Thornwell Jacobs

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Thornwell Jacobs
Thornwell Jacobs in 1940.png
Dr. Thornwell Jacobs, president of Oglethorpe University, shown sealing the last cylinder to be placed in the Crypt of Civilization.
Born(1877-02-15)15 February 1877
Died4 August 1956
OccupationPresbyterian minister, author, educator, business executive
Known foreducator, "time capsule"
Parent(s)William Plumer Jacobs
Mary Jane (Dillard)

Thornwell Jacobs (February 15, 1877 – August 4, 1956) was an educator, author, and a Presbyterian minister. [1]


Early life

Jacobs was born in Clinton, South Carolina, February 15, 1877, at the Thornwell Orphanage. [2] [3] The orphanage was founded by his father, Reverend William Plumer Jacobs. [3] His mother was Mary Jane (Dillard) Jacobs. [2]

Clinton, South Carolina City in South Carolina, United States

Clinton is a city in Laurens County, South Carolina, United States. The population was 8,490 as of the 2010 census. It is part of the Greenville–Mauldin–Easley Metropolitan Statistical Area. Clinton is the home of Presbyterian College.

South Carolina U.S. state in the United States

South Carolina is a state in the Southeastern United States and the easternmost of the Deep South. It is bordered to the north by North Carolina, to the southeast by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the southwest by Georgia across the Savannah River.

Jacobs learned the printing trade while he was still quite young. Later he earned the Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Arts degree from South Carolina's Presbyterian College in 1895, also founded by his father. [2] [3] He also graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey in 1899. [2] [3]

A Bachelor of Arts is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, sciences, or both. Bachelor of Arts programs generally take three to four years depending on the country, institution, and specific specializations, majors, or minors. The word baccalaureus should not be confused with baccalaureatus, which refers to the one- to two-year postgraduate Bachelor of Arts with Honors degree in some countries.

A Master of Arts is a person who was admitted to a type of master's degree awarded by universities in many countries, and the degree is also named Master of Arts in colloquial speech. The degree is usually contrasted with the Master of Science. Those admitted to the degree typically study linguistics, history, communication studies, diplomacy, public administration, political science, or other subjects within the scope of the humanities and social sciences; however, different universities have different conventions and may also offer the degree for fields typically considered within the natural sciences and mathematics. The degree can be conferred in respect of completing courses and passing examinations, research, or a combination of the two.

Princeton Theological Seminary seminary

Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) is a private Presbyterian school of theology in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1812 under the auspices of Archibald Alexander, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, and the College of New Jersey, it is the second-oldest seminary in the United States. It is also the largest of ten seminaries associated with the Presbyterian Church.

His grandfather Ferdinand Jacobs taught Mathematics and Astronomy at the antebellum Oglethorpe University, based in Milledgeville, GA, from 1845 to 1849.

Adult life

Jacobs served as a Presbyterian pastorate in Morganton at the Presbyterian Church from 1900 to 1903. He then worked in advertising in Nashville, Tennessee, until 1905. After this time Jacobs began institutional support for the Thornwell Orphanage. [3]

Morganton, North Carolina City in North Carolina, United States

Morganton is a city in and the county seat of Burke County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 16,918 at the 2010 census.

Nashville, Tennessee State capital and consolidated city-county in Tennessee, United States

Nashville is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Tennessee. The city is the county seat of Davidson County and is located on the Cumberland River. The city's population ranks 24th in the U.S. According to 2018 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the total consolidated city-county population stood at 692,587. The "balance" population, which excludes semi-independent municipalities within Davidson County, was 669,053 in 2018.


Jacobs is noted for revitalizing and rebuilding the antebellum college of Oglethorpe University. He became its president on January 21, 1915 and continued in that position for nearly three decades. [1] Oglethorpe University, named after James Edward Oglethorpe, the founder of the colony of Georgia, had been chartered a Presbyterian institution in 1835. [4] It had been shut down during the American Civil War and did not successfully reopen until Jacobs intervened. [3]

Oglethorpe University United States historic place

Oglethorpe University is a private liberal arts college in Brookhaven, Georgia. Originally chartered in 1835, it was named in honor of General James Edward Oglethorpe, founder of the Colony of Georgia.

American Civil War Internal war in the U.S. over slavery

The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North and the South. The Civil War began primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people. War broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North, which also included some geographically western and southern states, proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights in order to uphold slavery.


In 1922 Jacobs rediscovered the burial place of General James Edward Oglethorpe in Cranham, England. [1]

Cranham human settlement in United Kingdom

Cranham is a residential area of east London, and part of the London Borough of Havering. It is located 17.5 miles (28 km) east-northeast of Charing Cross and comprises an extensive built-up area to the north and a low density conservation area to the south surrounded by open land. It was historically a rural village in the county of Essex and formed an ancient parish. It is peripheral to London, forming the eastern edge of the urban sprawl. The economic history of Cranham is characterised by a shift from agriculture to housing development. As part of the suburban growth of London in the 20th century, Cranham significantly increased in population, becoming part of Hornchurch Urban District in 1934 and has formed part of Greater London since 1965. The 2011 Census population of Cranham was included in Upminster.

Crypt of Civilization

Jacobs originated the Crypt of Civilization time capsule at Oglethorpe University. It was sealed off with steel doors in 1940. [1] [3] According to the Guinness Book of World Records it is "the first successful attempt to bury a record of this culture for any future inhabitants or visitors to the planet Earth." [5]

Jacobs initially planned and designed the Crypt of Civilization storage space to preserve information of the early 20th century in 1935. [6] He discussed this proposal in an article in Scientific American , November 1936, because he was struck by the dearth of information on the ancient civilizations. [7] Jacobs wrote of a unique plan to present a "running story" of life and customs. He wanted to show the accumulated knowledge of mankind up until his time. [7]

The Crypt was sealed on May 28, 1940. It is intended to be opened May 28, 8113 C.E.. Jacobs is known as the "father of the modern time capsule." [8] [9] George Edward Pendray is the person responsible for coining the term time capsule . [6] [10] [11] Pendray is also the one responsible for the Westinghouse time capsule that was buried in 1938 for the 1939 New York World's Fair. [7] Pendray "borrowed" the original idea from Jacobs. [12] [13] [14] Originally Westinghouse's project was named "time bomb". [6]

The date of 8113 C.E. was calculated by Jacobs from the first fixed date in history, 4241 B.C.E. This is the time that most historians believe was when the Egyptian calendar was established. The Crypt's projected intended opening is in exactly 6177 years. [1] This is the number of years between 4241 BCE and 1936 CE. Jacobs projected the same period of time forward from 1936 giving this opening date of 8113. [8]


Jacobs died August 4, 1956 in Atlanta, Georgia. He is buried at the First Presbyterian Church cemetery in Clinton, South Carolina. [2] [3]


Related Research Articles

Time capsule Cache of goods or data secured for some time to be opened at a date in the future

A time capsule is a historic cache of goods or information, usually intended as a deliberate method of communication with future people, and to help future archaeologists, anthropologists, or historians. The preservation of holy relics dates back for millennia, but the practice of preparing and preserving a collection of everyday artifacts and messages to the future appears to be a more recent practice. Time capsules are sometimes created and buried during celebrations such as a world's fair, a cornerstone laying for a building, or at other ceremonies.

Crypt of Civilization

The Crypt of Civilization is a sealed airtight chamber built between 1937 and 1940 at Oglethorpe University in Brookhaven, Georgia, in Metro Atlanta. The 2,000-cubic-foot (57 m3) room contains numerous artifacts and documents, and is designed for opening in the year 8113 AD. During the 50th anniversary year of its sealing, the Guinness Book of World Records cited the crypt as the "first successful attempt to bury a record of this culture for any future inhabitants or visitors to the planet Earth."

International Time Capsule Society historical society

The International Time Capsule Society (ITCS), based at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, is an organization established to promote the study of time capsules. Since 1990, it has been documenting all types of time capsule projects worldwide. In October 2016 its website reported that it is no longer active but continues to register time capsules.

The ninth millennium in the anno Domini or Common Era of the Gregorian calendar will begin on January 1, 8001, and end on December 31, 9000.

Presbyterian College

Presbyterian College (PC) is a private Presbyterian liberal arts college in Clinton, South Carolina.

Benjamin M. Palmer American minister and activist

Benjamin Morgan Palmer, an orator and Presbyterian theologian, was the first moderator of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America. As pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of New Orleans, his Thanksgiving sermon in 1860 had a great influence in leading Louisiana to join the Confederate States of America. After 1865 he was minister in the Presbyterian Church in the United States.

Thornwell Orphanage opened in Clinton, South Carolina on October 1, 1875, to ten children orphaned by the American Civil War. It was founded by Reverend William Plumer Jacobs and named for noted theologian James Henley Thornwell. Dr. Jacobs went on to found Presbyterian College and his son Thornwell Jacobs revitalized Oglethorpe University.

Westinghouse Time Capsules

The Westinghouse Time Capsules are two time capsules prepared by the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company: "Time Capsule I" was created for the 1939 New York World's Fair and "Time Capsule II" was created for the 1964 New York World's Fair. Both are buried 50 feet below Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, the site of both world's fairs; the 1965 capsule was placed ten feet north of the 1939 capsule. The capsules are to be opened at the same time in the year 6939, five thousand years after the first capsule was sealed.

Tadeusz Piotrowski or Thaddeus Piotrowski is a Polish-American sociologist. He is a Professor of Sociology in the Social Science Division of the University of New Hampshire at Manchester in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he lives.

George Edward Pendray journalist, rocketeer

George Edward Pendray was an American public relations counselor, author, foundation executive, and an early advocate of rockets and spaceflight.

Thomas Kimmwood Peters American film producer

Thomas Kimmwood Peters was a pioneer American motion picture producer, newsreel cameraman, photographer, educator, and inventor.

William James Mallon is an American orthopedic surgeon, former professional golfer and a leading authority on the history of the Olympic Games.

Lachlan McIntosh American general

Lachlan McIntosh was a Scottish American military and political leader during the American Revolution and the early United States. In a 1777 duel, he fatally shot Button Gwinnett, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

The Trustees for the Establishment of the Colony of Georgia in America, or simply the Georgia Trustees, was organized by James Edward Oglethorpe and associates following Parliamentary investigations into prison conditions in Britain. The organization petitioned for a royal charter in July, 1731, which was signed by George II in April, 1732. After passing through government ministries, the charter reached the Trustees in June, 1732. Oglethorpe personally led the first group of colonist to the New World colony, departing England on November, 1732 and arriving at the site of present-day Savannah, Georgia on February 12, 1733 O.S. The founding of Georgia is celebrated on February 1, 1733 N.S., the date corresponding to the modern Gregorian calendar adopted after the establishment of the colony.

Oglethorpes Regiment

Oglethorpe's Regiment of Foot was an infantry regiment of the British Army formed for service in North America during the War of Jenkins' Ear. It was commanded by James Oglethorpe, first Governor of Georgia.

The following is a timeline of time capsules that are either scheduled to be installed, to be opened or have already been opened.

James Oglethorpe British Army general, founder of the Georgia colony

James Edward Oglethorpe was a British soldier, Member of Parliament, and philanthropist, as well as the founder of the colony of Georgia. As a social reformer, he hoped to resettle Britain's worthy poor in the New World, initially focusing on those in debtors' prisons.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "Article on Paul Stephen Hudson". Archived from the original on 2011-07-09. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Who Was Who, p. 443
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "The New Georgia Encyclopedia" . Retrieved 2008-07-05.
  4. "The New Georgia Encyclopedia — Education — Oglethorpe University" . Retrieved 2008-06-28.
  5. Guinness Book of World Records 1990.
  6. 1 2 3 Jarvis, p. 155. McFarland. 2003. ISBN   978-0-7864-1261-7 . Retrieved 2008-06-28.
  7. 1 2 3 "History of the Crypt of Civilization". Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
  8. 1 2 "Oglethorpe University - International Time Capsule Society". Archived from the original on 2008-06-20. Retrieved 2008-07-05.
  9. Jarvis, page 232. McFarland. 2003. ISBN   978-0-7864-1261-7 . Retrieved 2008-07-05.
  10. "Princeton University Library — G. Edward Pendray Papers, 1829–1981 (bulk 1923–1971)". Archived from the original on 2010-03-29. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
  11. New York Times, August 19, 1938, page 21
  12. Jarvis, p. 153. McFarland. 2003. ISBN   978-0-7864-1261-7 . Retrieved 2008-06-28.
  13. Jarvis, p. 155. McFarland. 2003. ISBN   978-0-7864-1261-7 . Retrieved 2008-06-28.
  14. Jarvis, p. 156. McFarland. 2003. ISBN   978-0-7864-1261-7 . Retrieved 2008-06-28.


See also