No DeLorean Needed: Time Capsules Revisit BSU’s Past, Welcome Its Future

A Bucky the Beaver bobblehead. A collection of student poems. A letter from President Faith C. Hensrud. A small glass jar of milkweed seeds. An ode to sustainability leaders on campus. And no one needed to reach 88 miles per hour.

On a cloudy October afternoon, about 100 campus and community members gathered on the Hobson Memorial Union lawn, where dozens of items were left for future generations to explore in Bemidji State University’s centennial time capsule.

A dedication ceremony, led by BSU President Faith C. Hensrud, Colleen Deel, assistant professor of library services, and Al Nohner, a BSU alumnus and director emeritus of its Office of News & Publications, marked the conclusion of Bemidji State’s 18-month centennial celebration.

Hensrud welcomed attendees and acknowledged the historic nature of the occasion.

“Today, we are creating an opportunity for a future generation to travel back in time to October of 2019,” she said. “For in 100 years — in the year 2119 — we expect that a future Bemidji State University students, faculty and staff will again come together with members of the Bemidji community at this very spot so they might discover what we are leaving for them today.”

The centennial time capsule includes a wide selection of items, including branded merchandise such as t-shirts, hats and note pads, a current campus map, a copy of BSU’s 2018-2023 Strategic Plan, a hockey puck, a current academic course catalog, a diploma cover given to graduates at commencement, a red pine tree core sample collected by Landscape Ecology students, and more.

“These objects have come from many sources, and whether large or small they each have a story tell,” Hensrud said. “Put them together, and we leave for future generations a glimpse into life in 2019 at Bemidji State University.”

Nohner, reflecting on his nearly 50-year association with Bemidji State as a student, employee and emerius — looked to the future with optimism.

“While on campus and for 12 years in retirement, I wrote articles for the BSU magazine,” he said. “I talked to thousands of alumni. Universally, they were excited to talk about BSU. It was evident they still had strong and positive feelings for BSU. The historical strength of our student population and the active interest of alumni are among the reasons I believe BSU will still be educating people 100 years from now.”

No DeLorean Needed: Time Capsules Revisit BSU’s Past, Welcome Its Future from Bemidji State University on Vimeo.


In closing, Hensrud thanked everyone who had contributed items to the 2019 centennial time capsule and shared her thoughts about what the citizens of Bemidji in 2119 may think of its contents.

“We can only imagine what the world will be like then, but with the pace of technology and change in our world, they are sure to puzzle over the items we found important to share 100 years prior,” she said. “And they’re going to wonder how we had iPhones and iPads and computers and still used all this paper.”

Immediately following the time capsule planting ceremony, BSU publicly unveiled the contents of a second time capsule — this one preserved by the founders of the Bemidji Normal School, which over the past 100 years has grown into Bemidji State University. The capsule was placed in the cornerstone of the normal school’s first campus building — which remains today as Deputy Hall — in a dedication ceremony on August 10, 1918. The copper time capsule and its contents are currently on display in the Ramsey Gallery of BSU’s Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex.

Opened on September 19 by Hensrud, Deel and several members of BSU’s facilities department team, the 1918 time capsule included newspapers from Bemidji, Duluth and Minneapolis, World War I war department stationary, post cards of downtown Bemidji businesses, a City of Bemidji directory, a panoramic photo of the grounds of the Bemidji Normal School and a number of other artifacts.

“While the contents of that time capsule showed us that much has changed in Bemidji over the last 100 years, the pride we feel today for our university and for the city we call home continues — as strong as it has ever been,” Hensrud said.

MN State logoBemidji State University, located amid the lakes and forests of northern Minnesota, occupies a wooded campus along the shore of Lake Bemidji. Enrolling more than 5,100 students, Bemidji State offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and eight graduate degrees encompassing arts, sciences and select professional programs. BSU is a member of the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities and has a faculty and staff of more than 550. The university’s Shared Fundamental Values include environmental stewardship, civic engagement and international and multicultural understanding. For more, visit or find us at BemidjiState on most of your favorite social media networks.