The Oklahoma Century Chest
Letter to the Future
One of the most interesting parts of the Century Chest were the letters written for the Oklahomans of today. Take a moment to read one or two of those letters from the collection found at: http://www.okhistory.org/centurychest/listing.php?format=Letter&sort=title
Consider what these people wrote to their audiences. What were they proud of or concerned about? Did they make predictions? If so, what predictions did they make and are they accurate? What did they think was important for the people of today to hear about their lives?
Now, write your own letter to the people of the future. Be careful to think about to whom you are addressing your letter. Are they family or just the people of the future? What do you think is going to change in 100 years? What will stay the same? Why will things stay the same or change? And most of all, what is important for people to understand about your life today?
The purpose of a time capsule is to leave items that represent life in the present for people to find in the future. To build your own time capsule, first get a small shoebox and decorate it. Make sure to label it as a time capsule with your name and the date you made it so that people in the future can know from what year your items belong.
Next, draw a picture and write a description of five items that you think best represent your life today. Make sure to explain why you think these items are important. Place your finished drawings and descriptions in the box and make sure to tell someone all about it! If you don't, then how are people going to know where to look for your time capsule in 100 years?
If you want to make it a more challenging activity, try to make your time capsule out of materials that will protect your descriptions from fire, earthquake, flood, or any other damaging event. Why did you pick the materials you chose? Is your time capsule air and watertight? How can you make a box watertight if it's not? Think about how to answer these questions, plus any others you can think of, and write them down to show a parent or teacher. Maybe they could help you think of other ways to protect your important artifacts.
The Mysterious Marble
This marble was found in the Century Chest, but there is no record of space for a marble being purchased in the chest. If you remember, all the space in the chest was sold to people who wanted to place an item in the chest for $3.00 an inch. All of the records showing who bought how much space were saved as well, so we would know if someone bought space for a marble.
Now, this leaves us with a mystery. Whose marble is it? How did it get in the chest? Did other people know about the marble, or was it placed in the chest in secret? Was it lost and never really meant to be in the chest?
Help us answer these questions and more by drawing a picture that goes with a story of how the marble got in the Century Chest. Use your imagination and your detective skills to think about who likes marbles, how people use marbles, and how did that marble get in there? Don't forget to write a story to go along with your picture!
Write a Poem
In 1913 poetry was a valuable form of art and entertainment. Verses from writers such as Louise Brooks, Ina Gainer, and Alice Fuller were included in the Century Chest. It was not just adults who wrote poetry, though. Most schools at the time included poetry in their curriculum because of its aid in developing language skills as well as its artistic value. Here is a poem found in the Century Chest written by Marie Joanna Schaefer at age eight:
The Wind and Snow
Oh! how the wind does blow
To try to get the snow,
Soon the wind began to sleep
And how the snow did sweep!
Think about Marie's poem and what story she is trying to tell. Can you write your own poem about the world around you? What is similar about your poem and Marie's? What is different?
Marie Joanna Schaefer (Oklahoma Century Chest Collection, OHS).