Campus Life

Penn Staters celebrate the present, past at Hibbs Hall time capsule event

Conal Carr, director of housing, showed Daisy Reiter her name on a May Day brochure from the 1957 time capsule found in Hibbs Hall.  Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa -- In July, a group of construction workers made a surprise discovery: a lead time capsule encased in stone behind the original 1956 cornerstone of Hibbs Hall. 

As renovations near completion at the residence hall, the contents of a new time capsule, along with the ’50s artifacts, were displayed Oct. 11 in Redifer Commons. Items providing a glimpse into life at Penn State today, included an iPhone, a “Hunger Games” DVD, a football signed by coach James Franklin, a Schreyer Honors College scholar medal, menus from downtown State College restaurants, and copies of the Centre Daily Times and The Daily Collegian from July 16, 2014, -- the date of the original capsule’s opening. Student leaders also contributed letters.

“In the year 2014, Penn State is a magical place,” read Liana Trigg, president of the Association of Residence Hall Students (ARHS), from her letter. “The community comes together to support children fighting pediatric cancer, it helps the world develop by its groundbreaking research and it builds the future by shaping the lives of the youth. As you challenge yourself and your community to be bigger and to be better, remember that the cities and empires of today could not have been built if the people of the past had not laid the foundation.”

Other student leaders who wrote letters to future generations included Chris Schmidt, a representative from the East Halls Residence Association; Kate Taylor, ARHS national communications coordinator; Diana Zhang, secretary of the Association of Women in Computing; Kenya Crawford, resident assistant at Ally House; and Meeten Doshi, president of the Blue & White Society. Students wrote about their Penn State pride and experiences such as making lifelong friends, playing in a pep band, assuming a leadership role in student government, cheering the Nittany Lions at football games, canning for THON and enjoying the annual Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.

The older capsule, created in 1957, was opened July 16 outside Hibbs Hall, revealing a Tri Sigma sorority hat; newspapers; campus publications such as “Habitat Hints,” a housing guide for “Penn State coeds”; and other artifacts.

On Oct. 11, Daisy Reiter, a member of Penn State’s class of 1957, spoke about her recollections of student life in the 1950s.

“We were so lucky to find her,” said Conal Carr, director of Housing Operations. “In the 1957 time capsule we found a brochure from a May Day Festival. Daisy’s name was listed as the president of the Women’s Student Government Association in 1957, and she crowned the May Day Queen. With the help of the alumni association, we were able to track her down and invite her to participate in the unveiling.”

“When Conal called, I was floored,” Reiter said. “I had to apologize to him later because at first I thought he was a telemarketer.”

When Carr told her about the time capsule and invited her to participate in the ceremony, she didn’t hesitate to accept. “I enjoyed the unveiling immensely,” she said.An elementary education major, Reiter said her first-semester bill for tuition, and room and board totaled $454. Women had to live in the residence halls, and their nightly curfew was 9:15. All freshmen had to wear nametags and carry the student handbook throughout their first semester.

“They taught us the alma mater, all the cheers, all the fight songs,” she said. “We had to know where every building on campus was. During that first semester, an upperclassman could stop us at any time and ask us how to get to a certain building or to sing one of the fight songs. And I loved it. Think what that does for school spirit.”Reiter brought along the gown that she wore when she crowned the May Day Queen in 1957. “It seems crazy, but I still have it because it meant something to me,” she said. “I also brought along the blazer I bought the first week I was on campus – a white blazer with the Penn State emblem on the pocket. I enjoyed the day so much because Penn State has been part of my life forever. I love to talk about Penn State. It’s a wonderful school.”The unveiling celebration ended with the new time capsule placed in the space where the 1957 capsule was discovered. A plaque nearby will indicate the time capsule’s location and include instructions that it should be opened at the discretion of future generations.

“We’ll leave it up to the student leaders and staff in the future to decide when to open it,” Carr said. 

Last Updated November 03, 2014