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So far Yvonne has created 602 blog entries.

The Poughkeepsie Yacht Club

by Shannon Butler The weather is steadily improving, making the river look more and more appealing. If you have even been sailing, you know how lovely it can be and how it almost transports you back in time. If we go back to the early days of New York, sailing was the fastest way to get from one place to another along the Hudson River and it was the main source of transportation of just about all materials. Today, we certainly have faster ways of getting goods and people around, so for the most part, sailing is a hobby for most and a passion for a few. In 1892, a few workers from Poughkeepsie were sailing a sloop named Beatrice when they decided to create a club that focused solely on the sailing of yachts. During this particular river outing, the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club was born. Within months of creating their club, the men established themselves on a dock that was owned by the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, which they leased for $25 a year. They built the first clubhouse near the site of what was once a shipyard during the American Revolution. Races and regattas were becoming [...]

The Poughkeepsie Yacht Club2023-10-19T15:36:30-04:00

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – 140 Academy Street

by Shannon Butler For those of you who missed our recent program on historic houses of the Hudson Valley: fear not! You can find it on our YouTube page, along with many of our other programs and documentaries. For this week's local history blog, we will discuss one of the houses from the talk that has been lost to history. When we first came across this unmarked photograph in our collection, we didn't think that it was from Poughkeepsie at all. It looked like something out of an English countryside. But as it turns out, this house once stood alongside the other great and unique houses that line Academy Street. This estate started out as the home of New York Supreme Court Justice Joseph F. Barnard. Joseph was born in 1823 on a farm just north of Poughkeepsie. His father had been a whaler in Nantucket, but came to the Hudson Valley in the early 1800s. By 1836, his father sold the farm and moved the family into the City of Poughkeepsie, where they lived at #47 Cannon Street. Joseph prepared for college at the Dutchess County Academy and went on to graduate from Yale in 1841. He was admitted to [...]

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – 140 Academy Street2023-10-19T15:35:40-04:00

The Icing On The Cake: Chocolate Fudge Frosting

by Bridget O'Donnell We've all heard or read food studies suggesting what a healthy lifestyle is or isn’t. "One week we're told to avoid a product at all cost; the next week it seems it's not so bad after all, or even healthful in moderation…" (Vegetarian Times, April 1998; e-magazine also available through the MHLS Overdrive app). Just try avoiding the latest diet trends inundating the media. They're everywhere, from new book releases to YouTube videos and pop-up advertisements on the internet. Everything in moderation, unless it isn't, right? Purchase new appliances and welcome overhauled comfort foods back into your diet. In half the time, prepare a home-cooked meal while also improving your longevity and quality of life. Notice how restaurants creatively observe food preferences, allergies, and intolerances. They pioneer these trends as they [continue to] acknowledge the growing need to substitute/omit ingredients and flip menus employing healthy [seasonal] alternatives and nutritional information. Today our food works overtime, repurposed not only to focus on what tastes good and address age-old health issues and weight loss, but to support availability (pre-/post-pandemic), sustainability and locally sourced [artisan] craft. If any of this resonates with you or motivates you to change your diet and [...]

The Icing On The Cake: Chocolate Fudge Frosting2023-08-17T16:06:47-04:00

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – Glen Eden School

by Shannon Butler As you might have read in previous blog entries, lots of interesting buildings that once stood in Poughkeepsie have now been lost to time. You are most likely also aware of the fact that Poughkeepsie had several schools and seminaries. (Heads up: we'll run a program about that later on this year, stay tuned!) Just a few weeks ago, we looked at the Lyndon Hall School for Girls. This week, we will examine yet another: the Glen Eden School. Dr. Frederic Martin Townsend served as a principal for a school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and wanted to continue his work under the auspices of the Episcopal church. He made his way into Poughkeepsie, where he expressed interest in purchasing Miss Eleanor Shackleford's school known as St. Faith's School. Miss Shackleford had transformed the mansion of John F. Hume, which was located on Washington Street, into a school back in 1904. By 1910, Townsend came in with his own idea for a school which he called the Glen Eden School. As with many of the local girls' schools, this institution was designed to serve as part finishing school and part college prep. The school offered classes in the major languages [...]

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – Glen Eden School2023-10-19T15:34:36-04:00

Poughkeepsie Architecture: The New York State Armory

by Shannon Butler We've all driven or walked past it: a giant red castle that appears on top of the hill as you enter the city of Poughkeepsie from the west. It looks like something from another century, and like many of the old buildings of Poughkeepsie, it is! The New York State Armory was once the starting point for soldiers who were heading off to war. Over a century after its construction, it now serves as a place of worship, but the building has witnessed and hosted various occasions over the years, from sporting events to parties. The armory, as author Nancy Todd put it, "had three basic functions, they served as military facilities, clubhouses, and public monuments." Ours has gone on to do even more. The building was designed by Isaac G. Perry, who had quite the resume when it came to New York State architecture. Perry would ultimately be responsible for designing 27 armories, as well as the State Capitol in Albany. When it comes to State armories, they all tend to have a similar design: part drilling shed (where the soldiers do drills) and part administrative offices (where the paperwork gets done). They are meant to appear [...]

Poughkeepsie Architecture: The New York State Armory2023-10-19T15:03:12-04:00

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – The Pringle Home

by Shannon Butler This week, we investigate the Pringle Home as we continue to look at interesting buildings of Poughkeepsie that are no longer standing. Before we begin, let' s answer the thought that just popped into some of your minds by saying: no, it's not the home of the delicious potato chips (disappointing, we know). Actually, it has a much more sentimental value than a tasty sour cream and onion crisp. The home was the creation of a trio of loving siblings. They were devoted to each other and to the idea that men in their elder years should be able to retire in peace, comfort, and dignity. So began the story of "The Pringle Home for Aged Literary Men." Margaret, Samuel, and Mulligan Pringle all lived in New York City in the early 1800s. Margaret married David Fenton and the two had no children; they lived a very frugal life in Greenwich Village, surrounded by writers, artists, and musicians. Her brothers both worked hard in their lives and neither ever married or produced any children. When her brother Mulligan retired in his later years, he had no place in which to grow old, no one to care for him, [...]

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – The Pringle Home2023-10-19T15:02:36-04:00

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – Lincoln Center

by Shannon Butler How many of you remember spending a day at Lincoln Center? Perhaps you enjoyed playing basketball or cooling off in the wading pool? Did you attend any classes in woodworking or weaving? Or maybe you joined up with the drum corps or rhythm band? The south side of Poughkeepsie was quite fortunate to have a place where kids could go to learn, play, and connect with their community in a positive way. For over 40 years, Lincoln Center was a place that felt like home to many, and it inspired the young people of Poughkeepsie to be better and to do good works. The idea for such a place started off with the desire for students and staff at Vassar College to become more engaged with the community. It was 1917 when a group of students first created a play group for local children. The timing was right, as there was certainly a need for a safe place for children to be and the poor side of Poughkeepsie began to become more obvious and more defined. Within a year of its creation, the flu epidemic broke out and Lincoln Center (which was then renting a small space on [...]

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – Lincoln Center2023-10-19T15:01:57-04:00

Art in Poughkeepsie: The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center

by Shannon Butler If you’re like us, you have seriously missed going out to museums and art galleries. However, things are slowly beginning to open up and we have a fabulous teaching museum/art gallery right here in Poughkeepsie that will both inspire and educate at the same time. They even have a wonderful new exhibit which showcases women in the world of art. “Women Picturing Women'' is currently on view at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, from now until June 13th, and as you may have read in a previous blog post, the gallery has a truly great history of collecting some amazing art. The museum began when Matthew Vassar purchased a massive collection from the Rev. Elias Magoon, in the 1860s. This collection focused on the works of the Hudson River School artists like Frederic Church and Asher Durand. This was long before the Metropolitan Museum opened its doors (which was in 1880, by the way). In the report of the committee on the art gallery made in 1864, Rev. Magoon, who served as the chairman of the committee wrote, "Art is diviner than science; the latter discovers, this creates." He went on to explain the [...]

Art in Poughkeepsie: The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center2023-10-19T15:01:21-04:00

One Pot: 120+ Easy Meals From Your Skillet, Slow Cooker, Stockpot, and More…

by Bridget O'Donnell With only so many hours in a day who wouldn’t appreciate cooking a healthy meal in ONE POT on a regular basis? Just think of how economical and practical this approach could be. Save time with meal-planning, -prep and cleanup. Depending on the dish [set a timer/alarm and] multitask while your meal cooks and leave yourself more time to do other things like go outside and enjoy the weather. … Subtly prefaced, our next review introduces One pot: 120+ easy meals from your skillet, slow cooker, stockpot, and more / from the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living. If you don’t already have that ‘go-to-pan’ in the kitchen One Pot can help you pick a favorite while providing a number of backups. Learn a few basics and suggested cooking tips for each of the following cookware: Dutch oven, [Cast iron] Skillet & Sauté pan, Roasting/Sheet pan & Baking dish, Stock pot & Sauce pan, Slow cooker, Pressure/Instant cooker. Flip through pages of deliciously accessible recipes that take less than an hour from start to finish. Good luck deciding what to make first… The Beef Stew with Noodles (on pg.14) recently provided me with a base recipe to repurpose corned [...]

One Pot: 120+ Easy Meals From Your Skillet, Slow Cooker, Stockpot, and More…2023-08-17T16:05:20-04:00

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – Lyndon Hall School

by Shannon Butler Long before the opening of Vassar College, there existed a desire to educate young ladies in the city of Poughkeepsie. As a matter of fact, several schools popped up in the mid-19th century that strongly encouraged a proper education for girls. They included the Poughkeepsie Female Academy, located on Cannon Street, the Mansion Square Female Seminary, and the College Hill Female Seminary. The school we wish to examine today went by a few different names, but lasted longer than the others: the Poughkeepsie Female Collegiate Institute, a.k.a. Cook's Collegiate, a.k.a. Lyndon Hall School. The year was 1848, and small schools had been popping up all over Poughkeepsie. Dr. Charles H.P. McLellan was in the midst of creating a school dedicated to giving young ladies the knowledge to establish themselves as housewives or teachers (which were pretty much the only choices for females in the 19th century). McLellan wanted to create a school that was small and selective, with room enough for some students to live, but also able to cater to those who could commute. The school was located on the corner of Catharine and Mill Streets. It began as a small brick building, which opened in 1849. [...]

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – Lyndon Hall School2023-10-19T15:00:17-04:00

John Burroughs: A Hudson Valley Essayist

by Shannon Butler When the weather starts to warm up (like it seems to be doing right now), we head outdoors. We search for a trail to hike, a stream to fish, or a forest to watch for wildlife. It helps bring us back to life. There is something about the warmth of the sun in the wilderness that refreshes all of the senses. Nobody understood this better than John Burroughs, a 19th century essayist and a Hudson Valley native. Burroughs wrote over 25 books on topics ranging from nature to religion to camping with Theodore Roosevelt! His writing still continues to inspire us today, almost exactly 100 years after his death on March 29, 1921. John Burroughs was born in the Catskills near Roxbury, New York in 1837. It was to this modest farm that he attributed his love of nature. He began his career as a teacher before he published his first piece of writing in the Atlantic Monthly in 1860. By 1864, he found a job at the U.S. Treasury in Washington, D.C. and continued to write from his office there, but his cramped office in the Capitol was nothing like the freedom of the Catskills. In 1873, [...]

John Burroughs: A Hudson Valley Essayist2023-10-19T14:59:41-04:00

What’s in a Name? – Dutchess County

by Shannon Butler Ever wonder how we got the name Dutchess County? It would seem like it has something to do with all of those Dutch settlers based on the way it's spelled. However, as history would have it, the county, along with all of the original counties of New York, was named for the House of Stuart in the 17th century. All the way back in 1683, the legislative assembly of the Province of New York passed an act to divide the land into counties with names like Ulster, Albany, Orange, and of course the county that we are now located in "The Dutchess's County," now simply known as Dutchess County. Though they added a ‘T’ to Duchess in the original spelling (which we haven’t changed) the county was named in the honor of Mary Beatrice d’Este (aka, the Duchess of York, and later Queen Consort of England, Scotland, and Ireland). But why is this area named for someone who never even set foot here? Well, if you look closely at American History, it's quite common to see this. Many of the names of the colonies, like Virginia, named for the Virgin Queen Elizabeth (never visited), or Maryland named for [...]

What’s in a Name? – Dutchess County2023-12-28T15:17:00-05:00

Famous Local History Ladies: Madam Brett

by Shannon Butler “Who run the world? Girls!” as Queen Beyonce says, and who ran things in southern Dutchess county from 1709 until her death in 1764? Why, none other than Catheryna Rombout Brett. Her legacy and her home have stood the test of time, and it's hard to find someone in the Fishkill/Beacon area who doesn’t know that name. But do you really know who Madam Brett was? We don’t have a picture or a painting of her, but she left her mark all over the place. We know she was smart, business savvy, and she certainly must have been brave. We know that she spoke Dutch and English, as her writing tends to be a mix of the two. Let’s take a closer look at one of the area’s famous local history ladies. Most of Dutchess County was wilderness in the late 1600s, but a prosperous man by the name of Frances Rombout (along with two other partners) had managed to purchase a large chunk of land from a local Native American tribe, the Wappingers (about $1,250 for 85,000 acres, which is much more than the so-called $24 for Manhattan). Rumbout did well in trading and political ventures, serving [...]

Famous Local History Ladies: Madam Brett2023-10-19T14:58:18-04:00

Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan

Review by Bridget O'Donnell With a pizza shop on almost every corner it’s hard to say you haven’t tried some version of Italian food while visiting or living in New York. At least here in the Hudson Valley residents and tourists from all walks of life routinely order take-out or find their way to Poughkeepsie’s Little Italy to support restaurants and bakeries established in the Italian district and surrounding area. Attendees nostalgic of Poughkeepsie’s First Friday and Italian Festivals might remember being encouraged to try hand-held variations on more conventional staples while walking past food trucks and pop-ups promoting local venues – like the casual, often inexpensive slice of pizza (my compliments to Naples!). Reservations continue to offer the chance to sit-down and “mangiare” in a Classic family-style setting with traditional entrées complimented by a cocktail or glass of wine, a plate of assorted olives, peppers and cheeses or artisan bread dipped in infused olive oil. And, bravo/brava! if you’re fortunate to have experienced the authentic Italian culture and regional foods while on vacation. (…I can’t decide if I’d like to imagine myself sitting at a café or riding in a gondola while leisurely enjoying a decadent dessert, some glassy gelato [...]

Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan2023-08-25T15:06:13-04:00

An Actress in the Pest House

by Shannon Butler Nobody wants to be considered a pest, especially when your vocation is actually to entertain people with your talent for drama. So when a young actress found herself in the local “pest house” in 1895, newspapers made quite a fuss, and so did local authorities. First, we must determine what exactly a pest house is. To be clear, a pest house is not someplace to store an annoying neighbor or other random individuals. In fact, pest houses were a sign of humans beginning to understand infectious diseases and the need for proper quarantines. Here in Poughkeepsie, there was a pest house on the grounds of Vassar Hospital, where individuals diagnosed with infectious things like cholera or tuberculosis would be placed. 9 year-old actress Lillian Graham was part of the Uncle Tom’s Cabin Company, a traveling troupe performing the famous story in the 1890s. She played the role of Little Eva and was considered to be quite talented. Her mother had been traveling and performing with her, but she suddenly became ill and was left behind in Chicago to recover. When the company arrived in Poughkeepsie, Lillian complained of a sore throat which gradually got worse. Another female member [...]

An Actress in the Pest House2023-10-19T14:57:44-04:00

Landscape Paint and Sip

Recent pics from our Teen Landscape Paint and Sip event. Don't miss out on future events! Sign up for our emails here.

Landscape Paint and Sip2021-03-04T11:44:14-05:00

Versatile Vegetables: The Classic Zucchini Cookbook by Nancy C. Ralston

by Bridget O'Donnell Vegetables are something meat and potato eaters might not think of as versatile - but they’re so much more than carbs! Vegetables are low in fat and calories, have no cholesterol and are an important source of nutrients: including but not limited to dietary fiber, Vitamins A and C, antioxidants, protein and good fat. Some vegetables are water-rich (like bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and spinach) helping keep you hydrated and when infused in water add electrolytes (potassium) and flavor. Vegetables [especially when paired with exercise] may also help boost immunity, lower blood pressure and reduce or reverse disease and obesity. Experts recommend that adults try to eat about 3 cups of vegetables a day. *Note: Results vary by individual. Talk to your doctor about which vegetables might benefit your diet the most. So whether it’s time to consider Meatless Mondays, a cleaner diet or ways to help reduce your carbon footprint, prepare a single vegetable or find creative ways to use/store/freeze/can your seasonal vegetable-share… Eat Your Vegetables – as a salad, a side dish or the main course, as snacks throughout the day or added to breakfast, lunch, dinner, smoothies and dessert (yes, dessert!!). Just a few weeks before retiring [...]

Versatile Vegetables: The Classic Zucchini Cookbook by Nancy C. Ralston2023-08-17T16:03:31-04:00

John Sickley: War Time Librarian

by Shannon Butler We all know the importance of having literary skills. Being able to read for both knowledge and pleasure is essential in our everyday lives. Sometimes, having a good novel to read is the greatest tool for opening our minds and imaginations, and escaping from the real world for a while. Libraries are the best places to go to satisfy our need for books, especially in tough times. In 1918, nobody understood the need for reading better than the head librarian for the City of Poughkeepsie, John Sickley. Sickley was originally born in New Jersey in 1850 and was the great-grandson of John Bradbury, a famous English botanist and travel writer. By 1870, Sickley and his mother had moved to Poughkeepsie. He graduated from Poughkeepsie High School in 1873 as valedictorian and went on to study law under Judge Nelson. Within a few years, he was admitted to the bar, but it soon became clear that he preferred the work of a librarian more than the work of the law. So in January of 1884, Sickley was appointed the librarian of what was essentially a fairly new collection. It was only a few years before, in 1881, when the [...]

John Sickley: War Time Librarian2023-10-19T14:57:07-04:00

The Blizzard of 1888

by Shannon Butler Have we had enough snow yet? It's only February, after all, but it does feel as if it wants to snow just a little bit everyday. We do have plenty of time left in our winter season for a storm to wreak havoc across our valley. Hopefully, it won’t be like the deadly blizzard of 1888. When it comes to which snowstorm is the deadliest on record, most people agree that it's the famous "Great White Hurricane of '88." In fact, if you Google the phrase "worst snowstorms in history," this one is on every list! Poughkeepsie certainly felt the power of this storm, so much so that it would be talked about for generations to come. (Hey, we’re talking about it right now!) The Blizzard of 1888 had everything that you could possibly hate about a snowstorm. Bone-chilling temperatures, hurricane-force winds, several inches of snow dropping per hour, and it raged on for about a day and a half. To make matters worse, there were no warning systems to speak of in 1888 (no radar or AccuWeather maps). Just a few days before the storm began, it had been mild and rainy. For mid-March, that would lead [...]

The Blizzard of 18882023-10-19T14:56:27-04:00

The Slow Death of Segregation in Poughkeepsie Schools

by Shannon Butler If you are a parent, then you know just how important it is that your child receives a proper education. Many parents are struggling right now with their children doing classwork from home, or limited schooling altogether. But what if you lived in a time or place where you child might be turned away from a good school, just because of the color of their skin? It should be noted that it wasn’t all that long ago that such concerns existed, and one parent, right here in Poughkeepsie, decided to do something about it. Joseph Rhodes made a good deal of money in his business of textile dyeing. It was estimated that he had an estate valued around $3,000 in the 1870s. He became a respected businessman within the city of Poughkeepsie as well as Middletown, where he extended his business. Joseph lived in a time when schools were still separated based on color; in fact, Joseph was born when the idea that blacks should be educated at all, in their own schools, was just coming into common practice. By the time he became successful, he joined the conversation of equality when it came to voting rights and [...]

The Slow Death of Segregation in Poughkeepsie Schools2023-10-19T14:55:40-04:00

Sailing on Ice

by Shannon Butler Do you ever head outside for a walk this time of the year and think to yourself, "Why do I live someplace where the air hurts my face?" You just want to quickly head back inside, live like a bear, and hibernate under some blankets until spring. The past few days have certainly given us some chills, but that’s all part of living in the Hudson Valley (and we still have February and March to get through). However, this time of year, when the snow piles up and bodies of water freeze over, some people get super excited at the notion of going outside and being sporty. One of the top winter sports in the 1800s (particularly if you were wealthy) was the fast-paced world of ice yachting. If you have never seen it before, just picture the top part of a sailboat (mast, mainsail, and jib), remove the bottom part (the hull), and replace it with a slab of wood on some ice skates (there are probably more technical terms for this, but you get it). Here in Dutchess County, there were several clubs dedicated to the idea of getting out on the ice and catching a [...]

Sailing on Ice2023-10-19T14:55:01-04:00

Pie Camp: the Skills You Need to Make Any Pie You Want by Kate McDermott

Cookbook review by Bridget O'Donnell, Librarian When I was growing up, every year around Thanksgiving and Christmas, my Mother made desserts for our house, extended family dinners, the neighbors and my Father’s Holiday potlucks at work. Every year, her pies and plates of assorted cookies were requested and eagerly expected (though most of the cookies never made it past the cooling racks, thanks to my Father). Because our kitchen was the size of a postage stamp, as my Mother used to say, I didn’t realize how efficient this made her system: once one dessert or tray was in the oven, she’d clean up, delegate various tasks to her children patiently waiting to taste the final product, and begin the next dessert. I helped dry dishes, stir cookie dough, peel [not core or slice] apples, and, using two butter knives, cut fat into dry ingredients for pie dough. When I wasn’t focusing on the task I’d been given, I watched my Mother drop dough onto sheet pans or clear off the counter, making enough space to roll out what would become cookies decorated for the corresponding holiday or pie crusts and decorative cutouts. Occasionally, I’d see her roll dough back into a [...]

Pie Camp: the Skills You Need to Make Any Pie You Want by Kate McDermott2024-01-09T13:18:54-05:00

Whaling in Poughkeepsie

by Shannon Butler Everyone gets excited when they hear mention of a whale spotted swimming up the Hudson River. It doesn’t happen that frequently since the river is a mix of freshwater and salty ocean water. The salt line generally moves between Newburgh and Poughkeepsie, depending on things like the seasons, weather, and snowmelt. So when you read a title like "Whaling in Poughkeepsie," it makes one wonder: just how many whales did they catch around here? Well, none, actually. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, whaling was a big business, and one could easily find several ships on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans from major ports all over the world. Whale oil was used for making soaps, paints, textiles, and fuel for lamplight, while whale bones were used in the fashion world for things like hoop skirts and corsets. The major ports in the U.S. that saw the most action, and therefore the most profit, were places like New Bedford and Nantucket, Massachusetts, and New London, Connecticut. Those places were also home to the most experienced sailors and whalers. The idea of a place like Poughkeepsie (where the economy was mainly focused on agricultural goods) becoming a major whaling [...]

Whaling in Poughkeepsie2023-10-19T14:54:22-04:00

The Doctor Who Loved Baseball

by Shannon Butler It may be a little cold to think about baseball, but last night the classic film A League of Their Own was on TV, so why not? It reminded us of some photos that we have in our collections of the Riverview Baseball team from the 1890s (see image on right). Of course, it is very common to see organized teams of men in sports in the 19th century, but it is much rarer to see images of women, especially in baseball, from that time. It was even more rare to see a woman so concerned with women's place in baseball (but we’ve got a few pictures of her too!). Helen Worthing was born in Boston in 1837, and after studying at the New England Female Medical College, she became a doctor by the age of 25, one of the first female doctors. She ended up serving during the American Civil War, which is when she met and married another doctor, William Webster. Dr. Helen Webster eventually made her way to Poughkeepsie, where she was asked to serve as the Resident Physician and Professor of Physiology and Hygiene at Vassar College in 1874 (check out the images of [...]

The Doctor Who Loved Baseball2023-10-19T14:53:45-04:00

Vail Brothers

by Shannon Butler This week’s blog post is basically a cheap advertisement for our upcoming virtual program, "Local History Discussion: Vail Photography Studios." For several months now, we've been working on transcribing the ledgers that once belonged to the Vail Brothers studios. In that time, we learned the identities of well over 7,000 people in our collection of Vail photographs. Every once in a while, we got the urge to look into some of these individuals in order to learn something about their lives. (Oh, the rabbit holes!) On Wednesday January 13, beginning at 7:00 PM, we will dive into some of the stories we have uncovered. Some of them you've read about in previous blog posts, and some are brand new! We will cover the history of the company, which began in 1868 and ran until 1900, right on Main Street in Poughkeepsie. They photographed everyone, from the wealthy to traveling hobos, from incoming college students to Vassar professors. We are going to share with you some of the faces of the past, some of which we still haven’t been able to identify, but these faces are still fascinating to look at and it’s fun to ponder what was going [...]

Vail Brothers2023-10-19T14:53:09-04:00

Happy New Year’s!

by Shannon Butler Most of us have come to the conclusion that 2020 was a year for the books. For some of us, that book would be in the genre of horror, tragedy, and maybe even dystopian? Either way, the history books that will eventually be written about this year will be mostly hard to read. So we are all looking forward (perhaps nervously) to the new year and what possibilities 2021 might bring. Most of the celebrations for the coming of the new year are going to be cut-down versions of their former selves. So how have we celebrated New Year's Eve in the past? Big parties, dances, dinners, and a bit of drinking, right? As seen by the two newspaper articles on the right, it was a wild night on December 31, 1921, when everyone welcomed the new year here in Poughkeepsie. There were parties at various clubs, restaurants, theaters, and private gatherings. It should be noted that in 1921, the U.S. witnessed the beginning of the Prohibition era. This means that when people did manage to get their hands on some liquor, it was both illegal and not necessarily safe for consumption. Both of these articles are on [...]

Happy New Year’s!2023-10-19T14:52:35-04:00

Deck the Halls: Early Christmas Photos

by Shannon Butler It’s that time of year again, folks. Of course, this year has certainly been one for the books. It will be interesting to see what future historians have to say about the things we've done, or didn’t do. Some of our holiday traditions (like big family gatherings) will be put on hold for the sake of our own heath. However, there is one thing we can do (and clearly many of us have done) that will bring us some holiday cheer, and that is... decorating! Are you one of the many who decided to learn how to bake while on quarantine? Maybe you got super fancy with the sugar cookie designs? Or perhaps you decided to learn how to make your own ornaments, or take some extra time to wrap things up in order to make them look super pretty? Did you finally master the art of making a gingerbread house? Where does the desire to deck the halls and Christmas trees in our living room come from? It can be argued that the trend setter for this was none other than Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who first showcased their decorated tree in 1848. At first, decorations [...]

Deck the Halls: Early Christmas Photos2023-10-19T14:51:56-04:00

The Poughkeepsie Orphan House and Home for the Friendless

by Shannon Butler Growing up in the 19th century could be tough if your family didn’t have any money. It was even harder for those children who lost their parents either through death or just plain old abandonment. Before 1850, there was almost no place for an orphan to go to for safety, shelter, and food. Generally, they would end up in an almshouse (also known as the poorhouse) with adults who had also fallen on hard times. Ending up in a poorhouse meant no schooling or any kind of a proper education, at least until a group of concerned well-to-do women from the area decided to create an institution to house and care for children and homeless women (a.k.a. the friendless). It was in January of 1847 when a group of women - including local names like Adriance, Wilkinson, and Bartlett - got together and formed a society known as the Female Guardian Society. Their goal was to house, feed, educate, and care for children and women who were destitute. There was no real money to work with at first, other than what the ladies managed to contribute through donations, which remained the main source of income throughout their work. [...]

The Poughkeepsie Orphan House and Home for the Friendless2023-10-19T14:51:18-04:00
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