Chapel Hill Time Capsule?

I found this very interesting “Chapel Hill Letter” in an issue of The Mebane Leader from May 18, 1915. The letter describes a project led by Kemp Plummer Battle to preserve a collection of “articles used in industries in avocations” in 1915 and seal them up in a “hermetically sealed box” to be opened again in 1965 and 2015. At each opening, one of Battle’s descendants would offer a prize of $50 to a student to “write a thesis on the change of the preceding semi-centennial period.”

The North Carolina Historical Society, led at the time by J. G. deRoulhac “Ransack” Hamilton, was charged with keeping the box.

So what happened to it? Does anybody know whether it was opened in 1965? And if we can succeed in tracking it down sometime in the next couple of years, are there any Battle descendants out there who would be willing to offer the $50 prize for an essay?

Here’s the full letter:

3 thoughts on “Chapel Hill Time Capsule?”

  1. Wasn’t there a time capsule connected with the Morehead Planetarium dedication in May of 1949?

    If so, what happened to that one?

  2. I finally remembered that I did know something about this!! See this description from the Southern Historical Collection:

    Collection Title: Kemp P. Battle Montgomery Ward Catalog Competition Papers, 1915, 1962-1966
    http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/b/Battle,Kemp_P.html

    Kemp Plummer Battle (1831-1919) of Chapel Hill and Raleigh, N.C., was a lawyer and president of the Chatham Railroad. He was active in state affairs during the Civil War and served as state treasurer and as University of North Carolina president, 1876-1891, and professor of history, 1891-1907. The collection includes correspondence and other papers relating to a competition established by Battle in 1915 for students at the University of North Carolina to write an essay on technological changes reflected in the Montgomery Ward catalogs of 1915, 1965, and 2015. Included are the catalogs of 1915 and 1965 (two copies); photocopies of the 1965 winning essay, Great and Important Changes: The Machine Age in North Carolina as seen by comparing Montgomery Ward & Company’s catalog of 1915 with that of 1965 by R. B. House; correspondence, 1962-1966, about arrangements for the the competition, chiefly between Battle’s grandson Kemp D. Battle of Rocky Mount, N.C., and James W. Patton, curator of the Southern Historical Collection at UNC; financial materials, 1965-1966, relating to the Kemp P. Battle 1915 Fund; a metal box in which the 1915 catalog had been preserved.

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