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Columbia County Historical Society

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Education, Historical Organizations, History Museums, Single Organization Support

Mission: Founded in 1916, the Columbia County Historical Society and CCHS Museum & Library collects, preserves, interprets, and presents the history, heritage, and culture of Columbia County, New York, and serves residents of all eighteen towns and the city of Hudson. The Columbia County Historical Society is the largest historic organization in the county and one of the largest in the region, and a cultural anchor in the county. We are committed to preserving, interpreting, and presenting the history of Columbia County, New York. For more than 100 years, countless numbers from all across Columbia County and beyond have enjoyed our varied exhibitions, historic properties, and educational programming. History lays the groundwork for strong, resilient communities; our identity is based on our history, heritage and culture. Founded in 1916, CCHS has evolved as an institution to become a cultural anchor in the county, publishing an award-winning scholarly magazine, and producing an ongoing lecture series. A vital community resource, our collections include important and unique archives, paintings, photographs, textiles, furniture and decorative arts, maps, manuscripts, and genealogical materials relating to Columbia County's rich heritage. The Columbia County Historical Society includes a museum and research library, as well as three additional historic properties open to the public: The 1737 Dutch 'Luykas Van Alen House'; the c. 1850 'Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse', and the c.1819 James Vanderpoel 'House of History'.

Results: For more than a century, our dedicated institution and small, loyal staff continue to present programming that makes a difference to countless numbers of people from across the county and country. Education programs for adults, school fiedl-trips for children, public tours and exhibits at all four historic properties and our award-winning magazine, 'Columbia County History & Heritage' together present a centennial accomplishment and describe 100+ years of results. Our library and collections offer unique local history and genealogical data and manuscripts, as well as thousands of maps, photographs and other archival material for researchers and authors. We teach school children about Columbia County's rich heritage, we help new residents trace the histories of their properties, and those living elsewhere rediscover their Columbia County roots. We serve residents of all eighteen towns, the city of Hudson, and visitors from all across the nation.

Target demographics: Open to all: children and adults who want to learn about New York State culture and history

Geographic areas served: Columbia County, New York

Programs: In recent years, CCHS has sustained a range of programs: an ongoing lecture series; annual immersive-learning field-trips for area fourth-graders; cultural, architectural, and genealogical research; our biannual award-winning magazine, 'Columbia County History & Heritage'; maintenance of four historic properties; and diverse exhibitions in the museum galleries.

Community Stories

6 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters



Rating: 5

A well run, spirited, organization run by an innovative director and advised by a seasoned board of long time volunterrs. Kudos.


General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

We've lived around the corner from the CCHS's Vanderpoel House for twelve years or so. It was always a very nice old federal building worth visiting, but the it certainly seemed to be more like a house simply frozen in time without any great interpretive experience.

We went back for the first time in years as part of Kinderhook's annual Candlelight Night. We were blown away. The rooms have been brightened up with interpretive information that breathed some life into the place. Really nice work, and a great place to stop by.

Review from Guidestar


General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have enjoyed seeing a number of the historical properties and exhibits of the CCHS in visits to Columbia County over the last several years. The quality of the preservation and information about the CCHS houses and buildings and of the exhibits made me much more aware of the importance of the County in the history of the state and the nation. Moreover, it was a lot of fun.


Board Member

Rating: 5

The Columbia County Historical Society preserves and protects the amazing, rich history of Columbia County in the Hudson Valley.Co-operasting with a network of small village and city historical societies across the county, it provides a unique resource for genealogists, residents, and visitors through its four properties and an increasingly vigorous and imaginative programs of exhibitions, lectures, and special events. I have found that the Society offers so much to learn about the beautiful region where I live. It is a privilege to work with the Society as a volunteer. Alexandra Anderson


General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

CCHS has a collection of significant historic properties, including what has to be one of the most extraordinary early colonial structures on the east coast, the Luykas Van Alen House. This well preserved and interpreted 300+ year old brick house is original in structure and detail, with representative 16th century furnishings appropriate to the prosperous Dutch family who lived there. We have seen nothing like it in the United States. The Society maintains a Museum building with a permanent art and artifact collection and significant local genealogical resources. The Museum also periodically hosts well designed shows that focus on significant local themes. The Society also is in the process of restoring the James Vanderpoel house, an early Federal manse with a beautiful floating staircase. Columbia County, which was the scene of a historic libel trial where Arron Burr opposed Alexander Hamilton, and Kinderhook, birthplace and home of the 8th President of the United States, are documented in detail in the art and documents that are in the collection of the Society. The CCHS buildings and collections are a mandatory stop for any serious student of early American history. We have returned several times to CCHS on trips to upstate New York, and made new finds with every visit.



Rating: 4

I have known this organization for more than 20 years: as a member; by attending programs, lectures and exhibits; and as a volunteer. The staff and management have changed over the years but the professionalism and dedication have remained consistently strong. These are good people helping to maintain awareness of the fascinating heritage of this area. Their effort deserves support.