2018: Year of the Veteran

Please enjoy this four minute video which explains our intentions for 2018!

Dutchess County’s Part in the World War 1917-1919:
Stories remain to be told

Stories remain to be told

The gathering and publishing of the stories of New York State’s men and women during the “World War” was  felt to be so important that in 1919 that the Governor and Legislature passed laws to publish historical volumes. And they created and installed the formal function of the municipal historian that we know today. While very earnestly begun, the book volumes were never published.

NYS Historian James Sullivan explained in 1920, “The Legislature at its session of 1919 directed this Division to prepare several volumes on ‘New York’s Part in the World War.’ For the purpose of getting a full account of what each town, incorporated village and city did in the way of contributing men, subscriptions to loans etc. The executive officers of those political units we’re authorized by an act of the same year to appoint local historians (with remuneration if the local board saw fit) to gather the necessary information and forward it here to Albany.”

The Dutchess County Historical Society which had only recently been formed in 1914 was called on by important leaders like Major Joel Spingarn of Amenia to be active in supporting the broad effort. He, too, called for going beyond a list of men in service overseas to activities at home that would have included bond drives, the Red Cross activities, and programs like the Farm Cadet program that enlisted high school boys and girls in farming to free up “”able men” to go overseas.

Today, Dutchess County municipal historians and historical societies at a county and local level are working to close that gap to some degree, but in a more contemporary way than printed volumes. In November 2017, under a joint declaration between the County government and County Historical Society, the program “2018: The Year of the Veteran” in Dutchess County was officially launched.


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Major Components

All involve a highly collaborative mix from local sources, individuals and organizations.

Large-scale graphic presentation of photographs, letters

FDR Library Exhibition

Portable Panels will be featured at The Wallace Center at the FDR Presidential Museum in May 2018, at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in August, and travel town to town outside of those times. A large component of this exhibition involve photos taken largely between 1917 and 1919 by local professional photographer Ruben Van Vlack of local parades, before and after his service in France. They were donated  to DCHS in 1981 by C Fred Close, a WWI Purple Heart veteran and County Sheriff for 25 years.

Physical, dimensional objects, memorabilia

Physical objects and memorabilia will be set up on the first floor of the Dutchess County Office Building courtesy of the County Clerk.

Permanent online exhibition

County and town counterparts are working together to create a permanent online exhibition of photographs, letters, documents, newspaper clippings from the cities, towns, and villages of Dutchess County relating to “World War.”

Oral Histories

A major dimension of the program lives largely online, and  is a permanent, continually growing archive of veterans’ stories of all wars of all time. This is where the Oral History program will live, a very significant and active component over the next year. Living veterans are invited to participate in the Oral History program , including carefully gathered oral histories. We are expanding on the work done by Bard College’s Gretta Tritch Roman in her work with students in the development of a Mobil History Van.

Memorials Inventory

As part of the development of the permanent online exhibition, individuals in each city town and village are documenting any and all memorials dedicated at the time.

Online exhibitions by locale

Where there is a link below, you’ll find the beginning of what we hope will be a permanent and growing exhibition of stories related to WWI for each city, town and village in equal partnership with local historians, historical societies and individuals. This is just the start of a long-term project! Blank spaces are our opportunity for the future! Do you want to help out?







East Fishkill



Hyde Park



North East


Pine Plains

Pleasant Valley




Red Hook



Union Vale




2018: The Year of the Veteran in Dutchess County was launched at the FDR Presidential Library’s Wallace Center on November 4th, at the annual Veterans Appreciation Day in a joint announcement by the Dutchess County Historical Society and Dutchess County Executive, Director of Veterans Affairs and Historian.


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