This is an archived article.

October 1, 2009

This one’s just trashy — but what’s it all about? Help the library identify this week’s Lost and Found Film

Editor’s Note: The UW Audio Visual Services Materials Library has more than 1,200 reels of film from the late 1940s through the early 1970s, documenting life at the University through telecourses, commercial films and original productions. Some of the short films are easily identifiable, but many more remain mysteries. Who shot these films and why? Can you help answer those questions? Faculty and staff can use the comments field at the end of the story to send ideas. Those outside the University can e-mail filmarc@u.washington.edu.


This week’s film depicts a time when it was a good thing to throw paper and cardboard into trash bins. Created around 1972, it is set in a Seattle park, where two young women — presumably students — sit next to a trash bin with a sign on it reading “At times persons depositing litter in this container will be rewarded.”



Predictably, we then see people — mostly children — depositing trash (although some of it would be recycled today). The young women sit with a box full of index cards, sometimes moving the cards. And at times a child will be given something after tossing items into the trash.


UW Film Archives Specialist Hannah Palin knows the film depicts a psychology experiment, because in another piece of footage, there is a sign on a bench that reads, “Data is being collected by the University of Washington Psychology Department in conjunction with the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department.” What she’d like to know is:



  • Who was conducting the study and why?
  • What were the results of the study?
  • Which park is the experiment being conducted in?
  • Why was this film taken and how was it used?


Palin received a couple of clues about last issue’s film, Public Opinion Laboratory. One was a description of the lab, and another a suggestion that the experiment with the cat depicted in it might have been conducted by Edwin Guthrie, who studied cats.


Now we need you to apply your detective skills to Trash and help Palin learn more about it.