1960's Time Capsule

1960’s Time Capsule


It is the year 2325, and upon digging a site, a team of archaeologists unearthed a time capsule from the 1960s containing five items. The following items were found in the time capsule: 1)A mini-album containing newspaper and magazine clippings 2) An eight-track music tape player 3) A copy of the National Geographic Magazine 4) Tie-Dye shirt 5)A necklace with a silver circular pendant. In this essay, the archeologist describes how these items are important in defining the 1960s era.

  1. Mini-album containing newspaper and magazine clippings

The mini-album was an A4 size booklet, dusty and somehow tattered on the covers but the contents plastered in its 8-page leaves were considerably compact. The first page was titled “news on demise of leaders of our time-the 1960s”. This was followed with clippings of different magazines and newspapers’ clippings including The New York Times, Houston Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Time Magazine, and Life Magazine.  The first double leaf had clippings of stories and pictures reporting the assassination of J.F. Kennedy. The different clipping had dates within November 23, 1963 and November 29, 1963. Upon turning to the next leaf, there were similar clippings reporting on the assassination of Malcom X in 1965, while the turning on to the next double leafs, the clippings contained the pictures and media reports on the assassination of martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. The person who compiled the album must have a collector of political items, and liked to read about stories relating to political crimes.

Nevertheless, this item in the time capsule enabled the team of archaeologist to draw that the 1960s era saw the assassination of prominent people.  J.F. Kennedy was the President of the United States from 1961 to the time he was assassinated by a gunman revealed in the clippings as Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963. There have been many conspiracy theories regarding the death of JFK, but he is still remembered as a leader who was admired and popular with his people (John F Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum, 1963). Next, Malcom X was described as an influential and a great human rights activist in the African American history (Ogbar, 2005). The slogan “Black is Beautiful” was initiated by him and it replicated in various black movements of the time. From a New York Times (1965) clipping, Malcom X was assassinated by multiple gunshots by suspected Muslim extremists while in preparation to address the Organization of Afro-American Unity. Another great civil rights activist that faced a similar demise is Martin Luther King Jr. who was assassinated in 1968. A Chicago Tribune (1968) clipping reports of his shooting at a motel’s balcony while at one of his civil rights activities. The Civil Rights Act passed in 1968 after King’s assassination was certainly his effort for people of America (Ogbar, 2005).

The era 1960s has certainly revealed the death of prominent people in history that are still remembered and studied in historical accounts today. The assassination of these people must have created a somber mood and causes a nostalgic memory at the present because these leaders seem to have been brave and stood up for the well-being of the common people. They were loved and had mass followings but their fates were sealed at the assassins’ bullets.

  1. Eight-track tape player

Another item retrieved from the time capsule is an eight-track tape player, also known as Stereo 8 of the album Abbey Road by the English rock band The Beatles. The Beatles must have left a legacy of one of the world’s greatly admired and respected band from the 1960s as it has been cited severally as major musical influence several decades later (Millard,1995). Through their creative and unique musical talent, the members of The Beatles overcame the constraints of their time and by creating revolutionary music that touched on socio-political issues of the time (Millard, 1995). Furthermore, the band, managed to successfully penetrate the U.S and global markets in British Invasion wave of music.

The eight track tape is a popular recording system that began from 1965s. It was a great success and even paved way for all kinds of innovations in portable audio. The presence of the eight track tape meant some kind of luxurious technology where instead of being limited to a few choices of a radio station, youths and hip adults could bear tapes of their favorite recording artists and listen to them at any time in any location (Millard,1995). The portability, acceptance and wider audience for the Stereo 8 saw the bloom of psychedelic, and blues music artists. Other influential artists of the time that had their music recorded in these portable devices include Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd (Millard, 1995).

As much as the Stereo 8 is an obsolete technology now, it was a significant discovery back then that Americans now demanded music while on movement and that the automobile had become an alternative venue to experience entertainment. One can only remember such an experience with nostalgia.

  1. A copy of the National Geographic Magazine

Another item uncovered from the capsule was a copy of the National Geographic Magazine of 1969, and this featured a transcript dialogue about moon landing and the astronaut. The National Geographic is a documentary featuring unique or special happenings in the historical nature of man and the environment.

The need to explore the space to seek solutions for humanity must have been intense in the 1960s, and there was talk of “putting man on the moon” for the exploration. This was dealt with by all sectors including astronomy and the political regime. Through small steps forward, man in any kind of profession was to give his pledge to participate in activities that would enable the country to move forward.

As the team read the article, there was this feeling of excitement and being surrounded by an atmosphere in the moon, and an enthusiasm to get into space. This is because of the dialogue exchange between Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, and Michael Collins that entailed the Space Race, initially initiated by JFK in 1961 (JF Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum, 1961).

  1. Tie-Dye T shirt

The fourth item uncovered from the capsule was folded tie-dye shirt.  Although tie-dye fashion dates from ages ago and had also existed in some Asian countries at an earlier period, the 1960s is the era most associated with this fashion especially because of the hippie lifestyle that was then a trend (Powe-Temperley, 2000). Tie-dye involves wrapping strings around crumpled shirts and sinking them into vats of low cost dye (Powe-Temperley, 2000).

Tie-dye was popular because it offered an easy, inexpensive, yet trendy way to dress. Tie-dye was not only adorned in individualized clothing but also advertisements and concerts for musical performances had banners adorned in various tie-dyed colors (Powe-Temperley, 2000).

Just by looking at the image of the tie-dye clothing found, the team could get an insight and feel of people, both men and women clad in their tie-dye and jamming to some music from a stereo. The period was associated with a lot of creativity, and people embraced the fact that even with a similar technique of dying clothes, one could get different color patterns and therefore be unique from another also wearing a tie-dye shirt.


  1. A necklace with a silver circular pendant

The final item pulled from the capsule was a glamorous necklace with a circular silver pendant, and was bisected vertically with a transient branch animating from both the right and left sides, depicting a dove’s footprint. In reality, the design is founded on a flag signaling the system and stands for the letters N and D, as expressed by the positions that the flags are held. This is a peace symbol, initially designed in 1958 by a professional designer and artist Gerald Holtom. Holtom was a graduate of the Royal College of Arts and member of a campaign calling for Nuclear Disarmament.

In the 1960s, this peace symbol became part of cultural iconography, and could be found in a multitude of arts including jewelry, graffiti, and other forms of art works. Although, it is many years since the existence of the peace symbol, the item can still be recognized today by various people worldwide, and from different walks of life.

The 1960s was faced with many challenges including the Vietnam War, and this called for a new awakening that involved spreading or sharing love and brotherhood. The peace concept was energetically embraced, as well as expressed by people migrating from a war torn community to a safer community with the aim of continually living in peace and unity with the rest of the world.

The imagery used in this peace symbol is so strong that even after all these years one can feel the connection with wanting a world of peace and care and concern for one another. The peace symbol also stands for freedom and release from enslaved tendencies as asserted by the authority of man. (Kolsbun & Sweeney (2008).


The 1960s era was a time of both conflicts and new beginnings. Conflicts resulted from various assassinations of prominent people and an ongoing war in Vietnam. However, through the musical re-awakening in both technology and style, new energy was reverberated. The items in the time capsule have been very helpful in helping to determine the nature of the atmosphere back then in 1960s and it could be felt as if it were a present.



John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum. (1963). November 22, 1963: Death of The        President. Retrieved February 25, 2013 fromhttp://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/JFK-in-    History/November-22-1963-Death-of-the-President.aspx?p=3.1963.
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum. (1961). Special Message to the Congress           on Urgent National Needs, May 25, 1961. Retrieved February 25, 2013 from     http://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Ready-Reference/JFK-Speeches/Special-      Message-to-the-Congress-on-Urgent-National-Needs-May-25-1961.aspx.

Kolsbun, K., & Sweeney, M. (2008). Peace: The biography of a symbol. Washington:       National Geographic Society.

Millard, A. (1995). America on Record: A History of Recorded Sound. Boston: Cambridge            University Press.

National Geographic Magazine. (1969). Man walks on another world. Retrieved February 25,       2013 from http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/1969/12/moon-landing/astronauts-text.

Ogbar, J. (2005). Black power: Radical political and African American identity. NY: JHU Press

Powe-Temperley, K. (2000). 20th Century Fashion: The 1960s, Mods and Hippies.            Milwaukee, WI: Gareth Stevens.



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