Will P. Tatum III
Dutchess County Historian
A native of Georgia and raised in North Carolina, Will received his BA in History and Anthropology at the College of William and Mary in Virginia in 2003. He went on to earn his MA and PhD in History at Brown University in 2004 and 2016, respectively. From 2010-2012, he served as the Sol Feinstone Scholar at the David Library of the American Revolution in Washington Crossing, PA. In October 2012, Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro appointed him as the Dutchess County Historian.
Will works within the Dutchess County Clerk’s Office, where, with the support of County Clerk Bradford H. Kendall, he tackles a variety of on-going projects. First among these is indexing and imaging the Dutchess County Ancient Documents Collection, which includes the county’s earliest court records. Supported by generous funding from the New York State Archives’ Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund, this project has processed 87,000 pages of material to date. Almost half of that material (37,000 pages) is now accessible via keyword search on the Dutchess County Clerk’s webpage at www.dutchessny.gov/ancientdocuments. Will has also researched, sourced images, and written text for an ongoing series of exhibit panels, which tell the history of Dutchess County government department by department. He holds quarterly meetings and maintains an active email list and online calendar to coordinate activities within the county history community.
In collaboration with the Dutchess County Historical Society, Will has launched and managed two regular event series: the Dutchess County Historic Tavern Trail and Decoding the Past. The Tavern Trail is a friend-raising event for the history community, hosting brief presentations throughout the county at restaurants in historic buildings and historic sites that were once taverns. The 2016 series explored the intersection between the host sites and their local communities, while the 2017 series focused on local connections with the Temperance Movement and Prohibition. For more information, visit www.meetup.com/dutchesstaverntrail. The Decoding the Past programs reverse the standard lecture format, focusing on unraveling the research process by which historians, museum specialists, archivists, and librarians reveal the hidden history contained within objects and documents.
In 2018, the Dutchess County Historical Society will be leading a special year-long commemorative program entitled “The Year of the Veteran.” Through a variety of programs and outreach initiatives, the society, with support from the Dutchess County Historian’s Office and other partners, will document veterans’ stories and build a community dialogue around the themes of service and sacrifice. For more information on this exciting program, visit dchsny.org.