UW Today

This is an archived article.

December 10, 2009

Over the moon: Help 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.

If someone told you he was majoring in selenography, would you know what he was talking about? Well, apparently there was once a department devoted to the subject at the UW, because in the opening scene of this week’s Lost & Found Film, we see a sign on the door that says “Selenography Department.” According to Webster’s dictionary, the word means the study of the surface and physical features of the moon, thus explaining the film’s title, Moon Mapping.


In the film, two men open the door of the department and observe the activities inside. Students are sitting at long tables, working on what appear to be topographical maps of the surface of the moon. The men engage one of the room’s occupants in a conversation. We see close-ups of the work, and at the end, a student adds a panel to very large map.


The film is silent, two and a half minutes long and was made in about 1963. Here’s what UW Film Archives Specialist Hannah Palin would like to know:



  • What was the Selenography Department and where did it end up?
  • Is there still an official field called selenography?
  • Who are the gentlemen in the film?
  • Why was this film taken and how was it used?


Palin got some good information about last week’s film, Neah Bay, including the names of the Native American elders seen in it. She welcomes further leads on the subject.


Now help her unravel the mysteries of Moon Mapping.