-1902. These men were both accomplished Bay Staters, and we are excited to have their campaign buttons as part of our collection!

I'll be posting about the other items on display in the coming weeks, please be sure to check back or sign up to follow our blog by email!

By Elizabeth Roscio, Library and Archives Manager

Time Capsule Items on Display! (Part I)

While Boston's "New" State House recently unearthed a time capsule from 1795, we at the Old State
House just began displaying some of the items that were included in the 1901 time capsule that was found in our lion statue earlier this fall.  Due to the sensitive nature of these materials, the temporary exhibit will only run through the end of January. 

The contents of the time capsule fall into four categories: Boston newspapers, Grand Army of the Republic paraphernalia, government photographs and ephemera, and artifacts associated with the Old State House restoration in 1901.  In addition to the copper capsule and the red book, I selected 17 other items from these categories to display.  In the coming weeks, I'll use our blog to provide some additional information and photographs of these items for history fans who can't make it to the Old State House to see this display in person. The first category that I'll feature is Boston newspapers.

A few years ago our library staff found a reference in the February 24, 1901 edition of the Boston Daily Globe that listed the items deposited in the time capsule to be placed in the head of the lion atop the Old State House.  Given that much of the information we knew about the contents of the time capsule prior to opening it came from this newspaper article, it was only fitting that we found a number of items pertaining to Boston newspapers in the capsule.

The items that we selected to display are the February 19, 1901 edition of the Boston Transcript, donated by Edw. G. Richardson, City Hall Representative; the Boston Herald "Herald Boy" electrotype; an envelope labeled "A Message to Posterity from the Daily Newspapers at City Hall"; and "The Outlook for the Twentieth Century," a letter written by George Litchfield, Business Manager of the Boston Traveler. I've written about the Litchfield letter and the message to posterity envelope in a previous post, but I've included some larger pictures of them below, and have also provided some additional information about the other two items on display.

When opened, this sealed envelope was discovered to be empty - perhaps a joke from journalists in 1901!

George Litchfield outlines his thoughts for the future, touching on technology, communication, and travel.

The February 19, 1901 Boston Transcript was one of five newspapers included in the time capsule, but this was the only one that was labeled and folded; given the space constraints of our display case, this made it the perfect size to include.  One of my concerns about newspapers in the time capsule was that they would be in poor condition.  Have you ever tried to save an important newspaper article, only to find out that after a few weeks it has yellowed and become brittle?  We were lucky that the time capsule was airtight and watertight, meaning that the capsule contents didn't have interaction with oxygen or moisture and thus they remained in surprisingly good condition.  Note that this newspaper is only slightly yellowed, but beyond that it is in good condition and does not look like it is 113 years old.  At this point, we don't know very much about the newspaper donor, Edw. [Edward] G. Richardson, who is listed as "City Hall Representative."  The 1900 and 1901 Boston city directories have only one entry for Edward G. Richardson, and list him as a reporter with a business address of 324 Washington Street, which was the headquarters of the Boston Transcript.  It seems likely that Richardson was one of the reporters detailed to City Hall in 1901.


Also on display is an electrotype of the Boston Herald's "Herald Boy."  There were a few items related to the Boston Herald in the time capsule, including business cards, a newspaper from February 21, 1901, and a die cut for printing of the Herald building at 255 Washington, but this electrotype was the most visually stunning.  The headline on the newspaper that the Herald Boy is holding reads, "The Boston Herald Circulation Nov. 9, 1892, 533,140."  Electrotyping was used in printing beginning in the 1830s and its usage continued until the late 1900s.  Some newspapers in the early 1900s had entire electrotyping departments.

Be sure to check back in the coming weeks to learn about the time capsule items on display!

By Elizabeth Roscio, Library and Archives Manager

A time capsule for 2114!

The new time capsule has been soldered shut and put back into the lion statue! Skylight Studios conservator Robert Shure placed the new time capsule inside the gilded scroll that forms the base of the statue (rather than the head, to make it more easily accessible in the future).

Items waiting to be placed in the time capsule.
After taking suggestions from the public, we selected over twenty items that represent Boston in 2014. The copper time capsule from 1901 was air-tight and water-tight and kept the materials inside in good condition for 113 years. John F. Shea & Co. in Mattapan, MA graciously donated the new time capsule, which is also made of copper. Each of the items in the time capsule were printed on acid-free paper or archival quality photograph paper and placed in either acid-free folders or tissue paper. We hope that these items cause excitement, and some intrigue, when the time capsule is opened by future Bostonians 100 years from now! Below is a list of all of the items that were included:

The new time capsule all packed up!
  • 2013 Boston Marathon medal and biography of donor Gregory Soutiea.
  • Letters from Boston journalists (Kiera Blessing, Boston Globe; Steve Annear, Boston Magazine; Brian Burns, Boston.com.)
  • Photograph of current Boston Mayor, Martin Walsh.
  • Photograph of former Boston Mayor, Thomas Menino.
  • Tickets from April 20, 2012 Fenway Park Centennial Boston Red Sox game, donated by Peter Loring.
  • David Ortiz limited-edition bobblehead, donated by the Boston Red Sox.
  • Apple iPhone 5, donated by Patrick LeTourneau.
  • Boston Globe newspaper, October 10, 2014, with story about discovery of 1901 time capsule.
  • Letter from British Consul Suzie Kitchens, on current United States/Great Britain relations.
  • Photograph of Governor Deval Patrick with Prime Minister of England David Cameron, at Boston Marathon Bombing Memorial, 2013.
  • Winning student essays from the 2013 Boston Duck Tour Essay contest.
  • Foreign Relations of the United States 1977-1980, Volume III, (bound in red, latest in a series represented by the 1896 volume found in the 1901 time capsule), with a letter from Davita Vance-Cooks, Public Printer of the United States, Government Printing Office.
  • Letter from Brian LeMay, Bostonian Society President and Executive Director.
  • Facsimile of a 1901 letter from George Litchfield, Business Manager of the Boston Traveler. This letter was included in the earlier time capsule that the Bostonian Society opened in October 2014.
  • Facsimile of a photograph of the team who worked on the 1901 Old State House restoration project. This photograph was included in the 1901 time capsule that the Bostonian Society recovered in 2014.
  • Photograph of the current restoration work teams – Commodore Builders and Skylight Studios.
  • Photograph of the current Old State Restoration Project team.
  • Old State House Lion & Unicorn: An Unfolding Story, an essay written by architect Donald Tellalian.
  • Box from Mike’s Pastry (with no canolis, unfortunately).
  • Letters from children participating in Greenovate Boston’s Community Summit 2014, and a Greenovate Boston button.
  • “Idahoan’s research uncovers time capsule,” facsimile of an article from Idaho Statesman, October 28, 2014.
  • Two 18th-century hand-wrought nails removed from the Old State House tower in 2008.
  • Two 19th-century cut nails removed from the tower in 2008
  • Fragment of a 1713 brick removed from Old State House during the 2014 west façade restoration project.
  • Menu from Legal Sea Foods restaurant, 2014.
  • Photographs of Boston’s central artery 2003, and Rose Kennedy Greenway, 2013 (before and after the Big Dig).
The Old State House restoration work is nearing completion. Stay tuned for updates!

By Elizabeth Roscio, Library and Archives Manager

Mystery letters: opening the sealed envelopes from the time capsule

When we opened up the time capsule earlier in October, we found five sealed letters.  Two were not labeled, one was labeled as from C.W. Ernst, Esq. Mayor's Private Secretary, one was in an envelope from the Boston Traveler, and the last one was in a thick envelope with "A Message to Posterity from the Daily Newspapers at City Hall" handwritten on the cover.  These letters caused a good deal of intrigue, but we couldn't slice into them for fear that we would accidentally damage the paper inside. 

I spent some time earlier this week slowly opening the letters using a bit of steam and a micro spatula.  The process was slow, but in the end each of the letters were removed from their envelopes with no damage.  Next came the fun part of finding out what was written and sealed 113 years ago.

S.D. Rogers and Mr. E.G. Priest
These two small sealed envelopes were packaged together along with the Fernald family history electrotype.  When opened, they were found to be beautifully handwritten letters  that provided short biographies of E.G. Priest, the clerk of the S.D. Roger & Company firm, and S.D. Rogers himself.  The S.D. Rogers Company was the firm that handled the restoration of the Old State House in 1901.



C.W. Ernst, Esq. Mayor's Private Secretary, Boston, Mass.

The letter in this sealed envelope was brief, and was written by C.W. Ernst on February 16, 1901.  Ernst was the private secretary to Mayor Thomas Hart, whose cabinet card was included in the time capsule.  The note that Ernst wrote and sealed states, "Nothing endures but wind.  The best contribution of New England to government is the town meeting."






Boston Traveler
Next, I opened an envelope from the Boston Traveler, 307 Washington Street.  Some of the ink from the letter had seeped through into the envelope, so I knew in advance that it was going to be a typewritten letter.  Opening it up, I found a two page legal-sized letter with the title "The Outlook for the Twentieth Century."  It was written by George A. Litchfield, the Business Manager of the Boston Traveler.  In the letter, he outlines his thoughts for the future, touching on technology, communication, and travel.  One of the lines that I found particularly interesting reads, "we shall fly; not merely navigate the air with cumbersome machinery sustained by bags of gas, but we shall step from our houses, an at our convenience or pleasure 'mount up on wings as eagles, run and not be weary, talk and not faint.'"

A Message to Posterity from the Daily Newspapers at City Hall
This letter was by far one of the items in the time capsule that generated the most interest.  It was listed on our inventory as being written by journalists who were detailed to City Hall, and everyone on staff was curious about what journalists felt was important enough to share with posterity.  I slowly worked to open the envelope, looked inside, and found that it was empty!  As it turns out, journalists in 1901 might have been playing a joke on future Bostonians!

Some of these letters will be included in the display of time capsule contents at the Old State House.  Stay tuned for more information about that temporary exhibit!

By Elizabeth Roscio, Library and Archives Manager

Contents of Time Capsule Revealed!

Yesterday I was excited for the opportunity to take materials out of the time capsule!  The capsule was full to the brim with documents, so the whole process of carefully removing materials took over two hours.  Each item was inventoried and photographed, and then placed in acid-free folders or boxes. The next step will be to scan the documents so that we'll have preservation copies and select items for a temporary exhibition.

The most striking thing about the contents of the time capsule was their amazing condition.  We knew that the capsule was air-tight and water-tight, so there was little worry about moisture or oxygen causing damage.  However, I was concerned about the high temperatures that the capsule would have been exposed to up in the Lion's head, as heat can speed up the chemical breakdown of paper.  However, the documents seem to be in great condition!  There was no little to no deterioration of paper quality, and some of the ink was so vivid it looked as if it had been written yesterday!

But what are the contents?  And what about that mysterious red book? 

The red book is a government publication, titled Papers relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, with the annual message of the President transmitted to Congress December 7, 1896, and the annual report of the Secretary of State. There are no inscriptions within the book, so we don't know if it holds any significance.  It's my guess, though, that it was placed on the top of the pile of documents as a space-filler.  I checked WorldCat to see if there are other copies of this book in the area, and it does look as though this is one of the few copies out there.

Letters that are sealed will need a little bit of preservation work before they are opened. Please follow along on our blog for updates, and enjoy reading the full list of time capsule contents below!
  • Foreign Relations of the United States, 1896 (hardback book)
  • Blank packing paper
  • Wood removed from the Old Lion age of same 21 years in 1900 (notation is written on a business card for American Painting & Decorating Co. and tacked onto the back of the piece of wood)
  • The Banker Tradesman – the financial, legal, real estate, and building information, vol xxix, n. 4, February 20, 1901
  • Blank piece of letterhead from M.H. Gulesian
  • Business cards for S.D. Rogers & Co (Carpenters and Builders), Mr. Edwin H. Woods (Publisher and Treasurer of the Boston Herald), G. Fred Richmond (Boston Herald), and John A. W. Silver (Deputy Superintendent of Public Buildings)
  • Boston Transcript of February 19, 1901 from Edw. G. Richardson, City Hall Representative
  • Pamphlet of the Organization of the School Committee of the City of Boston, 1901
  • Cabinet card of Mayor A.P. Martin [mayor 1884] with inscription “Yours truly”
  • Card with inscription “Geo. G. Proctor, 665 Sixth St., South Boston, Mass”
  • Parchment role of employees of public buildings department, February 1901
  • Bill for tuition and one piece of music, January 1, 1901 signed by John A. Silver
  • Sealed letter from C.W. Ernest, Esq. Mayor’s Private Secretary, Boston, Mass.
  • Letter from A.J. Rodway, describing the heraldic seal of the Lion and Unicorn
  • Sealed letter from the Boston Traveler
  • Campaign button for John D. Long, Candidate for Vice-President
  • Nail from Old South Church and nail from Old State House
  • Group photograph of individuals who worked on restoration of the Old State House, February 19, 1901
  • Sealed letter inscribed “A message to posterity from the daily newspapers at City Hall”
  • Grand Army of the Republic lapel button
  • Grand Army of the Republic badge
  • Samuel L. Powers for Congress campaign button
  • Boston Journal, photograph showing the 5th Massachusetts regiment
  • Fernald Family History, possibly on electrotype
  • Cabinet card of Moses Gulesian
  • Veterans button, possibly Grand Army of the Republic
  • McKinley and Roosevelt campaign button
  • The Boston Herald, February 21, 1901, with leaflets of advertising rates
  • Electrotype of Boston Herald, Herald Boy
  • Miniature electrotype of Boston Herald from April 11, 1900
  • Photograph of Nathan Matthews, Junior [Mayor 1891-94]
  • Photograph of Josiah Quincy [Mayor 1896-1899]
  • Six photographs of GAR officials, these images are pages cut out of a publication
  • Photograph of Edwin Curtis [Mayor 1895]
  • Cabinet card of C.G. Davis, Sergeant at Arms
  • Cabinet card of W. Murray Crane, Governor
  • Cabinet card of John B. Smith, Governor’s Secretary
  • Cabinet card of William W. Campbell, Deputy Sheriff
  • The Boston Post, February 19, 1901 and February 21, 1901
  • Cabinet card of Thomas Hart, Mayor
  • Cabinet card of Milton C. Paige, Superintendent of Public Buildings
  • Cabinet card of John A. W. Silver, Deputy Superintendent of Public Buildings
  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Department Directory, 1901
  • Die cut for printing of the Boston Herald building, 255 Washington Street
  • Letter from American Painting and Decorating Company about the work done on the Old State House, February 18, 1901
  • Boston Daily Globe, February 16, 1901 advertisement of circulation

By Elizabeth Roscio, Library and Archives Manager

All photographs by Amy Nelson, Finance and Administrative Assistant

Time Capsule Opened!

We opened the time capsule yesterday! Materials won't be removed until next week, but in the meantime, we wanted to share some behind-the-scenes photographs from yesterday's event. Amy Nelson, one of our staff members, was buzzing around the studio taking photographs, and we're thrilled to share some of them here - be sure to click on the image to see the larger version!



Watch this space for updates on the contents of the time capsule!