1887 time capsules found in Richmond, Virginia
History comes to the surface. Photo: @GovernorVA

Time Capsules: What is known about the findings in Virginia

Historic artifacts dating from the late 19th century have been preserved on the pedestal of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.


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There are two time capsules that were recently found and opened in Richmond, Virginia, dating from 1887. They're a pair of lead boxes that will give more details of what life was like in the late 19th century.

Last Wednesday, Dec. 22, the lid of the first capsule was lifted by Governor Ralph Northman, and on Tuesday, Dec. 28, the contents of the second also saw the light of day. It is worth noting that the specialists brought in for the task have worked with great patience, using hand tools and machinery to ensure the objects can be found in the best possible condition.

How were they found?

On Dec. 17, the pedestal supporting the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue in Richmond, was dismantled, and the boxes were found, approximately 20 feet above ground level.

You may also be interested: Robert E. Lee, the symbol of slavery that fell in Virginia

According to the information released by the excavators, the boxes, which were left there on Oct. 27, 1887, were located at the base of the pedestal in a hole at least 1.5 meters deep, near the cornerstone of the piece. 

Cápsula del tiempo hallada en Richmond Virginia

What has been found?

According to historians, about 60 items were found in the capsules that were provided by Richmond residents, most of them related to the Confederacy. All objects must be handled with caution because the packaging did not protect them from moisture.

imagen de rayos x para ver contenido de cápsula del tiempo en Richmond, Virginia

So far, this is what has been recovered:

Capsule 1

  • An almanac from 1875.
  • Two worn books.
  • A cloth envelope.
  • A coin.

Capsule 2

  • A possible photo of President Abraham Lincoln's coffin (there is only one known).
  • Newspapers, books, envelopes and letters.
  • Ammunition
  • A 10 cent silver coin dated 1883.

The teams of historians and restoration workers continue to operate with great caution to preserve as much of the items found in the capsules as possible.


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