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SERIES Identifier: HUA 900.xx

 Chest of 1900, 1899-1900


The Chest of 1900 was a time-capsule project undertaken by Harvard University to mark the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. It contains student essays, diaries kept by students, employees and faculty members, publications and photographs.


  • Creation: 1899-1900


Conditions on Use and Access

There are no restrictions on access to this material.


2.7 cubic feet (8 document boxes and 11 envelopes of photographs)

Chest of 1900 Project

The "Chest of 1900" was a project to document everyday life at Harvard for the month of March 1900.  Many project participants contributed diaries; a few contributors elected to donate photographs or to include photographs with diaries.

Acquisition Information

The Chest of 1900 was literally a wooden chest that served as a time capsule. Librarian William Coolidge Lane solicited contributions from the Harvard community, collected the contents, and placed them into the chest which was then sealed and kept in the University Archives.

Lane forgot to insert the photographs in the wooden chest in 1900, but preserved them and placed them near the chest in 1929.

Inventory update

This document last updated 2014 January 29.

Processing Information

In accordance with the time capsule's instructions, the chest remained sealed until 1960. Indeed, it was forgotten for a few decades beyond 1960. The date when it was first opened is unknown. In 1999, the impending millenial rekindled interest in time capsules and the contents of the chest were re-examined and described in detail.

The material in this collection has been removed from the wooden chest and rehoused in appropriate archival containers.


Harvard University.  "Chest of 1900" : an inventory
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository

Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.

Pusey Library
Harvard Yard
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2461