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Research Guides

Historical Visual Materials Collections: Moving Images

This guide lists a variety of research materials such as photographs, architectural plans, postcards, historical maps, artwork and ephemera.

About the Moving Images Collection

The moving image collection contains film and video in a wide variety of formats. The film collection contains films dating back to 1914 and includes 35mm, 16mm, 8mm and Super 8mm formats.

The collection has a variety of types of films including home movies, such as a prominent Seattle family's trip through Alaska in the 1920s, a Japanese photographer's family and friends skiing and picnicking on Mt. Rainier in the 1930s, and couple's visit to the Century 21 World's Fair in Seattle in 1963. Other types of film in the collection include industrial and educational films like "Salmon: Catch To Can" or "How To Use a Slide Rule," as well as many films produced on the UW campus during the 1940s - 1970s.

The films cover a wide variety of topics including travel and family life, activities and research related to the UW, industries such as plywood manufacturing, logging, fishing, whaling, and construction, political figures, civil rights and labor, and other documentation of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.

There is also a large collection of video dating back to the 1950s which includes 2" Quad tapes, reel to reel, U-Matic cassettes, VHS and many other video formats. They document many aspects of life in the Northwest including the arts, UW activities, politics, health issues, ethnic groups such as Japanese, African-American, and Jewish communities.

Search for Moving Images

Digital Collections

Streaming video clips from some of the films in the collection are available for viewing on the Digital Collections website.

Finding Aids for Moving Images

Finding aids for special collections materials are housed in a regional fining aid repository called ArchivesWest. When searching in ArchivesWest, be sure to limit your search by repository by clicking "University of Washington Libraries Special Collections" in the left column of the search results, or you will end up with results from universities and museums from all over the Pacific Northwest. You can also narrow down searches by material type.

Library Catalog

You can search for moving images held within Special Collections using the library online catalog. Follow this LibGuide for instructions on how to perform an advanced search for moving images. In step 2, you can select "UW Special Collections" to narrow the results to only Special Collections materials.

Requesting Access

Any questions regarding viewing materials in the Moving Image Collection can be directed to Hannah Palin, Film Archives Specialist at the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections, at

Requesting Reproductions

Reproductions of moving images can be purchased through the Special Collections by filling out a Moving Image Reproduction Request Form and a Moving Image Application for Permission to Use Form. More information can be found on the Special Collections website.

Highlights from the Collections

Moving Image Collection Digital Site

Overview and highlights from the moving image collections.

Husky Reels (fundraiser page)

A collection of films of UW Athletics in need of preservation.

The Adrian Cowell Film and Research Collection​ (fundraiser page)

A collection of films taken in Burma by renowned documentary filmmaker Adrian Cowell.

Lost and Found Films YouTube Playlist

Brief films of unknown origin and subject from the Moving Image Collection.

The KIRO-TV News Videotape Collection

The KIRO-TV News Videotape Collection is a newly acquired collection of more than 15,000 videotapes from KIRO-TV Channel 7, the CBS affiliate in Seattle. The collection includes a significant record of local Northwest and national history from the 1950s-2000s. Stories worth noting in the collection are: the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, the Green River Killer, the first Seahawks, Mariners, and Storm games, the collapse of the Hood Canal Bridge, the WTO protests, and the Nisqually earthquake, the growth of cultural trends such as Grunge rock, building the new Seattle Art Museum and the construction of Seattle Center.



The moving image collections staff is available to offer advice on film preservation issues. They have written an instruction manual for film preservation: Washington State Film Preservation Manual: Low-Cost and No-Cost Suggestions To Care For Your Film (PDF).

Related Links and Guides

LibGuide for Audio and Video resources at the University of Washington, compiled by the Libraries Media Center.