A time capsule buried in 1958 at the University of Evansville shows that while some things change as decades roll by, many others do not.
Technology at the time was primitive, sure, and economic scales were quite different. But the time capsule – unearthed from the site of demolished Hughes Residence Hall and revealed to the public on Feb. 17 – proves the UE experience involved more than going to class.
Why 1958? That’s the year Hughes Hall was built as UE’s first residential building.
Students in the 1950s, like those today, enjoyed their friendships, their activities, and rooting for Purple Aces teams.
An Air Force ROTC program was prominent on the UE campus. The time capsule contained a small Air Force model airplane, as well as a pamphlet recruiting students to the military.
With the rank of major, you could earn $16,500 per year, the pamphlet boasted.
The 1957 UE yearbook has a page showing off the then-new Clifford Memorial Library.
An Evansville Press article in the time capsule discusses the years-long trend of students from UE “dragging Main,” with a photo showing the former Strouse’s department store building on Main Street.
The time capsule has some stamps, which cost less than a nickel in the late 1950s; a Sears catalog promoting deals like a new crib for $28; and UE student-recruitment materials noting the $140 cost of a semester meal plan.
Other finds in the time capsule include a Blue Book, where students logged phone numbers and other pertinent information. It’s about the size of a smartphone, fitting comfortably in a pocket.
In 1958, UE was among 13 private colleges in Indiana. There are 29 today. The time capsule contains a progress report from the organization then known as Associated Colleges of Indiana, which today is called Independent Colleges of Indiana.
Then-UE President Melvin Hyde was on the group’s board in the late 1950s, “and now I serve on that same board,” current President Christopher Pietruszkiewicz says. “Just a few years later.”
UE athletics, as you might expect, is prominently represented in the time capsule.
It has a program from the 1958 NCAA Division II national tournament at Roberts Stadium, where the Purple Aces were semifinalists. (They won the title in 1959 and four more times before moving to Division I in 1977.)
There’s a reel of film of a Butler vs. Evansville basketball game and a program from an Indiana State vs. Evansville football game.
Several items in the time capsule are wrapped in aluminum foil that was rolled at nearby Alcoa.
Hughes Hall, at Walnut and Weinbach avenues, was the fifth building at UE. Upon opening, 126 students lived there. Its construction cost was $455,000.
The building was recently torn down, and UE’s planned wellness and recreation center is under construction at the site.
Contents of the Hughes Hall time capsule show how UE has progressed through the years, Pietruszkiewicz and others said at the recent unveiling.
“It reminds us of who we are and where we came from,” says Shane Ranschaert, Student Government Association president, “and it guides us to where we’re going.”