Upstate reveals contents of 48-year-old time capsule


A time capsule was placed behind a Freemason ceremonial cornerstone on the Administration Building. The time capsule was contained inside of a metal box and had to be cut open using power tools.
Photo by Erika Hollis

By Sydney Foster
The Carolinian

The University of South Carolina Upstate took a trip back in time – 48 years.

Upstate faculty, staff, students, and the Spartanburg community buried a time capsule of artifacts and memorabilia in 1969. The capsule was opened Oct. 11, to commemorate the college’s 50th anniversary. It gave Upstate a look at what daily life was like in Spartanburg.

“The campus was somebody’s family property,” Chancellor Dr. Brendan Kelly said. “I’ve had people come to me and tell me what they used to do in their childhood in the Smith Farmhouse. And now, it’s become a major university in the state of South Carolina.”

Henry Gramling gifted USC Spartanburg 27 acres and sold 22 acres in 1968, part of the family’s peach orchards and soybean farm, to create the original campus.

USC Upstate began as one building, the administration building, overfilled with students, faculty and staff with the common goal of receiving higher education.

“When we launched the experiment that was ‘the University of South Carolina Upstate’, we didn’t have a library, let alone, a library scientist that major universities refer to as an ‘archivist,’” Kelly said.

The time capsule is considered USC Upstate’s first archive. Ann Merryman, Coordinator of Archives and Special Collections, prepared the archives in the time capsule for the public viewing event.

Inside the time capsule were: the first schedule of classes in 1968, first student handbook, first yearbook, pieces of legislation from both local and state levels that documented the origin of the campus, and newspapers dated from the closing of the capsule.

In May 2018, a new time capsule will be buried at USC Upstate.

“The new time capsule that we are assembling will tell our story as we are now,” Merryman said. “Fifty years young and looking forward to a very bright future”

Merryman is taking suggestions for what to put inside the new time capsule in hopes to represent the lives of current students, faculty, and staff.

The capsule was sealed behind a stone square among the bricks into the side of the John Stockwell Administration Building in 1969. The building was later named for the university’s second president.