Evanston History Center time capsule creates space for remembrance, hope and living history


Daily file photo by Brian Meng

Evanston History Center. They are collecting small items that represent Evanston’s 2020 on January 26 and will likely add socially distanced submission dates in February.

Wendy Klunk, Reporter

To commemorate the tumultuous year 2020 for future generations, the Evanston History Center is recording the city’s history with a time capsule to be opened on Jan. 1, 2031.

The vision for the project, according to EHC executive director Eden Juron Pearlman, is to keep the community excited by having the time capsule on display at the Charles Gates Dawes House with a sign saying “to be opened in 2031.”

Additionally, there will be a temporary exhibit at the museum showcasing some of the quintessential artifacts that embody the 2020 experience. One of Pearlman’s favorite submissions was a Christmas ornament of Santa Claus wearing a mask.

Pearlman said the EHC hopes to involve young people in the project by advertising on social media and through local schools.

“Probably for the first time in a very long time, teens feel as if they’re really part of something,” Pearlman said. “For young people it might be kind of hard to understand that history is today, and what we do today impacts tomorrow.”

The museum has already begun receiving artifact submissions from Evanston residents and will have their next collection time from 3-5 p.m. on Jan. 26. It is free to participate, but EHC recommends a $10 donation to help cover the project cost.

For lifelong Evanston resident Kristin Brown, her capsule submission reflects the community support that allowed her to persevere through an extremely difficult year.

“My husband had a really bad case of COVID in Glenbrook Hospital for eight weeks, and then inpatient rehab for a month, and then in outpatient rehab full time for 10 weeks,” Brown said. “We almost lost him twice, but we didn’t. He completely beat the odds.”

During this scary time for her family, Brown said friends brought food, drinks, flowers and more to her front porch which she and her son came to call the “magic porch.”

Brown decided to create a cookbook with recipes for all the food that was dropped off at her house as both a remembrance of the “magic porch” days and a thank you for community support.

“It’s obviously an artifact (that’s) not just about us, but (also) about how neighbors and family all around Evanston and a little bit beyond contributed and supported us,” Brown said. “We have an amazing community and that really made all the difference.”

EHC Board Trustee Michael Sullivan, who chairs the time capsule project, said he hopes residents from a diversity of backgrounds will contribute.

“We live in history every day and if we can get a much wider diversity of the community and age groups engaged with this idea, we think it will benefit the institution and also make Evanston a richer place,” Sullivan said.

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Twitter: @WKlunk

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