Smile Politely

A time capsule from the former Illini Hall contained a look at campus life in 1907

A weathered copy of the old campus newspaper The Illini.
University Library

A year ago this month, Illini Hall was torn down, making way for a brand new building that will house a data science center, as well as the Departments of Mathematics and Statistics. A renovation of Altgeld Hall is also part of the project.

A time capsule from 1907 was tucked away in the cornerstone of the building, which was once the University YMCA headquarters. When the Y celebrated their 150th anniversary last fall, they ceremoniously opened the time capsule to reveal its contents. Now, thanks to this article from the College of Arts and Sciences, we know what was inside:

  • University YMCA’s annual report for June 1907
  • University YMCA’s constitution from 1904
  • A copy of the Champaign Daily Gazette newspaper for June 10th, 1907
  • A copy of The Illini newspaper (now the Daily Illini) from June 11th, 1907
  • The University of Illinois Bulletin from April 15th, 1907

The papers had been subject to water damage, and some were moldy. They were handed over the the University Library, where head of preservation services Jennifer Hain Teper and collections care coordinator Shelby Strommer began the preservation process.

This was a cool detail from the findings:

The copy of The Illini found in the box is a rare find; it has never been digitized, according to Strommer, and it’s unclear if there is another physical copy that exists. The issue is from Tuesday, June 11, 1907. Several events are highlighted by the old headlines, such as the senior ball at the Armory.

“The Armory was a bower of evergreens, smilax, and snow-balls, the whole being softly illuminated by shaded lights,” read the story.

The University YMCA is planning to put together a new time capsule that will be opened during the 200th anniversary celebration of the Y, in 2073.

Managing Editor

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