by Shannon Butler

Did you know that we have another interesting Local History program coming up? That’s right! Wednesday, August 11, 2021 at 7:00 PM, via Zoom, we will be talking all about schools and seminaries of old Poughkeepsie. During the 19th century, Poughkeepsie was a major destination for aspiring students, with a variety of schools to choose from. Young men and women came from all over the country, and in some cases, all over the world, just for the chance to better themselves with our resources and talented educators (and to be sure, going to school in the lovely Hudson Valley was a nice bonus).

In our presentation we will look at some of the early forms of education and just how one’s church would play a role in learning. Then we will examine what the options were for schooling before the public school system originated, which took place in the years following the passage of a law in 1843. It took some time to get some public schools organized and running, but in the meantime there were plenty of excellent private schools to attend (if you could afford it). We will be looking at places like the Poughkeepsie Collegiate School, Riverview Academy, The Glen Eden School, Cooks College, and of course Vassar.

As early as 1850, the Poughkeepsie Journal (which tended to be much more opinionated back in the 19th century) proclaimed, “We think it safe to say that no place in the United States, other things being equal, contains an amount of educational ability, or first class institutions of learning, superior to those located in our own beautiful village.” However, they were clearly speaking only of the private schools, as the same paper was a clear opponent to the legislative act for free public schools in 1843 when it said “the new system will prove a curse instead of a blessing.” However, free schools began popping up around the city and by the time of the Great Depression, most of the once profitable private schools were now gone.

We will cover all of this and much more during the presentation. If you haven’t signed up yet, please register in advance for this meeting using the link below:

You will receive an email with the link to join the meeting. Save the link for August 11th at 7PM! See you then.

Poughkeepsie Journal – 27 April 1850
King, Charles Donald. “History of Education in Dutchess County: 1716-1959” pg. 53.

01 – Group portrait of a No. 8 school class, located on Cannon Street; class taught by May L. Thombay.
02 – Illustration of the Riverview Military Academy and Parade Grounds, as seen from an aeroplane.