In a unique project, 800 letters from writers in India and 31 other countries addressed to the people of 2109 have been sealed and stored in Cambridge’s University Library as part of its 800th anniversary celebrations.
University staff and students, people from the wider Cambridge community and senior academics from around the world all took part in “Letters To The Future” project yesterday.
Their messages, which touch on subjects ranging from climate change and global recession to the progress of the current television series of the X Factor, were sealed and stored in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II.
The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alison Richard said the 800 letters, which the varsity’s messenger service took in eight boxes to the library, will remain unopened for a century.
Each author has also been given a certificate to pass down to the future generations. In 2109, anyone in possession of a certificate will be able to take it to the library and retrieve a message from their ancestor, Richard said.
Together, the letters should provide a fascinating snapshot of life in Cambridge, and indeed the world, in 2009.
The writers include leading academics, among them the heads of both Harvard and Oxford, as well as hundreds of school children, he added.
Readers in 100 years’ time will find out about topics as diverse as Afghanistan war, credit crunch, iPods, or, in the case of one young correspondent, “rabbits with floppy ears”.
Many of the authors reflected on just what condition the world may be in by then.
“Our current targets and strategies for reducing carbon emissions are based on predictions of the likely effects on our climate by 2080. It will be interesting to see if reader of my letter in 2109 feels that our predictions were correct,” one University staff member said.
A 7-year-old student wrote about the environment hoping “that there would still be some polar bears left in a hundred years’ time. “I wrote about how we are living in a time of reality TV and celebrity,” said another writer.
“Will people in 100 years’ time know about, or care about, Twitter and blogging? If not, what will have replaced it?” another member asked.
About 800 correspondents from 32 countries across six continents took part in the project, the members include 51 university alumni, 137 members of the University and college staff, 105 students, 82 people from other universities, 326 school children and 99 members of the public.
Head of 800th Anniversary Year celebrations Geoff Morris said, “’Letters To The Future’ project will leave a wonderful and fascinating legacy to Cambridge community as a whole when they come to celebrate its 900th birthday in 2109.”