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

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Van Vlack Photos
FDR Library & Traveling Exhibition

Online exhibitions by city, town, village

Preserving veterans’ stories


County-wide WWI Veterans List Sep 1919 Poughkeepsie Eagle News
Copies of corresondence by town in response to NYS Historian 1919-1924

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.

Two exhibitions: Physical and Online

For “2018: Year of the Veteran” DCHS is developing two types of exhibitions, one physical  — but moveable. And one fully online. The later being a highly collaborative mix from local sources, individuals and organizations.

There is a mobile, traveling exhibition of 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 WWIPurple Heart veteran and County Sheriff for 25 years. This exhibition will be launched at the Wallace Center at the FDR Presidential Library and Museum in May 2018. And will then travel town to town.

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.

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The photographs of Reuben Van Vlack

This exhibition is in development, we are currently having glass plate negatives carefully cleaned and turned into digital files. As with most glass negatives from the period the resolution is extraordinary.

FDR Library and traveling exhibition

This exhibition is in development for May 2018 and is being designed to be easily portable so it can be used by interested persons and organizations over time. Contact us if you are interested in displaying it, perhaps along with your own exhibition pieces.

FDR Library Exhibition

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



Oral histories gathering

We are working with the Bard College and their Mobile History Van to collect and share the thoughts and experiences of the veterans of Dutchess County.  These stories are an important part of our shared local history and will provide invaluable insights into the contributions and sacrifices made by the men and women who have served our country. Veterans can schedule a time or get more information by contacting us or using this online form.


Further reading and context from the time

The 1919 American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society’s report to the New York State legislature provided over 100 pages of wide-ranging information from facts from the field, to descriptions of activities at home from the Red Cross to the size of headlines in local newspapers, to the impact of Theodore Roosevelt’s plea to alter the course of the standard-practice plan to return his son’s remains home and allow him to rest where he fell in France. It concludes with recommendations on creating local memorials.

A 1920 proposed syllabus for elementary school civics and patriotism shows how the volumes “New York’s Part in the World War” would fit into plans for education, grooming and motivation for young Americans.

In 1922 the NYS Adjutant General rp published what they considered to be a full report of all New York citizens who gave their lives in service to the United States in the war.

Am. Scenic and Historic Pres. Soc. 1919

As transmitted to NYS Legislature.

1920 NY Elementary School Syllabus

Extracts related to civics and patriotism


1922 Report of the NYS Adjutant General

Citizens of News York who gave their lives


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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