Monday, August 31, 2009

Surprise Time Capsule Found

The Des Moines Register reports on the unexpected find among the ruins of an old school being demolished.

Joel Semprini was as curious as he was shocked when the foreman of the crew tearing down the old Radcliffe school called last weekend with news that a treasure had been found in the rubble."They'd found the cornerstone of the building, and there was a copper box in it," said Semprini, superintendent of the Hubbard-Radcliffe schools. "The box was filled with things that were put there in 1915, when that school was built. Nobody had any idea it was there. I couldn't wait to get a look at what was in it."

Always a "copper box," doesn't that seem odd? What was in it was not odd; it was the usual stuff.

There were a couple of newspapers - the Aug. 15, 1915, edition of the Radcliffe Signal and the Aug. 24, 1915, edition of The Des Moines Register and Leader - photographs, two school manuals and background information on the first years of the school system. Protected against moisture, light and air for more than nine decades, it all is in perfect condition.

It turned out that the school manuals contained fabulous insights into the educational system of 100-year-ago Iowa.

The manual instructed teachers to enforce a "Morals and Manners" section.

Here is an example for first- and second-graders."Enforce habits of cleanliness, neatness and obedience. Tell simple stories to illustrate honesty, truthfulness and kindness. Require politeness to teacher and schoolmates. ... Teach pupils that politeness does not consist in any mere form of words or any set form of action, but in saying and doing things to help others because you feel kind in your heart toward them."

Here's how it applied to fifth- and sixth-graders: "Illustrate when possible by incident or story, lying, deceit, stealing, idleness, whining, care for another's property, kindness, golden rule, respect for the aged, prompt obedience, politeness, courage in doing right, titles of honor and respect. Deal oftener with moral virtues than with their contrary vices. Impress upon the pupils' minds the truth, 'Do right because it is right.' "

What's your opinion? Do you think this kind of education, which many of our grand-parents and great-grand-parents received is lacking today? Is that the problem, the lack of proper education in modern America?

Please feel free to leave a comment.


  1. "Always a "copper box," doesn't that seem odd?"

    Not when you consider: "Protected against moisture, light and air for more than nine decades, it all is in perfect condition."

    Just because they lived 100 years ago does not mean that they did not know that copper holds, or in this case, holds out water without corroding.

    Time capsules are always fascinating even when they do contain "the same old stuff". People put in these what they considered to be important and may not survive otherwise. Case in point the school manual. Yes, the lessons taught then are lost in education today. In the U.S. anyway it is always just about what is on the test, not about educating our youth.

  2. Yes, I think time capsules are fascinating too, especially like in this case when the provide such a clear view of what things were like back then.