Albany Academy For Girls

   1814: the nation's oldest day school for women

 Welcome, Friend of the Academy !

Union School - Albany Female Academy

Albany Female Academy - 1834
The Academy on North Pearl, Henry Rector, architect
occupied by the school, 1834 to 1892

initiated by a mother, a father, friends, neighbors, and associates
Betsey Foot DeWitt Map with school location
Betsey Foot - FoundressDe Witt map - Union School setting (click to enlarge)
portrait after Ezra Ames, Archives and Collections, Albany Academies

We, the subscribers, agree to send to Union School in Montgomery street, under the tuition of Horace Goodrich, the number of female scholars affixed to our names for the space of one year, from the first day of May next, and we agree to pay to Ebenezer Foot twenty-four dollars for each scholar, in four equal quarterly payments, the first payment to be on the first day of August next.
February 24th, 1814   
John Ely1Ab. Van Vechten1
Moses Allen2Benj. Knower1
James Scrymser1Har's Ten Eyck1
T. & J. Russell 4James Kent1
Edward Brown1John V. Henry3
G. Stewart1John Reid1
Matthew Gill2Isaac Hutton1
Uriah Marvin2Asa H. Center1
Thomas Gould1James [Clark] [paper torn] 
Solomon Allen1John [Stearns] 
William Fowler1Roorb[ach] 
Nich's Bleecker1  

The signers are all men, as would be expected in that era. Most were prominent merchants and professionals, members of the middle class and new aristocracy. A letter from Lebbeus Booth, the principal of the school from 1815 to 1824, states:
“Ebenezer Foot, a lawyer of eminence residing in Montgomery Street, Albany, was the prime mover in establishing the school. He associated with him Chancellor Kent, John V. Henry, Isaac Hutton, Thomas Gould, Dr. Stearns, Dr. Ely, Thomas and Joseph Russell, Asa H. Center, Nathaniel Davis, and others. They leased a lot in Montgomery street north of the Third Presbyterian Church, and erected a cheap one story building. They employed Horace Goodrich as their first teacher, a graduate of Union College, son of Col. Goodrich, of Milton, Saratoga County. He commenced school on the first of May, 1814.” Union School

Melvil Dewey, secretary of the New York Board of Regents, invited the academies of New York State to participate in the Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago, one of the many great world’s fairs of the nineteenth century It was in part a celebration of the 400th anniversary of the landing of Columbus. A chart was created by Professor Morgan to put forth the significance of the history of Albany Female Academy. The academy’s claims as the oldest chartered school for girls in the world was a particularly bold assertion in this tempting setting. Accompanying the exhibit in Chicago was this little downloadable pamphlet.
Poster by Albany Female Academy for Columbian Exposition, 1893
Poster by Albany Female Academy for Columbian Exposition, 1893"
Archives and Collections of The Albany Academies

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