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Hudson Lets Time Capsule Secrets out of the Bottle

by Jerry Portwood '99 (Originally appeared in Atlanta Intown magazine in)

Paul Hudson was lurking in the basement of Hearst Hall, flashlight in hand, when he first discovered the Crypt of Civilization. The silver door shone for a moment in the restricted area of the building, and Hudson soon forgot about it after returning back to the light of the campus.

It was 1970 and Hudson was at the time a student, with no clue that this metal box tucked away on campus was one day going to figure so highly in his life. Now Registrar and Lecturer in History at Oglethorpe, Hudson has been bitten by the time capsule bug and balances his OU responsibilities with his duty as co-founder of the International Time Capsule Society (ITCS) headquartered at Oglethorpe.

"I get twelve to fifteen calls a day right now concerning inquiries into time capsules from all around the world. Today alone I was on Canadian TV and radio, was contacted by a curator at an Austrian museum, and a company in Thailand had some questions about a project," said Hudson.

Why the immense interest? Well, it's about time for the millennium, and people the world over are trying to make a permanent mark upon history, and there are no books or courses that you can take on how to make the best time capsule. There's just Paul Hudson.

A writer and historian, Hudson studied time capsule history and development because of his early interest with the concept after coming across the Crypt of Civilization located at Oglethorpe. After that shadowy beginning the New York Times has come to call Hudson "the foremost authority on time capsules."

It makes sense to have the ITCS located at OU due to the fact the Crypt of Civilization, sealed in 1936 by Oglethorpe President Thornwell Jacobs, is firmly entrenched on campus. Described by The Guinness Book of World Records as "the first successful attempt to bury a record of this culture for any future inhabitants...," the Crypt isn't to be opened until the year 8113 AD.

But Hudson hasn't just focused on the past. He is clearly excited about the high profile time capsules are receiving as we near the millennium.

Hudson has leaped from simply an expert to something of a world authority recently. In October Hudson will be speaking at the Smithsonian for their workshop "Time in a Bottle: Creating a Time Capsule Project." In November, Oglethorpe will also be the location for the premiere of Time in a Bottle, a documentary by Cathleen O'Connell for which Paul Hudson was a consultant and featured in the film as an authority on the subject of time capsules.

Hudson doesn't seem to fear a waning interest in time capsules once the millennium comes and goes. "Anyone who has ever buried treasure as a kid is interested in time capsules. They're almost as American as apple pie, and we have the granddaddy of them all right here."

The Crypt of Civilization is still located in the basement of Hearst Hall, but now flashlights aren't needed—it's right next to the university bookstore and can be viewed daily. A plaque clearly signifies the purpose of the Crypt to opened in 8113 AD. The contents of the Crypt include over 640,000 pages of micro-filmed material, a set of Lincoln logs, a Donald Duck doll, and a device to teach the English language to the Crypt's finders, as well as thousands of other items.

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