The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
National Air and Space Frisbee Festival
Recently the Archives was contacted by Mark Silverschotz, formerly Ultimate Frisbee player at Columbia University and then law student at Georgetown, was among the dozens of staff instructors recruited by Larry Schindel, founder of the Washington Area Frisbee Club. Silverschotz was interested in looking for images of himself and his friends during the 1978 Frisbee Festival on the Mall.
Not ever hearing of the event I had to do some research through our green negative log books and I was fascinated to see that the Archives had 38 rolls of film from just the 1970’s.
Sponsored by the National Air and Space Museum, the festival included exhibitions of disc tricks and moves by disc champions, both human and canine alike. Also during the festival, workshops were held to help show Frisbee enthusiast, young and old, how to maneuver the small Frisbee discs.
Silverschotz’s was kind enough to provide me with his recollection of the 1978 festival:
What was great about the 1978 festival, other than seeing Apollo 11's Mike Collins hanging out with a bunch of Ultimate players, was the chance to reconnect with people from the larger Frisbee community. And to give disc sports an air of legitimacy. One somewhat controversial aspect of the event was an effort by some to focus on the 'non-competitive" nature of simple Frisbee tossing. But the Ultimate players would have none of that, and successfully insisted on conducting a robust demonstration game. On the freestyle side of things, Erwin and Jens Velasquez, then reigning 'freestyle" champions gave a rousing demonstration of their skills. What was most fun, however, was when the instructors broke off from the group, each finding a dozen or so 'civilians' who wanted to improve their disc throwing technique. All in all, it was a great event.
- Accession 11-009 - Smithsonian Photographic Services, Photographic Collection, 1971-2006, Smithsonian Institution Archives