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Do you have boxes or tubs of photo albums and documents stored away? If you’re nodding yes, how old are they?

If you’re like many of us, you put them away a while back, and in recent years not too much has been saved. Photos on the phone and computer and emailed documents are just too easy and often fit the bill these days. But will those images still be accessible in 50 years?

The Indiana bicentennial year has sparked some residents to go through those photo albums, and in some cases share photos on social media or through our bicentennial site, nwi.com/history.

This has been rich and rewarding, for families and readers at large. I hope it continues well past the bicentennial year.

But we’ve been encouraged to take advantage of this spotlight on state and Region history and roll out an initiative to share with future generations.

Partnering with the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, we’re suggesting Time Capsule 2016-2066 as an activity for your family, your class or school or your organization.

Your time capsule, filled with things you collect in coming weeks, would be sealed Dec. 11, 2016, Indiana’s 200th anniversary of statehood.

We have special stickers that could be used to seal the contents in a container of your choice, which would be hidden inside rather than buried outside. The sticker would indicate that the time to open and look is 2066.

To request one or more stickers and let us know your plan, send a note to letters@nwi.com or contact librarian Pat Kincaid at patricia.kincaid@nwi.com or (219) 933-3383. We’d like to share some examples in coming weeks of gathering materials for Time Capsules in the Region.

Doug Ross, who has been overseeing our bicentennial history initiative, thought up the time capsule idea early this year.

“When I was a kid, my siblings and I would give Dad school papers or drawings to seal up inside the house whenever Dad remodeled a room. It was our way of letting future owners of that house know we were there before them, and what we were like,” Ross said.

The more he digs into the Region’s history, the more eager he is to make sure residents do their own time capsules for future generations to enjoy.

There are two secrets to success for time capsules, Ross learned as he developed this proposal. One is not to bury it because it might be forgotten or damaged underground. The other is to plan for the time capsule to be opened in 50 years. That way, young people today might still be living and help future children know why those artifacts were chosen and offer historical perspective.

What should be in your time capsule? That’s entirely up to you, but we’ve come up with a list of potential contents that in some cases would be easy to find and in other cases would spark family discussions.

Some examples for a family time capsule: Recent photos, with names and birthdates on the back; a list of each family member’s favorite TV shows, movies and songs, restaurants and meals; a sports story on your favorite local and professional teams, a story on this year’s presidential election and more, to be decided by you.

We also suggest you write your memories of major events, much like many readers did recently when remembering 9/11 on the 15th anniversary. The time capsule will be a perfect place to share your memories with future generations.

At The Times, we’re planning a time capsule that will include recent and historical clippings and photos and some items we’ve found from our past that say The Hammond Times and The Lake County Times.

Our full content list is attached to this column online. It’s available in print at the Indiana Welcome Center and The Times’ offices in Munster and Valparaiso. We’ve also sent it to historical societies in the Region.

This promises to be a fun and rewarding exercise for your family, your school or your organization. Enjoy it along with our bicentennial site at nwi.com/history and our NWI History Facebook page.

Thanks for reading us. Please contact me with any questions about The Times or our many publications.

Bob Heisse is editor of The Times Media Co. He can be reached at (219) 933-3327 or bob.heisse@nwi.com.

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Editor

Bob is editor of The Times Media Co. He started in Northwest Indiana in April 2014 following stints as executive editor of The State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill., and The Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa.