By Theo Mayer
Google Arts & Culture is a non-commercial initiative from Google that puts the treasures, stories and knowledge of over 2,000 cultural institutions from 80 countries at everyone’s fingertips and the Doughboy Foundation is honored to be among them.
If Google’s mission is to make the world’s information more accessible, then Arts & Culture’s mission is to make the world’s culture accessible to anyone, anywhere. It’s a unique doorway to explore art, history, and wonders of the world.
Earlier in the spring of 2022, the Doughboy Foundation officially became a “Google Arts & Culture” partner focusing on the platform’s unique storytelling capabilities.
Goal #1 was to launch our first “story” on the platform in time for Juneteenth.
Archival newsreel footage from the National Archives was used to create a newsreel style story of the homecoming and parade.
It is the story of the Feb. 1919, Hoboken New Jersey, WWI homecoming of the “Harlem Hellfighters” and their famous 369th Infantry Regimental Band. Led by one of the most famous band leaders of the time, James Reese Europe, they introduced syncopated rhythms, ragtime, big band & jazz to thunderstruck audiences all over Europe.
Using extremely high resolution scans from the War Department’s original file cards from the National Archives, the story goes on to talk about the incredible victory parade which New York City held for the 369th down 5th Ave. upon their return from fighting with distinction and honor in France. It was a very special moment, followed by the reality that these young men were returning to a Jim Crow America and the terrible post WWI racial tensions that followed.
We decided that providing the entire War Department image card with its annotations rather than just the image would provide its own cultural insights.
A century later, the tireless determination, promotion and vision of Ms. Stephanie Neal brought a tribute band – the “369th Experience” into existence. The 369th Experience has revived the spirit of that famous 369th Regimental Band selecting talented young musicians from HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) around the country.
The story includes some performance footage of the 369th Experience with the striking realization that these 21st century young men were the same age as those who went “Over There” a little over a century ago.
It is a great WWI story and fits perfectly into the Google Arts & Culture mix. We invite you to our newly launched Google Arts & Culture site and encourage you to dig into the self-guided interactive story with its historical archival footage, still images and contemporary performance by the 369th Experience.
Our next story, now in production, focuses on the international design competition for the new National WWI Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Rather than inviting a few select architects to bid on the design, the project was thrown open to the entire world. Anyone could submit their idea. Over 350 concepts were submitted, 5 were chosen as finalists, with the winning design submitted by a then young architect in training, Joe Weishaar, who had partnered with classicist sculptor Sabin Howard.
As a part of this story, we will be publishing every submission received. The public has not had the opportunity to explore this archive of imagination that came from both world-famous architects and middle school history classes. It is a wonderful tribute to the human imagination, and we are excited to bring it to you. There were definite “types” of submissions including a plethora of ideas of turning the Memorial into experiential trenches. Following are some of the other types of submissions.
Here are some samples of the submission types
Example of one of the “classic design” submissions
Example of one of the “simple design” submissions presumably from a young student
Example of one of the “grand structure” design submissions
Example of one of the “special visual effects” design submissions
Example of one of the “massive object” design submissions
We will keep you updated through Dispatch and other mailings as new sections and stories are published on the Doughboy Foundation section of the Google Arts & Culture site.