Charles E. Dornbusch, 1907-1990

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Charles Dornbusch was the Vedder Research Library’s first librarian and the moving force behind its official creation. A man of countless unique talents and interests, he has been described (usually in one breath) as a librarian, bibliographer, writer, publisher, bookseller, scoutmaster, antiques collector, traveller, member of numerous learned societies, and baker of excellent breads. Born and raised in New York City, Mr. Dornbusch attended night school to attain his college education - at the same time working at the New York Public Library where he quickly became full-time staff. He ended up staying at the New York Public Library the entire 38 years of his career, most of that spent at NYPL's building on Fifth Avenue and 24th Street where he was an Acquisitions Specialist. 

In 1963 Charles moved to Cornwallville, NY where his mother was originally from and where his family had owned a farm since 1942. The farm on Strong Road became his permanent residence and the base for many of his future endeavors. As a trustee of the Greene County Historical Society, he made one of his first retirement projects the creation of a research library out of the Society’s scattered and diverse holdings - describing it in a newspaper article at the time as his “second career” and commemorating the official opening of the library on his 1963 Christmas card.

Mr. Dornbusch went on to further achievement pursuing his other passion: Military History. He had served as a Staff Sergeant during World War II with the 409th Infantry Regiment in Europe, although his interest in the field may have predated his service. In his later years, Mr. Dornbusch went on to write an authoritative bibliography on the American Civil War, as well as numerous unit histories focusing the Armed Forces of the United States and the Canadian Military in both the 19th and 20th centuries. He was genuinely prolific and several of his works remain highly regarded among scholars today. 

Hope Farm Press was Mr. Dornbusch's other great achievement. He ran a small book and print shop from his home in Cornwallville during the 1960s, 70s and 80s, printing works which he had authored himself as well as various local history selections of a significant nature. Hope Farm Press in this way became responsible for the distribution of many important and otherwise out-of-print histories related to Greene County and the surrounding region, and many publications from Hope Farm Press are featured on the Vedder Library's shelves. 

Mr. Dornbusch passed away before his time in an accident while doing maintenance work at his home in 1990. His only living relative at the time of his death was his sister Irma who passed on within months of her older brother. Fortunately, Charles Dornbusch's memory lives on in the library which he was instrumental in founding and organizing on behalf of the Greene County Historical Society.