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Time capsule housed at University Archives

The University Archives at Delta State is the new home to treasures recovered from a time capsule planted by a philanthropic organization in 1937.

Archivist Emily Jones understands that preservation is a shared responsibility and shares the history of the group and the capsule.

“On Sept. 14, 1915, the philanthropic organization of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows chartered a lodge in Greenville, Mississippi.  Actually, this was the second lodge chartered in the town; the first lodge had organized in the late 1860’s or 1870’s but was compelled to surrender its charter in 1912,” said Jones. “In 1937, the Odd Fellows Washington County Lodge No. 258 proposed to dedicate a time capsule to their reincarnation.  Placing the capsule inside the cornerstone of their newly constructed building on South Poplar between Main and Center, the dedication included a grand ceremony with Mayor Milton Smith delivering the principal address.”

More history on the Independent Order of Odd Fellows can be found at http://www.ioof.org/aboutus.html.

Almost 75 years later, the Odd Fellows’ building fell into disrepair and the cornerstone was removed.  The Woodmen of the World organization had occupied office space in the building along with other organizations into the mid-1960’s.  Given their association with the building, the Woodmen were first approached by the building owner, Phil Vazzana, who offered the cornerstone to their membership.  Recognizing the significance and history of the gift, the Woodmen, in particular Travis Ferguson, Sr., organized a program to reveal the contents of the time capsule inside the cornerstone. The public was invited to attend.

With great care, Ferguson pulled the metal box from the concrete of the cornerstone and revealed the history which had been held inside for over 70 years.  Newspapers, envelopes bearing the official markings of the Odd Fellows organization and letterhead with notes of membership and leadership roles were among the treasures preserved.  The crowd was invited to view and read the materials on display, and history was returned to the community.

Ferguson wished to continue to honor the Odd Fellows and contacted the Greenville Public Library Director Kay Clanton for advice.  Clanton advised Ferguson to contact the Delta State University Archives. The time capsule treasures are now safely deposited in the Archives and Museum at Delta State for patrons and guests to explore.  From a special day in 1937 to a rainy morning in 2013, these papers have had quite the journey.

“It is with great appreciation for every person involved along the way that the Archives is able to preserve these items.  Thank you Mr. Ferguson for knowing a good home for the papers existed somewhere; thank you Mr. Vazzana for recognizing historic artifacts when you see them; thank you Mrs. Clanton for promoting the preservation capability of the Archives; and thank you Odd Fellows for thinking enough of your history to put together a capsule of your existence for future generations to enjoy.  Together, we preserve our history,” said Jones.

The University Archives and Museum is located in the Charles W. Capps, Jr. Archives and Museum Building and is open for the fall semester Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a closed lunch hour. It is also open on Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. The collections are open to faculty, staff, students, researchers, and the general public. For more information, please visit www.deltastate.edu.

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