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Geneva Academy collection

Identifier: SC-042

Scope and Contents

This artificial collection contains documents related to Geneva Academy and its eventual elevation to that of Geneva College. Some materials related to the founding of the College are also included in this collection, specifically those dated between 1822 (when Bishop John Henry Hobart first petitioned for a charter to establish a college) until 1825 (when a permanent charter for the College was granted). Some materials dated later are included as the content found in the documents describe people, events, or situations during the earlier time frame.

There are also a couple of documents that relate to the former Fairfield Academy as the history of the Academy plays a role in the eventual founding of Geneva College.


  • Creation: 1807-1885
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1807-1825


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Historical Note

In 1796, residents elected commissioners in the hope of establishing a school in Geneva, New York. Two years later, in 1798, Geneva Academy was founded through the combined efforts of local Presbyterians and Episcopalians. The Academy functioned as an establishment between that of a common school and a college. Students could take courses in reading, writing, arithmetic, book-keeping, astronomy, navigation, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. New York granted the Academy a charter in 1813 once the school had secured sufficient funding; however, by 1817, the Academy found itself in a precarious situation. Dissension between the Presbyterians and Episcopalians escalated and the resulting rift challenged the survival of the Academy and essentially shut it down.

The next year, Bishop John Henry Hobart, third Episcopal Bishop of the State of New York, announced his plan to establish a college in Geneva in order to build a stronghold for the Church in the western part of New York. His plan was to reimagine and elevate the status of Geneva Academy to that of a college. In January 1822, Major James Rees, on behalf of the Geneva Academy Trustees, submitted a petition for a charter for the proposed college. The State Regents reposnded in April with a provisional charter requiring the Academy to secure $60,000 (yielding an annual sum of $4,000) within three years in order to obtain a permanent charter. The Academy met these requirements and was granted a permanent charter on February 8, 1825.

Fairfield Academy was founded in 1802 and was granted a charter the following year. In 1812, the Fairfield Academy Trustees petitioned Trinity Episcopal Church in Fairfield for a grant to fund the establishment of a college. This petition was denied; however, Rev. Baldwin suggested another petition the following year to establisha theological school in connection to the Academy. Trinity Episcopal Church followed this suggestion and founded the school.

As part of Bishop Hobart's plan to establish a college in Geneva, he propsed that the theological school at Fairfield be transferred to Geneva. This transfer occured in 1821, and the Rev. Daniel McDonald relocated to Geneva along with the school.


0.25 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



This artificial collection contains documents related to Geneva Academy, Fairfield Academy, and the founding of Geneva College.


This collection is arranged in the following series:

  1. Geneva Academy
  2. Geneva College
  3. Fairfield Academy


Box 1: Archives Storage / Range 23A / Section 1;

Oversize Box 1: Archives Office / Section 7


This is an artificial collection with no known provenance.

Geneva Academy collection: A Finding Aid
Tricia McEldowney, Archivist
April 2022
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Archives and Special Collections Repository

Warren Hunting Smith Library
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Geneva New York 14456 U.S.A. US (United States)