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Libraries Complete Digitization of 1963 Campus Film

WashU Libraries have completed the preservation and digitization of the short film Once Upon a Hill…There was a School! (1963) in University Archives. This preservation project was completed with the financial support of a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF). Colorlab conducted the digitization and photochemical processing of the film.

WashU’s Radio, Television, and Film Office, under the direction of Richard Hartzell, hired Canadian filmmaker and actor Martin Lavut to direct the short film. The film follows students throughout their day as they wake up in their dorms, flirt over breakfast at a raucous cafeteria, are excited and confounded by a professor’s lecture, study in the new Olin library, and engage in student activities like judo. It is equal parts a subjective view of the exhilarating experience of campus life from the students’ vantage point and a clinical outsider analysis of the average American college student. 

A lion gargoyle on a stone wall with the inscription," Once Upon a hill there was a School."

Congress established the NFPF to help preserve the nation’s film heritage. In 2023, it awarded the Washington University Libraries a Basic Preservation grant of $3,513 to pay for the photochemical preservation of the Once Upon a Hill…There was a School! film.

We are excited to have this film available to share with patrons. It is a great snapshot of campus life in 1963.

Watch for more information about a film screening on campus in the fall of 2024. To learn more about the film, you can read the article about the grant award.

For more information about the preservation project, contact Andy Uhrich, curator of Film & Media. For information about the film and University Archives, contact University Archivist Sonya Rooney.

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About the Author

Sonya Rooney
Job Title
University Archivist