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Stony Brook University

George Washington and the Culper Spy Ring

Research Materials about George Washington, the Culper Spy Ring, and the American Revolutionary War

Outreach & Events

Three Village Historical Societyvirtual tours exploring local sites of Setauket’s Revolutionary War Culper Spy Ring. 

Culper Spy Day: a collaboration of local institutions and organizations across the region, Culper Spy Day is an activity-filled event highlighting the amazing history behind George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring.

Special Collections at Stony Brook University: collaborates and engages with the university and external communities through a wide array of activities. Collaborators include the Three Village Historical Society (TVHS), the Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO), and Raynham Hall Museum. 

Recent Activities

  • March 2020. "Spies in the Archive." Invited lecture, Long Island Maritime Museum, West Sayville, New York.
  • January 2019: in collaboration with the Three Village Historical Society, SBU’s Washington’s letters were integrated into the society's K-12 teaching curriculum and docent handbook.
  • December 2018: the SBU History Club visited Special Collections to learn about the collections, which included a discussion and viewing of the letters.
  • September 2018: Special Collections hosted two Q & A sessions and tours as part of the regional event Culper Spy Day (hosted annually since 2016). The viewing was featured in Newsday
  • September 2018: letters featured at SBU’s CommUniversity event.
  • August 2018: the letters were featured in the Travel Channel’s popular series “Mysteries at the Museum.”
  • July 2018: the 1779 Washington letter made a special trip off campus to the Neighborhood House in Setauket. Kristen Nyitray gave a lecture to a special summer, sold out event, part of the Three Village Historical Society's series.
  • April 2018: Kristen Nyitray and Chris Filstrup discussed the acquisition and significance of the letters on the podcast series Long Island History Project.
  • September 2017: letters featured at SBU’s CommUniversity event.
  • September 2017: Special Collections hosted an open house and viewing of the letters. The department was highlighted by local media.
  • Spring 2017: article published by Nyitray, Kristen J, and Sally Stieglitz. “Spies in the Archive: Acquiring Revolutionary War Spy Letters Through Community Engagement.” RBM: a Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage. 18.1 (2017): 44-58.
  • Fall 2016: article published by Stieglitz, Sally, and Kristen J. Nyitray. “Using Oral History to Assess Community Impact: a Conversation with Beverly C. Tyler, Historian, Three Village Historical Society.” Engaged Scholar Journal: Community-Engaged Research, Teaching, and Learning. 2.2 (2017): 115-122.

Additional Activities

  • News 12 featured the letters on the program "Long Island's Hidden Past."
  • the department is a location on the Culper Spy Ring audio tour (Long Island North Shore Heritage Area);
  • a facsimile of the 1779 letter is featured at the TVHS's "Spies" exhibition in Setauket, New York.
  • the original 1779 letter made a special trip off-campus and was viewed by over 500 children and parents at Setauket Elementary School. The event was covered by News 12 Long Island, The Village Times Herald, and the Three Village Patch.
  • the Military Channel program "Secrets of the Arsenal" highlighted the letters/
  • the 1779 letter was on view at the historical landmarking event for the Brewster House in Setauket, New York (WMHO).
  • the Long Island Museum of American Art, History, and Carriages interviewed Kristen Nyitray about the conservation of the letters for the exhibition "Long Island at War."
  • a scholarly conference on Long Island during the American Revolution was held at Stony Brook University.
  • a conference on patriots during the American Revolution was held at Stony Brook University in collaboration with the TVHS.
  • the letters were displayed at the community Christmas tree lighting in Stony Brook Village (WMHO).
  • facsimiles were presented to New York State Assemblyman and SBU alum Carl Heastie at Patriot's Rock in Setauket, New York.
  • a lecture about the letters was given at the inaugural CommUniversity Day at Stony Brook University.
  • unveiling of the 1779 letter held in 2006 at the Charles B. Wang Center where hundreds of visitors viewed it and interacted with historical reenactors.