Boston University Students Discover 1915 Time Capsule Hidden in Storage

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While sorting through old files at their summer job, three Boston University students discovered an exciting relic: a time capsule from 1915, which had sat forgotten in storage for 15 years, according to Boston.com.

As BU Today reports, undergrads Sarah Mankey, Emma Purtell, and Adam Mumford were tasked with sorting, recording, and re-packing hundreds of boxes filled with old university records while working for the college’s Facilities Management & Planning (FM&P) organization. The project took up much of the summer, but in early August, Mankey and Purtell—along with their work supervisor, Jeff Hoseth—came across a toaster-sized copper container, buried in a box along with university building records.

The time capsule had been buried in June 1915, the student workers later learned, when the cornerstone was laid for a Massachusetts Army National Guard Armory. In 2002, the building—called the Commonwealth Armory— was razed to build BU’s John Hancock Student Village complex. The armory’s original cornerstone was reset into one of the arena’s new walls, but the hidden box was stored away and presumably lost to memory with the passing years.

Mumford helped Mankey and Purtell unpack the time capsule, which had previously been pried open. It was filled with historic records, including a 1915 newspaper with articles about World War I and a map of the newly-constructed MTA subway to Harvard Square; old coins, including an 1894 quarter; construction records; antique photos; and rosters of men based in the armory.

BU officials said they were contacting the National Guard for guidance on what to do with the time capsule and its contents. In the meantime, the student workers who found the relic say it was a fitting reward for a summer of hard work.

[h/t Boston.com]

Tune in Tonight: Mental Floss on Jeopardy!

All that time you've spent on here is about to pay off.

Tune in tonight for Jeopardy! and you'll catch the debut of the "I Learned It From Mental Floss" category. Big bucket list moment for us.

We've been working closely with the Jeopardy! team over on Instagram, sharing amazing facts on both @jeopardy and @mental_floss. Study up!

Check your local listings for stations and show times.

Millennials Get Blamed for a Lot, But They Could Help to Save the U.S. Postal Service

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Millennials get a bad rap for destroying everything from homeownership rates to fabric softener sales, but there's one important traditional industry they're enthusiastic about: the U.S. Postal Service. According to CityLab, a new USPS report [PDF] finds that young people's appreciation for snail mail could help boost the often-struggling agency's fortunes in the future.

Probing for insights into the minds of young people ages 18 to 34 (a little off from the Pew Research Center's definition of Millennials as being people ages 22 to 37), the USPS conducted surveys and hosted live chats online to figure out what Millennials think of the agency, and how the Postal Service can ignite their love of snail mail.

That's vital, because as it is, technological innovations like email and online bill payments are putting the USPS out of business. It lost money for the 11th year in a row in 2017, and while shipping packages is getting more popular (thank you, online shopping habits), it hasn't been enough to offset the decline of mail during that year—mail rates declined by 50 billion pieces in 2017. Young people ages 18 to 34 received an average of 17 pieces of mail each week in 2001, while they only receive 10 now.

But Millennials, it turns out, love mail, even if they don't want to pay their bills with it. As the report observes, "many Millennials still delight in receiving personalized notes or cards around holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions." Three-quarters of respondents said that getting personalized mail from friends and family "makes them feel special." According to the report, around 80 percent of Millennials say they're satisfied with the USPS, around the same rate as older, stamp-loving generations. More Millennials than Boomers, meanwhile, have a USPS.com account, and 59 percent say that the USPS is an innovative organization.

Millennials mentioned several ideas for USPS improvements that already basically exist, like self-service kiosks, at-home package pickup, and Informed Delivery emails, meaning the Postal Service isn't always the best at getting the word out about the cool things it already does. The report also shows that the Postal Service is still working on an augmented reality service that could give you a look at what's inside a package before you open it. (The idea debuted in 2016, but the app was largely limited to showing animated messages.)

The surveys and discussions did come up with a new idea to endear the post office to Millennials: a rewards program. The young people surveyed suggested that members could earn points by buying stamps or mailing packages and use them to redeem discounts or enter contests.

Millennials: They may be ruining vacations, but at least they're ready to save the mail.

[h/t CityLab]

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