Polk Helps Horizon Make History, Literally!
For students, faculty and alumni of the UW Oshkosh community, it is hard to imagine what the university will be like in 50 years.
But in the year 2062, future Titans will be given an irreplaceable glimpse into past UWO life as they are encouraged to open the Horizon Village time capsule, which was officially sealed on November 1, 2013, within the stone fireplace constructed from the rubble of the former Clemans Hall.
Polk Library played a small but important role in the creation of the contents for the capsule, which includes commemorative medallions and a picture book, as the Department of Residence Life sought advice on how to produce a unique portrayal of the university.
“This is important to us because it will give people in the future a good sense of what times were like here and what students were like,” said Director of Residence Life Tom Fojtik.
Time capsules have been a tradition at UWO for many years, as was evident when two capsules were recovered during the 2010 demolition of Nelson, Breese and Clemans Halls in preparation for the Horizon Village project. An online exhibit created by Polk Library showcases the contents of the Clemans time capsule.
To honor the memory of the three buildings and the people who made them an unforgettable part of campus for many years, as well as to capture the current image of UWO, the university consulted the library’s University Archives and Area Research Center to develop the new time capsule that will keep the tradition going. Archivist Joshua Ranger persuaded the Residence Life staff to think creatively and find materials that are not already preserved in the archives.
“In the old time capsules we really didn’t get that kind of stuff,” Fojtik said. “This will be unique and I think it will be kind of a window to the past for those people yet to open the time capsule in the future.”
Fojtik said while there may not be a lot in Horizon’s time capsule, the pieces included will help represent the current UWO better than any newspaper clippings, class schedules or trinkets that are common to so many other capsules.
Within the capsule are four medallions, three of which represent the old residencies and the people for whom they were named, including N. Peter Nelson, J.A. Breese and Earl A. Clemans. The fourth medallion honors Horizon Village and Jim Chitwood, who helped to lay the groundwork for the project.
“Just because a building came down doesn’t mean the contributions of the people they were named after should disappear, so we are trying to find a way to honor that and I think we did a pretty good job in doing that,” Fojtik said.
Also in the capsule is a booklet which showcases the spirit of the old residence halls as well as the excitement of Horizon Village through bright images and recollections of life in all of the buildings. Former residents quoted in the book give an honest look into the good and bad aspects of living in the halls to give future generations the true nature of campus through 2012.
Now, with the time capsule secured in place, we are left once again to imagine the future of the university as well as the reaction of those who will gaze upon these new historical artifacts for the first time in 50 years.
“First off they might say, ‘Is this all there is?’” Fojtik joked when thinking of the time capsule being opened 50 years from now. “And second of all I think they are going to get a real sense of not just the history of this building but the buildings before it.”