In addition to building our archive, one of our main goals is to create documentaries based on oral history interviews in order to tell stories of particular interest to both local and national audiences. We completed our first documentary, Nightmare in New Guinea, in 2006, and have shown it to live audiences in Grand Rapids, Holland, Muskegon, Kalamazoo, Lowell and Allendale, and it has aired on WGVU/WGVK television in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. The documentary tells the story of the men from West Michigan who served in the 126th Infantry Regiment, 32nd “Red Arrow” Division, during World War II, focusing on their experiences in the National Guard, their training experiences, and above all their service in the jungles of New Guinea in 1942, where they were the first Americans on the island and found themselves battling terrain, climate and disease in addition to the Japanese.
We also supported a second documentary project, consulting with Clear Vision Films of Muskegon, Michigan, in the production of Up from the Bottoms, an account of African American migration to Muskegon during the World War II era, when people came up from the south in search of better wages and a better life, encountering both successes and disappointments in the process. The documentary is based upon the oral histories of participants in the migration, and is narrated by actress Cicely Tyson. For information on the documentary and planned screenings and television airings, go to: www.upfromthebottoms.com.