Schenectady County Historical Society
The Schenectady County Historical Society was founded in 1905 to preserve the history of the area, promote historical research, disseminate historical knowledge, and preserve items of local significance. The Society’s museum and local history and genealogy research library (Grems-Doolittle Library) have been located at 32 Washington Avenue in the Stockade neighborhood in Schenectady since 1958. The Mabee Farm Historic Site in Rotterdam Junction, which includes the oldest house still standing in the Mohawk Valley, was gifted to the Society in 1993. On the Mabee Farm Historic Site, the George E. Franchere Education Center was constructed and opened in 2011. With the construction of the Education Center, activities and events can now be held at the Mabee Farm year-round.
The Schenectady County Historical Society continues to change and grow, and we are more active than ever in hosting lectures and family-oriented events, and featuring exhibits, at both of our locations.
The area now known as Schenectady County has experienced over three centuries of cultural change that has produced a rich, educational, and industrial environment that continues to evolve. The Schenectady County Historical Society, through the acquisition, preservation, and exhibition of historic artifacts, documents, and structures, will educate residents and visitors about this dynamic past, so that Schenectady’s history will be preserved for the future.
The Schenectady History Museum, located at 32 Washington Avenue in Schenectady, helps visitors explore the complex history of Schenectady County. Exhibits trace the area’s history from the earliest European settlers who traded with the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), to the industrial and immigration boom of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Visitors explore a diverse range of Schenectady’s history, including the fur trade, the American Revolution, the Erie Canal, General Electric, and the American Locomotive Company, while signature artifacts like the Liberty Flag and the Yates Dollhouse illustrate the deep history of this area. The main rotating gallery in the museum’s Vrooman Room has featured exhibits on a variety of topics, from Schenectady’s professional African American baseball team the Mohawk Colored Giants to the fashion, family, and faith of women in the Victorian era. Situated in the heart of the historic Stockade District of Schenectady, the Schenectady History Museum is the perfect starting point for discovering the history of Schenectady County.
Originally housed in one of the rooms of the Schenectady History Museum, The Grems-Doolittle Library was expanded through a 3,000-square-foot addition to the building at 32 Washington Avenue in 1991. The library collects, preserves, and makes available materials that document the people, places, and history of Schenectady County and its environs. Library holdings include books pertaining to local history, genealogies and family histories, periodicals, oral histories, diaries, newspapers, maps, photographs, personal and family papers, and records of Schenectady County schools, businesses, churches, and other organizations. Visitors of all ages are welcome, and the library is staffed to help researchers find material on a variety of local history and genealogical research topics.
The Mabee Farm Historic Site in Rotterdam Junction, located along the picturesque banks of the Mohawk River, is where visitors can find the oldest house still standing in the Mohawk Valley, as well as a number of historic outbuildings, including a mid-18th-century Dutch barn. The Jan Mabee House (also known as the Stone House) dates from around 1705 and remained in the Mabee family for almost three centuries. In 1993, George Franchere, the last descendant of Jan Mabee to own the property, made a gift of the Mabee Farm property to the Schenectady County Historical Society. The opening of the George E. Franchere Education Center in 2011 added modern exhibit and programming space, artifact storage, and a catering kitchen to the site. Every year, thousands of local students visit the Mabee Farm as part of the site’s vibrant school field trip programming. Programs such as blacksmithing, broom and basket making, wool processing, and Native American culture programs give students and other visitors an opportunity to experience history hands-on. The Mabee Farm is also home to a number of workshops and classes for people of all ages, family-oriented festivals, and historic militia reenactments.