Sunday, June 14, 2015

Do-It-Yourself Time Machine

The year was 1875.  Ulysses S. Grant was the president of the United States.  Thomas A. Hendricks was the governor of Indiana and Utah was still a territory.  The United States Congress passed the Civil Rights Act (later invalidated by the Supreme Court in 1883), which prohibited racial discrimination in public accommodations and jury duty.  Ten sophomores from Rutgers College stole a one-ton cannon from the campus of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton)  and started the Rutgers-Princeton Cannon War.  Aristides wins the first Kentucky Derby.  Brigham Young University was founded in Provo, Utah.  The electric dental drill was patented by George F. Green.  The first baseball shutout was recorded, Chicago 1, St Louis 0.  Jesse James robbed a train in Otterville, Missouri.  The first newspaper cartoon strip appeared.

Life is much different in 2015 than it was 140 years ago.  Elder Packham and I have imagined what it would be like to engage a time machine to transport us back to the streets of Terre Haute in 1875. Thanks to the documents we are now preserving from that era, we don't need H. G. Wells.  Receipts, advertisements, and letterhead have been a fun way of getting a glimpse of what life was like so many years ago.  We thought you might enjoy a journey back in time, as well.

Isaac Ball was the best known undertaker in Terre Haute.
This decent "burial box" was $53.

An advertisement like this would be
censored in the Deseret News today.

Federal Express and UPS

No logos or embroidered stitching...just plain black.

Mr. Mac's for missionaries

Help Wanted ads

Jiffy Lube

Xerox, Kinkos or your
PC Printer

Gucci's for women

Mass Transit

Nike and Adidas

Home Depot


In another 140 years it will be June, 2155.  We will be faces on a pedigree sheet.  The little children in our lives today will be someone's great great grandparents.  What will future generations know about us?
"One hundred or two hundred years from now, your descendants can know who you are. And they may find their lives forever changed for the better because of the legacy of uplifting, faith-promoting strength you left them. You should record your life history and experiences for your children and grandchildren, and beyond. In this way, they can benefit and learn from your life. Even if they have never met you, they can come to love you and “turn their hearts” to you. Through keeping journals and writing personal and family histories, you can give your posterity the opportunity to turn their hearts toward you.
"Include news events that were happening at that time in your life which not only help set it against the circumstances of the times, but also make your story more interesting. You may also find that by remembering historical events, you will be stimulating more of your personal memories. Memorabilia can also help bring back memories, such as: music, photos, letters, talking with family or friends, even familiar smells and sounds.
"Have fun creating your memoirs and most likely others will enjoy reading it. You can include interesting things like photos, maps, news articles, receipts, favorite quotations and jokes, cards, etc.  Your journals and records will be a great source of inspiration to your children, your grandchildren, and others through many generations." (

I love to write in my journals during my morning study time.
Elder Packham has different journals for different purposes.

We were called to be Record Preservation Specialists.  We believe in making and preserving records of our lives.  Through our journals, books, histories, photographs, and recordings, some day, Elder Packham's descendants will read his testimony, try his favorite recipe, appreciate his humor, and learn from his challenges.  Quite possible, they may also look at the ads in the newspaper from June 14, 2015 and exclaim, "what old fashioned cars they had...they didn't even fly!"