Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Do you remember Whittaker Memorial Hospital? Might want to check out this forum

Whittaker Memorial Hospital. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of the Newport News Public Library)
Whittaker Memorial Hospital. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of the Newport News Public Library)

The Newport News Public Library is looking for people who have memories of the Whittaker Memorial Hospital. It’s for a documentary series about the southeast community.

Those interested in sharing their memories, stories and photographs are encouraged to attend a forum at the Pearl Bailey Library on Saturday.

The event is open to the public and no registration is required to attend.

Jillian Wagner, a senior librarian at the Main Street branch of Newport News Public Library, is part of a team working on the initiative called Say It Loud: A Salute to the Southeast Community.

The Whittaker Hospital documentary is part of that initiative to document the socio-political history of the community and is the first of a five-part series about the southeast community, according to the news release. Each segment will be 10 minutes in length and the entire documentary series is expected to be complete in late 2021.

“It was just an interesting story that we felt would make a really good documentary,” Wagner said.

She added she felt there were only a handful of African-American hospitals in the country and there wasn’t a lot of documentation of the history of the community to begin with.

The Whittaker Memorial Hospital documentary is the second phase of the initiative the library has done.

The first phrase was an exhibit in February 2019 titled “Say it Loud: A Salute to Heroes of the Southeast Community” which featured 12 residents from the area including C. Waldo Scott.

Other initiatives are creating a Wall of Fame to salute the 36 heroes and local activists of the community, a digital library of historically significant people and places, a digital compilation of historical maps documenting streets, neighborhoods and inter-community travel and mini documentaries about Huntington High School, the Faith Community, Jessie Rattley, the first African-American mayor of Newport News and the politics of consolidation, according to the project’s description.

While the library is looking for people with a direct connection to the Whittaker Memorial Hospital such as patients, nurses, doctors, administrators and custodial workers, Wagner said they are looking for anyone with a story to tell.

People who had family members that worked or had a memory of the hospital can speak on behalf of the relative, Wagner said.

“We are actually expecting that to be the case,” she said.

Departure Point Films will help create the documentary.

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Filming is expected to start in late February to early March and the first part of the documentary will be ready to view by April of this year.

“We will probably have some sort of viewing event at the library,” Wagner said.

Interested in sharing your memories about Whittaker Memorial Hospital? The Whittaker Memorial Hospital Documentary forum is at the Pearl Bailey Library, 2510 Wickham Ave., on Jan. 11 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Those who are selected for the documentary will have a short, intake interview about their story.

For more information about the initiative, visit the Newport News Public Libraries website.

Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsiglianohttp://wydaily.com
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to julia@localvoicemedia.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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