In 2009, Hannah Palin, Film Archives Specialist in Libraries Special Collections, was shown the contents of a storage room off Aisle 50 in Husky Stadium by then Communications Director, Richard Kilwein, from the UW Athletics Department. In this room that was open to wind and weather, she discovered boxes of film and stacks of videotape among piles of printed programs, gas-powered leaf blowers, and the remnants left by a family of raccoons.
Palin and a team of students from UW Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA) rolled up their sleeves and spent the summer packing up films to move out of Husky Stadium. In 2011, the same was done for videotapes before the renovation of Husky Stadium began.
When all was said and done, over 3,100 reels of film and nearly 4,200 videotapes documenting Husky Sports from 1928 through the early 2000s came to Special Collections with the blessing of Husky Athletics to preserve and make accessible the footage of our student athletes. The films include Husky football, basketball, and crew matches, training films, recruitment films, and related college sports material dating from 1928-1991. The videotape collection includes soccer, baseball, volleyball, gymnastics, and swimming.
Some films have deteriorated to such a degree that they will need to be sent to labs specializing in disaster recovery before they can be viewed. Of the thousands of videotapes in the collection, some are in extinct or endangered formats requiring out-of-date analog equipment that can only be found at two or three companies in the country. Most require a great deal of work in order to save them for future generations, and some are beyond repair.
Our five-year goal is to organize, describe, preserve and make accessible the UW’s athletic heritage contained in these 7,000 reels and cassettes. In time, selections from the collection will be digitized and available for viewing online. Researchers, students, scholars, and Husky fans alike can search for and view moments in UW sports that have been unseen for decades.
Palin, along with Nicolette Bromberg, Visual Materials Curator, have extensive experience in preserving and making accessible films and videotapes. Their publication, the Washington State Film Preservation Manual, is used to train film preservationists across the country.
They have been working together for ten years on projects held by Special Collections via the Moving Image web collection.
Palin and Bromberg will lead a team of Libraries student employees who will get first-hand training on film preservation.
For the moment, the deterioration of these reels is on “pause.” But without support for preserving, cataloguing and documenting, this history of the University of Washington’s Inter-collegiate athletics will disappear forever.
The Libraries mission is to “connect people with knowledge." As home to the University Archives, we are proud – and pressed – to preserve the history of our student athletes from 1928 – 2011.
Won’t you join our team?
Contact Libraries Advancement with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 206-616-8397