Among FDR's many interests was his love for the history of the Hudson valley and in particular for the community of Hyde Park in which he grew up and which he always called home.
FDR was appointed historian for the Town of Hyde Park in 1926. He completed the Hyde Park World War I Report detailing the contributions of his jurisdiction to the war effort and went on to compile The Records of the Town of Hyde Park, 1821-1875, published by the Dutchess County Historical Society in 1928. As town historian FDR was an active historic preservationist. His 1923 essay in De halve Maen, the journal of the Holland Society, called attention to the destruction of important examples of Dutch colonial architecture and called for a comprehensive inventory of surviving Dutch colonial structures in New York and New Jersey. This led directly to the 1929 publication, by his friend Helen Wilkinson Reynolds, of Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley Before 1776.
FDR resigned as town historian in 1932 after becoming President-Elect. Today his service as a local government historian is commemorated by the State Historian's Office and the Association of Public Historians of New York State in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Local Government Historians Professional Achievement Award which honors lifetime achievement in the practice of public history in New York State.
Winners of the FDR Award are:
- Joyce Gee, Historian, Dutchess County, New York,
- Roger W. Keenholts, Historian, Town of Guilderland and Village of Altamont, Albany County, New York.
- Doris Rosenblum, Historian, Borough of Manhattan, New York City
- Julia Boyer Reinstein, Historian, Town of Cheektowaga, Erie County, New york
- Lewis G. Decker, Historian, Fulton County, New York
- Sallie Sypher, Putnam County Historian
- Dorothy Horton McGee, Oyster Bay Town Historian
- Dorothy Rolling, Niagara County Historian