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June 2012 |  Return to issue home

Husky Reels: Preserving Eighty Years of Husky Athletics

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 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.

videotapes documenting Husly sports from 1929 through the early 2000s

When all was said and done, more than 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 films include Husky football, basketball, 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 that specialize 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 Of the thousands of videotapes in the collection, some are in extinct or endangered formats requiring out-of-date analog equipment that can only be found at two or three companies in the country.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.

Maria Koh and Dori Jones Yang

The Libraries’ 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 will be able to 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; they been working together for ten years on projects held by Special Collections via the Moving Image web collection.

Their co-authored publication, The Washington State Preservation Manual, is used nationwide to help librarians and archivists deal with their moving image materials: film, video and other formats. Bromberg and Palin spearheaded a collaborative film preservation project with nine other regional institutions – including the Seattle Municipal Archives, the Yakama Nation, and the Museum of History and Industry – to assist them in preserving and transferring previously unseen material.
Bromberg and Palin will be assisted by a team of student employees who will get hands-on training in film preservation and archival practices.

This process is labor intensive and costly, and goes above and beyond the Libraries’ usual scope of work. Without support for preserving these materials, this footage will continue to deteriorate and the early history of Husky Athletics will disappear forever.

The Libraries mission is to “connect people with knowledge.” We are proud–and pressed–to preserve the history of our student athletes from 1928 through the early 2000s.

Maria Koh and Dori Jones Yang

As the University closes its sesquicentennial, we invite you to Love Purple Raise Gold and give online in the 48 hours from June 7, 1:50 pm and June 9, 1:51 pm.

Please join our team to help preserve these fleeting images of our student athletes. Whether you are an alumnus, a former or current athlete, or one who values the importance of preservation, you can play a role in making this project possible.

As an added incentive, a generous donor has agreed to match–dollar-for-dollar– your gift to the Libraries fund to restore the UW Intercollegiate Athletics film and video.

Please contact us at uwlibs@uw.edu or 206-616-8397 with your questions, or to make a gift over the phone with your credit card.

June 2012  |  Return to issue home

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