In the aftermath of World War I, thousands of historically, artistically, and architecturally significant memorials were dedicated throughout the United States. The centennial of the Great War provides an opportune moment to recognize these largely forgotten memorials and their very purpose–to honor in perpetuity the more than four million Americans who served in the war and the more than 116,000 who died. The World War I Memorial Inventory Project, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, is a formal partner of the Congressionally mandated United States World War I Centennial Commission and has been identified as one of the Commission’s priority programs for the Centennial period (2014-2018).
The World War I Memorial Inventory Project (WWIMIP) and “Monuments Inspector” Mobile Application will enable the public to participate directly in locating, documenting, and providing a preliminary condition assessment of all of the World War I memorials and monuments in the United States. Numbering in the thousands, and ranging from simple to grandiose, these memorials blanket the American landscape but are largely overlooked and often in poor condition. The app, database, and website will be instrumental in contributing to the memorials’ physical and cultural rehabilitation and will provide a replicable model for similar cultural heritage and resource documentation projects. The WWIMIP will also offer an unparalleled opportunity to educate Americans–especially schoolchildren–about the historic significance of the First World War.
The mission of the WWIMIP is to assemble a comprehensive, searchable online database of these memorials which will promote their appreciation, interpretation, and long-term preservation. Through crowdsourcing, the “Monuments Inspector” mobile app will allow users to gather photographs, locations and conditions of WWI memorials; use the mobile device, built-in GPS to geotag the sites; and upload photographs and site documentation to the WWIMIP database using a guided protocol. The app will provide tourists, students, and researchers with a map interface to locate identified memorials and to search for veterans names. Social media integration will enable users to share feedback and photographs, as well as encourage colleagues, friends and family to participate in the WWIMIP and to visit the sites. Following best practices for historic site documentation, the app will facilitate capturing standardized metadata including memorial type, measurements, artist/architect, materials, and foundry.
Each memorial has a story to tell, but sadly, many have fallen into disrepair through neglect, vandalism or theft. Some have disappeared entirely. The WWIMIP will bring to life these memorials through 3D models and imagery, and share their stories, especially with those individuals who may not be able to visit them in person.