Time Capsule
National Millennium Time Capsule
Time Capsule The sounds of Louis Armstrong …a photograph of U.S. troops liberating a concentration camp…children's art…women's rights…the electronics revolution…the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr….transoceanic cable… broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera…fiber stronger than steel…the literary works of William Faulkner…public commitment to education… the Hawaiian State flag…landing on the Moon …our diverse heritage…a model of the Liberty Bell and the freedom it represents…

What artifacts, ideas, or accomplishments represent America at this time in history? What hopes and dreams occupy the hearts of Americans young and old? President and Mrs. Clinton wanted to give Americans one hundred years from now a time capsule to help them answer those questions. The White House Millennium Council asked former presidential and congressional medal winners from diverse fields of accomplishment, as well as students from across the country, to describe what they think represents America at the end of the 20th century and to express their hopes for the future. Over 1,300 students and medallists responded.

President and Mrs. Clinton created the White House Millennium Council in 1997 with the theme "Honor the Past-Imagine the Future." They hoped to give every American an opportunity to mark the millennium in ways that celebrate our democracy, strengthen communities, and leave lasting "gifts to the future." The items and ideas in this exhibit are just some of the contents that will be placed in the National Millennium Time Capsule as a gift from us to our heirs one hundred years from now. The full list of those who contributed and what they suggested follows below.

Fashioned in variants of steel, copper, and titanium that reflect our past, present, and future, the waving flag design of the Time Capsule evokes the dynamic nature of who we are together-states forming a nation bound by a heritage both common and diverse and a people ever on the move.

The National Millennium Time Capsule was designed to provide the most responsible, long-term storage of the papers and objects to ensure that the sights, sounds, written words, and objects in the Capsule arrive in the 22nd century in the best possible condition. Custom-made packaging protects each item and the Capsule is vented to allow the contents to benefit from the controlled environment of the National Archives and Records Administration.

The White House Millennium Council extends its grateful thanks to Pentagram Design, Inc. which created the design of this unique time capsule, the National Teacher of the Year program, the United States Department of Education, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Archives and Records Administration for exhibiting and storing the National Millennium Time Capsule.

"Think of the items, the events and the ideas of the century that you would put into a time capsule, that you think would really represent the United States and the American century: A transistor? [the sounds of] Louis Armstrong's trumpet? A piece of the Berlin Wall? Take any of these items, and it alone could tell a story of the 20th century. It was, after all, the transistor that launched the Information Age, and enabled man to walk on the moon. It was Satchmo's trumpet that heralded the rise of jazz and of American music all over the world. And it was a broken block of concrete covered in graffiti from the Berlin Wall that announced the triumph of democracy over dictatorship. These are just some of the items that will be placed, along with the scores of other objects representing the ideas and innovations that shaped the American century, into our National Millennium Time Capsule."

First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, December 31, 1999

"There is no better moment to reflect on our hopes and dreams, and the gifts we want to leave our children; no better opportunity to open a new chapter of progress and possibility for all people; no better time to join hands and build the one America of our dreams; no better time to be a truly good neighbor to the people of the world who share this smaller and smaller planet of ours. So as we honor the past, let us truly imagine the future. I hope every single one of you…will take just a little time to dream about what you want for your grandchildren and their grandchildren, and what you would like the story of the 21st century to be."

President William Jefferson Clinton, December 31, 1999

Learn more about the preservation of the items
in the National Millennium Time Capsule


National Medal Winners

The White House Millennium Council invited winners of the National Medal of the Arts, National Humanities Medal, National Medal of Science, National Medal of Technology, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Presidential Citizens Medal and Congressional Gold Medal to contribute to the National Millennium Time Capsule.

The invitation read, “You have been recognized for your contributions to the nation. Now I would like to ask you for another contribution: if you could choose just one item or idea to represent America at the end of the 20th century, and to be preserved for the future, what would it be? Or, if you have a specific prediction – or hope – for the future, what would you wish?

“You may want to suggest an artifact, an historical event or discovery. Perhaps you want to suggest an object associated with your own achievement, an event that helped define your field, or a hope you have for the future of your area of expertise.”


The White House Millennium Council invited state teachers of the year in all states and territories and the District of Columbia to include their students in contributing to the National Millennium Time Capsule.

The invitation read, “We would like to ask you and your students to do two things. First, please ask roughly 25 students to send a short statement (25 words or less) describing their hopes and dreams for the future (with his or her name and age). The statement can reflect their personal hopes, the future of our country, the world or combinations thereof. Secondly, as a class, please send or describe (on one page) one item or idea to represent America at the end of the 20th century (either present day or as a product of a past event or achievement).”

National Medal Winners (By Theme)

National Medal Winners (Alphabetically)

Student Group Submissions (By Theme)

Student Group Submissions (By State)

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