Despite the Snow Emergency in Madison this week, the Treasures of the Libraries event, On Wisconsin, On Film: Historic Films from the University Archives, was a rousing success.  According to Images and Media Archivist and co-host, Vicki Tobias, the event was standing room only. Over 100 people from campus and the greater Madison community packed in to the Memorial Library Commons, including UW-Madison Dean of Students, Lori Berquam and representatives from local papers.

Yesterday, the Cap Times ran an article to advertize the event, and summarized the fascinating digital shift that is changing how we document, archive, and preserve the story of the UW Campus on film.  Films in UW archives offer interesting window into campus life decades ago, by Rob Thomas, states:

In the digital age, the way students and faculty document their lives has changed dramatically. Seemingly everybody is recording their experiences on campus, but instead of shooting longer film footage, they’re recording in short bursts on their smartphones.

How to access all that material, sift through it and decide what to preserve is an interesting challenge.

The article includes links to two films that have been digitized, including the oldest film to be screened during the event,  University of Wisconsin Landscape (1929) #3, which has been added to the UW Archives YouTube channel, along with other treasures from the film vault.
Click image to see the digitized film on YouTube

Vicki Tobias also shared a wonderful interaction she had during the event that highlights the importance of preserving these stories and sharing them: “A woman came up to me afterwards and thanked me profusely,” she says. “One of the films we showed featured a short clip of her grandfather, who had been a Physics professor at UW in the 1960s. She had never seen the film, and asked for a copy for her and her parents, etc. She was really overwhelmed and excited.”

Based on the remarkable success of the screening and the level of engagement with such a broad audience, Vicki believes the Archives will try to make On Wisconsin, On Film an annual event.

Want More?
Visit the UW Archives on Flickr, Tumblr, and YouTube to access newly digitized material, including historic photos and films that document Campus history.