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What do you know about the time capsule in the main public library in New Orleans?

Blake Pontchartrain: The New Orleans N.O. It All

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Hey Blake,

There is a time capsule in the main public library in New Orleans (219 Loyola Ave.), placed there in 1958 by the public schools of New Orleans and a club at Fortier High School. What do you know about this capsule and if there is a date it is scheduled to be opened?

Curious about Contents

Dear Curious,

  There are two time capsules buried deep beneath the New Orleans Public Library main branch. One was put there in 1996 to commemorate the library system's centennial; the one you recall marked the main branch's opening in 1958.

  According to a story in The Times-Picayune, a ceremony was held on May 4, 1958, to install the time capsule. The project was the work of the Alcee Fortier High School Key Club. The group's president, student Robert E. Hill Jr., was among the speakers at the ceremony. Also present were Mayor deLesseps "Chep" Morrison, City Councilman (and future mayor) Vic Schiro, library board Chairman Charles Smither, library supporters Phyllis Dennery and Effie Fisher, public schools superintendent Dr. James Redmond and Monsignor Henry Bezou, the superintendent of Catholic schools.

  According to library records, contents of the time capsule included copies of the local newspapers of the day (remember, there were three then: The Times-Picayune, The States and The Item), along with several national magazines, a city telephone directory, the mayor's annual report for 1956-57, a copy of the city's Home Rule Charter and the library system's annual report. Also included were microfilms of publications from 22 local schools, lists of upcoming local events for 1958, an atlas, map of New Orleans, The World Almanac and library book list.

  There is a problem, however: Nowhere in the library's archives or press accounts is there information about when the capsule is to be opened. In addition, archivists in the library's Louisiana Division and City Archives say that while photos of the ceremony show the capsule being placed into the floor somewhere at a cornerstone, there is no information about where the capsule sits within the building.

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