UI Conservator, Gary Frost, participated in a UI Children’s Hospital time campsule opening on October 16, 2003.

The event is reported upon in the Iowa City Gazette article below.

Items from 1918 time capsule.
Items from 1918 time capsule.

1918 TIME CAPSULE OPENED; holds newspapers, UI course catalog

By Tom Owen
The Gazette
Thursday, October 16, 2003, 11:15:12 AM

IOWA CITY — As a curious audience waited, two employees of the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine pried open a copper time capsule Wednesday afternoon.

The capsule had been placed in the cornerstone of the UI Children’s Hospital upon its construction in 1918. Since then, the building had been renamed the Steindler building, after Arthur Steindler, the first head of the UI’s orthopedic surgery department and the prime mover behind the Children’s Hospital.

UI officials later leveled the building to make way for the Medical Education and Biomedical Research Facility — the site of Wednesday’s event — and the Carver Biomedical Research Building, now under construction.

On Wednesday, the tension grew as the audience pondered what could be in the capsule. Some charming old instruments used in the hospital?

“We really don’t know what’s in there,” said Gary Frost, a paper conservator for the UI Libraries.

Then, the moment of truth.

Frost peered into the capsule. “It’s neat,” he said.

Nothing to get the heart racing, however.

The capsule contained some dusty newspapers, a bulletin of some kind and a moldy UI course catalog without a cover.

Two of the newspapers were a May 16, 1917, issue of the Daily Iowan and a May 15, 1918, issue of the Iowa City Citizen. One of the headlines referred to President Wilson telling Congress to keep its “hands off.”

“Some things never change,” a man said.

After the event, Frost said the capsule’s limited contents were not too surprising. Today, creating a time capsule is often a highly orchestrated production.

But historically, Frost said, time capsules have often been put together by construction workers who hastily decide to wrap up some items and put them in the building’s walls for posterity. They know the capsule will be untouched until someone comes along to see if the cornerstone has a time capsule.

“What is put in is almost an afterthought,” he said. “That could be the case here, too.”

That didn’t bother Thomas Steindler, the great-nephew of Arthur Steindler. Steindler, of the Washington, D.C., area, and his family had come to watch the capsule opening. The event coincided with the UI naming Dr. Joseph Buckwalter the Steindler chair of orthopedic surgery.

“I’m very excited to be here for this intersection of the past and the future,” he said. “I hope it will be an inspiration for the next 85 years to carry on what has happened until now.”