Nina McCulloch Mattern

Grandmother and Grandaughter

The story of Poughkeepsie-born Nina McCullough Mattern is equally about her Clinton-born grandmother, Ophelia Shadbolt Amigh.

Sometimes it feels like you are chasing and researching and hoping to find a story but just can't find the facts. Sometimes, as in this case, it is the complete opposite, and the story reaches out. In this instance, that happened on two different occasions and in two different ways.

Someone cleaning out an apartment found a hand-crafted photo album with poetry and chose to send it to DCHS in 2018, rather than throw out, as they confessed they nearly did! It arrived in our PO Box in 2017 with no advance notice. The author/creator of the book turned out to be one of the county's most prominent women activists for women's suffrage. She died during the global flu pandemic of 1918. This scrapbook is a testimony to Nina's gratitude for her grandmother's inspiration. Her grandmother, Amy Shadbolt Amigh, was a nationally known leader of, and advocate for, the education, health and safety of young girls.

Secondly. we were contacted in 2019 by a film student who notified us that the Eastman Museum in Rochester had restored a 4-minute 1917 WWI training film (silent, of course) and they were hoping to identify the women. There were indications that they women were from Dutchess County. Indeed they were. None other than Nina McCullough Mattern, the creator of the scrapbook who was unknown to us until we received that gift, was featured in the movie with her sister. Both women are in important part of the "2020 Focus: Women's Voices & Talents" program.

Kinks In Canning Clips 1917

John Randolph Bray was a e pioneer in the field of animated films before Walt Disney was known. He received a contract from the US Government to develop training films for WWI for national distribution. This 4-minute training film was filmed in April of 1917 at Bray's farm in Highland, across the Hudson River from Poughkeepsie. It features women who were pioneers in NY State, if not the country, in developing training on the topic of food canning and storage.  Featured are a Poughkeepsie teacher, Sarah Kirby (with hat) and Nina McCulloch Mattern (darker grey dress). in the second photo above, the other two individuals are Mattern's sister Ruth McCulloch and it is possible that the woman greeting them at the table, and saying farewell as they prepare to drive off is the wife of Bray.

Nina McCulloch Mattern was a highly visible and successful advocate for women's suffrage who added war efforts to her suffrage advocacy. With permission, Eastman Museum. No reproduction of these images without written consent from Eastman Museum, Rochester. NY.


Well known activist grandmother Ophelia Amigh Shadbolt