Feb 4, 2016
Community Engagement

Virginia Folklife Program Partners with Google Cultural Institute to Bring One-of-a-Kind Eastern Virginia Gospel Recordings Online

Charlottesville, VA – Starting this week, more than 180 artifacts from the Virginia Folklife Program at Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH) can be viewed online by people around the world thanks to a new partnership with the Google Cultural Institute. The project is part of Google’s work to preserve and celebrate Black history, arts, and culture, making these important archives publicly accessible. Online visitors can now discover more than 80 interactive exhibits, curated by experts at the Virginia Folklife Program, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and other organizations.

The Virginia Folklife Program’s virtual exhibit entitled Eastern Virginia Gospel, viewable online here, connects viewers worldwide with some of the Commonwealth’s most unique gospel treasures in just a few clicks. Key elements of the exhibit include:

  • National Heritage Fellows The Paschall Brothers’ legacy explored through twenty years of photographs and recordings featuring never-before-seen concert footage of the Tidewater quartet.
  • Selections from the late “Gospel Queen of Richmond” Maggie Ingram’s family audio archive, including “I Come to the Garden,” a unique recording that strays from the better-known and more raucous gospel tunes of Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes.
  • “Put Me Down Easy: The Charlie McClendon Story,” a 30-minute documentary feature exploring racial relations in the Tidewater region of Virginia through R&B music of the 1960s.

In the exhibit, rare recordings from the archives of the late evangelist Rev. Maggie Ingram are paired with a family history by Richmond-based journalist Don Harrison and photo and video assets from the Virginia Folklife Program archive. “Maggie is a national treasure, not just in her interpretations of gospel standards and spirituals, but also in her own compositions. She’s one of the great writers of gospel music,” said Jon Lohman, Virginia State Folklorist and director of the Virginia Folklife Program at VFH. “Through Maggie’s story and others, this exhibit will shed light on the largely unknown significance of Richmond, Hampton Roads, and Norfolk to the development of the gospel music tradition. The Google Cultural Institute’s recognition of these individuals as great American artists is an exciting opportunity and invitation for further exploration.”

About the Virginia Folklife Program: The Virginia Folklife Program, a public program of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, is dedicated to the documentation, presentation, and support of Virginia’s rich cultural heritage. Sung or told, handcrafted or performed, Virginia’s folklife refers to those “arts of everyday life” that reflect a sense of traditional knowledge and connection to community. For more information, visit VirginiaFolklife.org.

About Google Cultural Institute: The Google Cultural Institute and its partners are putting the world’s cultural treasures at the fingertips of Internet users and are building tools that allow the cultural sector to share more of its diverse heritage online. The Google Cultural Institute has partnered with more than 1,000 institutions giving a platform to over 250,000 thousand artworks and a total of 6 million photos, videos, manuscripts and other documents of art, culture and history. Read more here.

About VFH: The mission of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities is to connect people and ideas to explore the human experience and inspire cultural engagement. VFH reaches an estimated annual audience of 23 million through the Center for the Book, Community Programs, Digital Initiatives, and Scholarship. For more information, visit VirginiaHumanities.org.


Maggie Guggenheimer
Assistant to the President and Communications Officer
Virginia Foundation for the Humanities
Virginia Historical Society