A Reel Grand Time!

On the 4th of May, the Northwest Room presented an exhibition of historical films, videos, and audio recordings from its local history archives at The Grand Cinema. The turnout was remarkable, and we would like to thank everyone who attended! The venue reached full capacity, and the event concluded with an engaging Q&A session. For those unable to attend, the video has been made available for streaming on our YouTube channel (Click Here!).

During our closure (we are currently only open for appointments), the Northwest Room has been busy organizing its collections. This endeavor led to the discovery of an array of audiovisual materials, including 16mm and 8mm films, VHS tapes, reel-to-reel tapes, and U-Matic tapes. Most of these items originated from well-known collections like the Richards Photography Studio, The City of Tacoma, and Tacoma Municipal Television, however, some sources were a mystery. Lacking the equipment to preview these materials, their contents were

unknown until the recent digitization. The VHS tapes, 8mm film, and audio was digitized by the Northwest Room's project partner, Damahn Sterling. The other content such as the 16mm film and U-Matic tapes were sent to outside venders for digitization. Once we were able to view the digitized content it revealed more than we anticipated. The screening showcased just a snippet of these treasures. From a self-produced library video on intellectual freedom to vibrant color footage of Tacoma’s Daffodil parades, the selection of footage shown — including film shot in the early 1950s of the Tacoma Studs baseball team training — was only a scratch on the surface of the diverse media that will eventually be shared.

“I tried to digitize what I thought would be very interesting and unique to Tacoma’s history,” Damahn noted. Reflecting on the digitization of audio and video, he added, “We have so much material that was not digitized. I created descriptions for all the undigitized content as well, so people will be able to locate and access everything, whether it’s digitized or not. One item shown in the viewing that I loved, was the ASARCO demolition. I loved that Spencer was able to edit in this footage as a highlight of the screening. Something that I thought was worthwhile, but not included was a video of President JFK at Cheney Stadium. In the future once everything is uploaded, you will be able to view material like this."

We look forward to uploading the entire collection to our ORCA online database in the near future, making it accessible to all.

We are immensely thankful for the City of Tacoma’s generous support through the City of Tacoma Heritage Grant!

Tacoma in Motion: A Showcase of Moving Images from the Northwest Room's Collections