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An Ezra magazine virtual time capsule

time capsule illustration

Time capsule illustration: Westinghouse Electric. See larger image

Ezra Cornell left a sealed letter in a box placed in the cornerstone of Sage Hall when it was built in 1873, addressed to "the coming man and woman." The box became a time capsule, opened 125 years later in 1997 during extensive renovations to the building, and the woman who had that honor of opening and reading the founder's letter was University Archivist Elaine Engst.

University trustee Ezra Cornell '70, a descendant of the founder, was the second to read its contents: a warning about sectarian strife being the biggest threat to the then-new university. Cornell's nonsectarian ideal, Ezra Cornell wrote, was one of the most crucial freedoms to preserve, along with coeducation.

What messages would we want to leave for the men and women 150 years from now? What objects give a glimpse into our ideals, values and symbols of the Cornell experience today? We asked this question on Facebook, Twitter and around the office, and here are some of our favorite responses …

"The picture of Skorton taking a selfie."

– Jay Velez, research assistant

President David Skorton takes a selfie with students

President David Skorton takes a selfie with students. See larger image

"A schematic of an internal combustion engine and stats on our energy generation and consumption. Hopefully that will be laughable in 100 years."

– Katherine Autumn Herleman

"Memorabilia from all the Collegetown hangouts that are now gone ... Ceiling tile from The Palms, mug from Johnny's and a picture of the sign, recordings of the songs from Dunbar's jukebox …"

– Jeannine Polito Centanni '92

"The name of all babies born while their parents did grad school at Cornell."

– Ana Maria García

"A wallet with credit cards, business cards, loyalty cards, ticket stub, paper cash and coins."

– Bheemsen Athanikar, MBA '14

"A piece of dance criticism. They won't have the slightest idea what it is!"

– Marina Harss, dance writer for The New York Times and DanceTabs

"Seeds from Wee Stinky!"

– Elizabeth Crate '17

"A recipe for cronuts. And a recipe for one of those trendy bacon desserts. A pair of skinny jeans. A collection of the Kid President vlogs. Heirloom tomato seeds. Whitening toothpaste. DVD set of 'Breaking Bad.'"

bottled student tears

Bottled student tears. Image: Robric77/iStock. See larger image

– Darcy Martin Rose

"Any New York Post article so they can scoff at how primitive we were about the idea of race."

– Khalil Jannah

"A list of predictions from various people alive today about what the world will be like in 2165. They will get a good laugh. It will also give them a read on what the average person dreamed/feared the future would bring."

– Adam Palcich, Cornell staff

"Bottled tears from finals week."

– Mark Begun '15

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