Preserving Rowing History

     Our story is below. We continue apace on our mission to collect, curate and preserve rowing history through film, photographs and memorabilia. The only thing that keeps us from being able to curate, restore and share even more is the expense involved. Thank you for your support in the past and thank you in advance for your continued support. After a "slow" summer (mostly busy producing a big video on the 70-year history of Green Lake Crew (see it on our website or Facebook page), we're gearing up for a busy fall and winter. We have just finished restoring and digitizing the amazing video above, "Sweeping Oars" from 1943, and we have lots more in the hopper. Thanks to your support we will be bringing lots more historic rowing to you in the next few (cold!) months.

     Rowing Archives is a nonprofit  dedicated to preserving the history of the sport of rowing. We launched the organization in 2016 after discovering some astonishing films, photos, journals and memorabilia from the 1936 Olympic crew (the "Boys in the Boat") from the family of their coach, Alvin M. Ulbrickson, the head rowing coach at the University of Washington from 1928-1958.
     Included in their collection were three reels of film of that 1936 crew that had never been made public. There were nearly eight minutes of footage of them practicing in Seattle, Poughkeepsie, and Berlin. It is probably the most significant footage of an important crew in the pre-WWII era. We provided some clips (see above video) to the PBS documentary "The Boys of 1936" and we have allowed it to be used in another documentary that will generate a major donation to the Joe Rantz Memorial Boathouse with it as well.
     Since then we have uncovered more rare materials from individuals and organizations and the need for an organization to save and share these treasures became apparent. 
     So far we have amassed documents, films and memorabilia that we are curating, cataloging and preserving for the owners and for the public. Some of these finds will wind up be in museums or on public display at other institutions, and that's a key part of our mission: to find the right permanent homes for the most valuable and significant items. Others will resume their treasured place in family collections. But we will have preserved and duplicated everything so it will always be available to future generations.
     Just a few of the films we'll be able to digitize, edit and share with a new round of donations: George Pocock rowing down the Thames river; the 1977 Grand Challenge Cup at Henley and the '77 U.W. crew training in Seattle; the undefeated 1941 U.W. crew with Hall-of-famer Ted Garhart; more reels of the 1956 Olympics; the 1950 I.R.A. Regatta; the 1946 Lake Washington Regatta; and much more! UPDATE: We've been able to digitize about half of these so far, check out the website and Facebook page!
     It's time consuming and expensive to collect, organize, curate, preserve, copy, digitize and disseminate these materials. They are decaying every day and must be saved now. 
     To date we have used funds raised to buy a high-quality scanner (we still need a better one to process films, slides and negatives), curated and catalogued hundreds of photos and documents, and digitized and enhanced films from 1936, 1956 and 1958.
     Once footage is digitized and enhanced, it still must be edited, packaged, cataloged and identified, which is a laborious and expensive process. It will very soon become an archive of significant historical importance and a permanent reference for our sport. 
     This a new video from an amazing reel of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics from the Pocock Family Collection: the Coxless Fours, won in dominant fashion by Canada. We have edited the other events, which are posted on our Facebook page and provisional website.
     The main goal is to preserve these materials and share them with the world. We intend to provide preserve the originals and provide copies to organizations, museums, universities, researchers... anyone interested in our rowing history. We are working in collaboration with the George Pocock Foundation,  UW Library's Special Collections Division, Washington Rowing, and Eric Cohen's history website.
     The funds we raise will cover expenses such as photo restoration and high-resolution scanning; preservation and digitization of films; preservation and scanning of letters, documents and other paper memorabilia; research expenses; storage; and other expenses related to saving and sharing this wealth of information, including launching and maintaining a website and social media pages. 
     We have a website at that is still waiting for a redesign and rebuild (another thing we need to pay for), which will be a virtual museum for all of our materials. For now we are using our Facebook page to post items of interest and new discoveries: 
     And, of course, in addition to financial support, if you have any historic rowing-related materials from your rowing career or that of your parents or grandparents, we're most interested in helping you save, preserve and share them. Please email us with details and we'll give you the best advice we can on how to best preserve your materials.

We welcome offline donations as well. Please send to:
Rowing Archives
PO Box 99715
Seattle WA 98139-0715

Thanks for your support!

Donations (0)

  • Dean Tarbill 
    • $150 
    • 9 mos
  • Paul Julien 
    • $150 
    • 9 mos
  • Larry Burgher 
    • $100 
    • 9 mos
  • Denis Sullivan 
    • $250 
    • 9 mos
  • Dr CJD George 
    • $40 
    • 10 mos
See all


Lenville O'Donnell 
Seattle, WA
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