May 18, 2012

Lost and Found Films: The UW Nuclear Reactor, 1963

News and Information

It’s 1963 again in our latest installment of Lost and Found Films, where readers help identify historic bits of film from the Audio Visual Materials Library, provided by film archivist Hannah Palin.

This time we take a look at the More Hall Annex and its nuclear reactor in a silent, black-and-white film a bit under two minutes long.

It begins with shots of the building’s exterior as people file by, and then shows a man in a white lab coat and bow tie discussing and pointing to an elaborate diagram on the wall. He is then seen as one of three scientists measuring radiation levels, working panels of controls and looking at readouts.

But who is that scientist with the side part, greased hair, dark-framed glasses and lab coat? What is this trio measuring with an instrument that looks like a hair dryer? And what are they recording in that huge ledger?

This film is one of hundreds of reels that Palin is trying to identify for archiving purposes. She has clips from the late 1930s through the 1970s — some from research projects, some from campus events and some from commercial films or campus productions.

There’s plenty of information about the nuclear reactor that operated on the UW campus until 1988. Palin dug up a 2006 Seattle Times article about the dismantling of the reactor, a 2009 blog about its history and an article by The Daily’s Will Mari.

Still, Palin says, “We’re not nuclear scientists, so we’re looking for details about who exactly is in this film clip, and exactly what they are doing.”

So, if you have expertise in this area and can help, put down that Geiger counter and write a comment below.

Previous Lost and Found Films in 2012.

•    “University Parking,” from 1960.
•    “Inaugural,” from 1958.

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