Memorial Hall Time Capsule

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Memorial Hall Time Capsule

Originally submitted by: Erica Skuta, Drake University, December 11, 2010

Memorial Hall Time Capsule - Photo by Erica Skuta

History of Artifact

When Memorial Hall was built in 1905 a time capsule was placed in the cornerstone of the building. The time capsule was assembled by President Hill Bell and Dean Haggard on September 28, 1905. The time capsule was a small tin box filled with numerous different items that reflect on Drake's past. The time capsule remained unopened for 90 years. But in 1996 Memorial was razed and the time capsule was removed and inspected. Mark Chambers and Don Bliss removed the time capsule from the cornerstone on May 23, 1996. Don Adams, executive assistant to the president, was present at the unveiling of the time capsule and he said, "What honorable, wonderful, intelligent and educated people they were to preserve what went into this building. It was a wonderful tribute to the University." [1]

Placing the cornerstone in Memorial Hall (September 28, 1905) - "In Celebration of a Century"

The time capsule is now stored in Cowles Library and the items used to be on display in the lower level of the library. After the time capsule was recovered Adams commented on it's importance, "We have phenomenal respect for our predecessors. We were all taught a lesson from the cornerstone." [1] The items in the time capsule give a glimpse into life in the early 1900s and how life at Drake was much different than the Drake that we experience today.

Items in the Time Capsule Dean Haggard's Holy Bible
Memorial.letter.jpg A letter from B.F. Prunty (chair of the Building Committee)
Memorial.rope.jpg A piece of rope made of hemp, the rope was wrapped in a paper scroll with a handwritten note saying "A bit of rope used to plow when ground was broken for this building". Christian Newsletter and the Drake Delphic
Memorial.pennant.jpg Pennant from 1906
Memorial.handbook.jpg Student Handbook 1905-06 signed by I. Webster Baker, general secretary of the YMCA
Memorial.bookmark.jpg Colorful bookmark from the International Missionary Convention of Christian Churches held in San Francisco August 17-24 1905. Explanation on the back of the bookmark reads: "The flag which appears on the face of this badge is a representation of what is known as the 'Bear Flag' which was raised over the town of Sonoma on June 14, 1846, by a small band of Americans, after they had forcibly taken possession of the town. The flag was lowered to give place to the 'Stars and Stripes' on July 11, 1846, when it was learned that the United States had declared war against Mexico. The flower represents the Eschscholtzia or California Poppy, which has been adopted by the Legislature of California as the state flower. The marine scene is a conventional view of the world-famous Golden Gate, leading into San Francisco Bay - a harbor large enough to anchor the combined navies of the world." Drake University Bulletin: Annual Announcement of Courses 1905-06 "according to the bulletin, total costs for tuition and room and board for the year are $250. Students could find resonable living costs ranging from $2.50 to $4 a week. Tuition per semester was $19." (Hunt, 1996)
Map of Drake in 1940 - "In Celebration of a Century"
Drake Campus 2010 - Google Earth

Memorial Hall was built in 1905 as a Bible College. When the building was built the names of prominent church leaders were inscribed in plaques and placed on doors throughout the building. Memorial hall also served as the School of Education, as additional space for classes and as the center for Vocational Rehabilitation. But after 90 years the building was no longer stable enough for use and the University was unwilling to put more money into the building for the needed repairs. In 1996 the building was razed and now where Memorial Hall used to stand is an open grass area. [1]


  • [1] Hunt, A. (1996, September 3). Drake history uncovered in time capsule. The Times Delphic, p. 10.

Photos taken by Erica Skuta