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New Podcast Explores Pacific Northwest Women Filmmakers

(SEATTLE, WA - June 14, 2021) - The University of Washington Libraries' Special Collections has launched a new limited four-part podcast series. Beyond Scope and Content: Hidden Histories from the Film Archive tells the story of three prolific and talented women filmmakers who bring the compelling visual history of the Pacific Northwest to life: Doris ChaseRuth Kirk, and Jean Walkinshaw. The podcast is hosted Hannah Palin, Moving Image Curator with University of Washington Libraries’ Special Collections.

The podcast series features film clips, oral histories, and interviews. Palin moves beyond the dry biographies and sterile scope and content notes typically included in archival records, taking a deep dive into each of the filmmakers’ work.

“These artists have been overlooked or have faded from our collective memory, but their work is sophisticated, passionate, and definitely worth watching. Once you learn more about these incredible women’s stories, you will want to go watch their films,” says Palin.

Three of the UW Special Collections largest film collections belong to these filmmakers. All three of them have deep ties to the Pacific Northwest and they were creating from the 1960s through the 1990s. Doris Chase was an American painter, sculptor and video artist who was steadfastly true to herself and to her vision.  Ruth Kirk was a writer and photographer. She made films and television programs with her husband Louis, exploring the wonders of the natural world. Her work also documented an archeological dig at Neah Bay and the intricate relationship between the Makah and the scientists working on the decades-long excavation. Jean Walkinshaw, now in her nineties, was an award-winning television producer who spent her career profiling important cultural figures from the Pacific Northwest, such as Tom Robbins, George Tsutakawa, Guy Anderson and Roberta Byrd.

Host Palin conceived of the podcast early on during the COVID shutdown after taking an online class on podcasting for libraries. She developed the podcast in collaboration with graduate Sarah Meidl, who at the time was completing the second year of her MLIS degree at the University of Washington’s Information School. Meidl helped create workflows that will enable the project to continue in the future. She says the work of the filmmakers “encompass the spirit of the Northwest and the videos themselves testify to the strength of these women in creating films, videos, and television programs at a time when women were not recognized for their work."

UW Libraries’ Special Collections is home to nearly 300 film and videotape collections, covering a variety of formats from 35mm film to 2” Quad videotape including home movies, educational films, documentaries, video art, and local television news. The film archive reflects the visual history of the Pacific Northwest, as well as audiovisual materials that support the research interests of students and faculty across the UW.

Films from the Ruth and Louis Kirk Moving Image Collection are available on the University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections site, and works from the Doris Chase video and art collection are available on the Internet Archive. Most of Jean Walkinshaw’s work was recently added to the Archives of American Public Broadcasting and can be viewed there.

Beyond Scope and Content: Hidden Histories of the Film Archive was funded by a generous grant from the University of Washington Friends of the Library and is available on Spotify, Anchor, and Apple Podcasts.

Media contact:

Sandy Hawley, UW Libraries Director of Communications