World War II was the most destructive conflict in human history. Millions of people lost their lives fighting for or defending against tyranny, some for the right reasons, and others for the wrong ones (Hastings 2012). The bandages in the above photo were made by a German company called Hartmann Group. They were just one of the many companies from all around the world that were required by their government to begin producing materials for war in both the 1910s and the 1930-40s. In short, there were no facets of ordinary life, nor anyone in the world who was not affected in some way by the greatest military conflict of all-time.
On March 3, 1865, the War Department of the United States established the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands; it has since come to be known as the Freedmen’s Bureau (National Archives 2021). Facing the aftermath of the Civil War and the havoc it wreaked on the American economic system, President Andrew Johnson worked alongside Congress to create the Freedmen’s Bureau, which was a federal agency that was established for the purpose of promoting the social welfare of the recently freed population of enslaved African Americans (Hatfield 2020).
The oil canvas painting “The Girl I Left Behind Me” was painted by Eastman Johnson. The picture’s title was known to be an Irish ballad title in was made notable during the Civil War (Smithsonian American Art Museum: Commemorative Guide 2015, par. 2). The woman is surrounded by darkness as the wind blows, unsure of what will come next. Through the lyrics, a connection of unity as this woman in the painting is not the only woman to have to say goodbye to their loved one; “until I see my love again for whom my heart is breaking” (The Girl I Left Behind 2021, under “Brighton Camp”). Although other paintings were prevalent, this was the first time an artist depicted the impacts of war in American art, allowing artists to voice concerns for the nation (Smithsonian American Art Museum: Commemorative Guide 2015, par. 2).
In the not-so-distant past, racial segregation was not only acceptable but was required, and efforts to dismantle it finally began in 1954 with the Supreme Court ruling of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (Rodgers and Bullock 1972). While some cities peacefully desegregated their facilities, the southern states continued their archaic aggressions towards social progress through creating school legislation to slow the process (1972).
Over the next 10 years, the various congresses and presidents showed little to no action towards advancing desegregation, and it wasn’t until congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forced government departments to report the status of desegregation to congress and the president, that there was some movement towards equality (Wise 1974). While a Supreme Court ruling and a congressional act should be enough to force progress, the Civil Rights Act of 1969 had to be passed a few years later to make it so people could not be discriminated against for any individual reason (Wise 1974). However, both the 1964 and 1969 acts took too long to be officially enforced laws and were still met with local government resistance (Wise 1974).
On September 9, 1891, Cass Hite killed Adolf F. Kohler in the Green River Valley of the Utah Territory in self-defense. Despite this, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison. What followed were petitions, letters, and people asking one question: why?
The answer was complicated. Prosecutors in court claimed Hite killed Kohler out of anger after being called a coward (The People of the Territory of Utah vs. Cass Hite, n.d.). For Hite’s defense, Kohler shot first after Hite went to him to settle their differences without violence (Salt Lake Tribune 1892, 3). The court split when the first trial proceeded in February 1892. With no solid proof of either sides’ story besides bullet holes and a dead man, a he-said she-said predicament ensued. Witnesses contradicted each other on key points depending on which side they supported. “Ultimately,” says Knipmeyer, author of Hite’s biography, “[it] came down to which witnesses each member of the…jury believed” (Knipmeyer 2016, 147-148).
World War II veterans are an ever-shrinking population. While most living veterans are well into their 90s, many of their stories have not been told. Salvatore J. Indiviglia was 99 when he passed on May 28, 2018. According to an article from the Pew Research Center, “The [Department of Veteran’s Affairs] projections show that between Sept. 30, 2019 and Sept. 30, 2020, 245 WWII veterans are expected to be lost each day” (Schaeffer 2020). Thus, it is more crucial than ever to record as many of their stories and experiences as possible before they are lost for good. However, sometimes their stories live on through the work they have done throughout their lives. I was able to find his story through the paintings he has left behind and the organizations he was a part of. Salvatore J. Indiviglia was a resident of Franklin Square, New York for 68 years, a veteran of World War II, and a prolific artist whose work is displayed in numerous places, most notably, in the Franklin Square Public Library (Newsday 2018).
Criminal conviction affects the individual far past the surface level of physical incarceration. Qualitative interviews have shown that life in prison develops negative self-stigma. But higher education can counteract that and help develop a more positive sense of self (Evans, Douglas and Pelletier 2017, 260). The focus of most studies has been on using higher education to improve the mental health of prisoners, as well as make them less stigmatized once they re-enter society.
Reaching from the High Bridge area of the Bronx up and Brewster in Putnam County, the Putnam line is an old, and possibly forgotten part of history. In 1869, a group of Boston and New York investors sought to connect the two cities via a railway chartered a third set of tracks between the current Hudson and Harlem lines leaving New York City (Kelley 2005). This venture came to fruition in December of 1880, when the fifty-eight miles of track, serving towns that didn’t have immediate access to railways and passengers were able to use the new line by 1881 (Kelley 2005). However, the economic strain that existed on the Putnam line since its beginnings never really disappeared, despite its success as a passenger train. It was passed between companies, shifted around in purpose, and eventually the connection to Boston was removed by rival railways (Kelley 2005). By 1913, the line had undergone several administration changes before finally falling into the control of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, where it gained the name of ‘Putnam Division’.
In its early days, the Putnam Division was a well used rail line by the many growing towns along its path, providing new opportunities to workers and commuters. Daniel R. Gallo states in an interview that “between 1950 and 1955, the population between Ardsley and Yorktown Heights tripled” due to the use of the Putnam line, which allowed for easy travel between the Westchester County towns and New York City (Strauss 1981). Many of the stations along the Putnam Railway were close to parks and attractions, such as the Lincoln Station and Tibbetts Brook Valley, which in 1927 was developed into a park with swimming pools and walking trails (Brause 2007).
Finally, the financial strain of “The Old Put” lead to its eventual closing in 1958. By its seventy-ninth year of toting passengers, the train line had dwindled to around 300 and was accruing annual deficits of up to $400,000 (Folsom 1958). On its final passage north, Train 947 left the Bronx at 5:47 PM and arrived in Brewster at 8:37 PM: a total of five hundred passengers had boarded the train, celebrating and mourning the last ride of “The Old Put” (Folsom 1958; Kelley 2005). The oldest passenger was 81-year old Henry H. Wells, former Mayor of Brewster, the youngest a 12 year old Michael Fox of North Salem; it carried a variety of passengers from railway workers, schoolchildren, and even bankers (Folsom 1958). Despite the discontinuing of service for “The Old Put”, the party commuters and locals had left potent memories in all involved. This unplanned event demonstrates a small scale of the Vincentian desire to create “global harmony” in the world, and that it is possible for strangers to live harmoniously (“Our Mission” 2019).
Although the passenger train had come to an end, the freight division of the Putnam line ran until 1981. The five stations along the passenger lines that remained, in Elmsford, Briarcliff Manor, Millwood, Yorktown Heights, and Mahopac, were maintained and used as libraries, museums, parks, offices, and even restaurants through the years (Strauss 1981). Various blog posts, outlining the echoes of the train on the land, and books, such as “The Putnam Division” by Daniel R. Gallo, that record its history keep the memory of this railway alive (Strauss 1981). Today the abandoned rail line is actively used as walking trails, parks, and history trails for those interested in learning more about the “Old Put” and its travels.
Taken of an unnamed student at Farmingdale State University’s Engineering Technology program. This photo does more than portray a student and a plane, it is a living document of Farmingdale State University as a pioneer in creating a post-World War II college level aviation program that was previously only offered in vocational schools.
World War II played a major role in the evolution of the workforce. “The war left an altered economy that demanded a workforce whose education and training needed to be more technical in nature” (Cavaioli 2012, 139).
Image of a first edition copy of George Alfred Townsend’s Tales of the Chesapeake, a collection of short stories and poems about the Maryland shore. Published in 1880.
Tales of the Chesapeake by George Alfred Townsend is a 138-year-old collection of stories and poems about the Delaware and Maryland shores. At the age of thirty-five, Townsend, or GATH as he often used as a penname, wrote Talesafter re-visiting the Eastern Shore where he spent time as a child. The book contains tales of the rural waterfront communities along the Chesapeake Bay (Wiebe 2014). The red, cloth-bound volume is one of just a few works for which GATH is still remembered. Continue reading →