Robert Murphy
City of Beacon Historian

Dutchess Award

The history of Dutchess County is collected and celebrated one story at a time, and few have amassed a finer record of recording his own community's past than has Robert J. Murphy, the City of Beacon Historian who has served as President of the Beacon Historical Society since 1998 and who has written its fascinating monthly newsletter since 1981. The Dutchess County Historical Society is pleased to salute Bob's exceptional devotion to Beacon's past through the presentation of the Dutchess Award, which recognizes outstanding accomplishment by a local historian.

Newburgh-Beacon Ferry.



Beacon Historical Society News


2015 Annual Awards Ceremony


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Vassar Alumnae House

161 College Ave. Poughkeepsie, NY




Grant Barnart
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Award


Robert Murphy, City of Beacon Historian
Dutchess Award


Even Pritchard
Helen Wilkinson Reynolds Award


EFCO Products Inc.
Business of Historical Distinction Aware

Mr. Murpy's speech to the DCHS


Thank you president VanBuren and the board of trustees of DCHS for this, the most prestigious of honors to a local historian, the "Dutchess Award"; and thanks to all the members, guests and friends of this august institution for making this even possible.


Those of us practicing the avocation of Local Historian are likeminded in at least one thing: we all are fascinated by the stuff of history.  Some, like myself, are as retiring and elusive as Harper Lee's Boo Radley.  Others, like my friend Denise VanBuren, are effusive and outgoing, using their social skills to widen the audience and awareness of local history.


And for that subset of us who want to write--who need to write--about the past, nothing can be more exhilarating than to have subject matter worthy of writing about, and a writing partner willing and capable of helping you. For almost 35 years I have been composing the monthly newsletter for the Beacon Historical Society. And after all that time sleuthing, I still find my city's history full of surprises, full of discoveries waiting to be found.


Beacon has been Blessed by Geography, Mount Beacon, the link to our city's identity, looms above us to the east; the Fishkill Creek rushes through the former industrial city-center and eventually empties into the Hudson, our river whose beauty and utility made this the place that our founders, Catheryna and Roger Brett, chose to make their wilderness home. Mountain, creek and river are the natural resources that helped create our city, and still shape its destiny as to what we are becoming. This theme of the gift-of-geography runs through our community's story, springing out tales such as that of silent movies made on Mount Beacon; or New York City entrepreneurs like John Jacob Astor and Phillip Hone who used our creek to power the mills that were to spur on America's Industrial Revolution; and our beautiful riverfront where once walked figures of national importance--from George Washington to Pete Seeger.


And yet we assembled here know, more than most, that history only remembered can be as fragile as a delicate flower, as disappearing as sculpted ice...lost forever in a generation, if not nurtured and protected. That is why the work of this organization and all of our local historical societies is so important, so necessary. And that is why I accept this award in fellowship with all those local historians of Dutchess County who carry on the good work of saving our collective pasts for those who will follow.


Bob was born and raised in the City of Beacon, and earned a Bachelor degree from Manhattan College and a Master degree from the State of New York at Albany. While he may have first joined the Beacon Historical Society with a goal of improving his photography skills, he ultimately amassed decades of commitment to capturing images, sharing details and creating unbridled enthusiasm for his City's story. He has "researched and written on hundreds of topics about Beacon's past, always with the simple (but very difficult) goal in mind--to make our history, often forgotten or lost, come alive again."  Bob has co-authored two books, Historic Beacon and Beacon Revisited and is the pre-eminent historian on such topics as the Mount Beacon Incline Railway and the Newburgh-Beacon Ferry.



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