Friday, December 30, 2016

Education in Hudson in the Mid-19th Century

Hudson Academy, which stood atop of Academy Hill, was, according to Franklin Ellis, author of History of Columbia County, NY, "one of the oldest institutions of its class in the State, and by reason of its antiquity, its usefulness, and the varying fortunes which it has experienced, it merits a high place in the regards of the people of the county."

Photo courtesy Historic Hudson
In 1878, when Ellis was writing his history, Hudson Academy had been in existence for a little more than seventy years. He recounts its beginnings: 
On Feb. 27, 1805, there met together in Hudson sixty-four gentlemen who were "impressed with the importance and necessity of diffusing useful knowledge by the establishment of seminaries for the instruction of youth." At this meeting an association was formed and a constitution adopted for the establishment of an institution to be known as "Hudson Academy."
On March 3, 1807, the Academy association was incorporated, and among the corporators are at least two names that will be familiar to Gossips readers: Ezra Sampson, John Swift, Reuben Sears, Peter Van Den Bergh, Harry Croswell, Elisha Williams, William W. Van Ness, Timothy Babcock, William Fraser, Peter Van Rensselaer, William Ashley, Luther Dunning, Joseph Mosely, Benjamin Miller, Ebenezer Rand, John Bennett, Noah Gridley, William Shaw, William Whiting, Cornelius Tobey, Ezra Browne, Samuel J. Ten Broeck, William Noyes, Jr., and Obed W. Folger.

Hudson Academy was, Ellis tells us, "was long in a flourishing condition, and among the list of instructors and graduates are found the names of many who have held prominent positions in various walks of life." 

Ellis records that initially "the rates of tuition were fixed at four dollars per quarter for higher English, languages, and mathematics, and two dollars for the lower classes." In 1851, when this advertisement appeared in the Daily Star, quarterly tuition had doubled and an alternative "second class" program seems to have been created. What may be most interesting are the vacations: a summer vacation lasting only a little more than three weeks, and a winter vacation of two weeks.

Hudson Academy closed its doors in 1886. From 1889 to 1894, the building was used by Hudson High School.


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  2. And the Hudson City Public Schools also included School No. 4.
    It was located in the 400 block of Columbia St.
    This fact is found in the yearly published City of Hudson directories.
    School No. 4 was aka the "Colored School" for Hudson's children of color not to be educated with the white population.

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    1. Once again Hudson is truly the land of Rip Van Winkle.
      Only 100+ years after the Civil War to integrate the Public School System.

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