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The Castleton-on-Hudson Study Club -- A Short History

The year is 1915.  The place is Castleton-on-Hudson, a thriving village, one of the many along this historic river.  The time is a time of change in education, technology, women’s place in the scheme of things in learning, in politics, in the work place.

It was right for a group of women to form an organization such as the Castleton Study Club.  It was a time when books became important, reading became important, and libraries were expanding.  Education for women was growing, and knowledge was expanding.  Traveling libraries; the State lending books to groups for study was popular.

The original group consisted of Jennie Harris, Lena Dawson, who worked in the New York State Library, Mrs. Anna Hudson, who kept a boarding house for teachers, and other interested women.  That group is now gone, but we remember them all with thanks and affection for their efforts.

Others became interested and joined.  If you had a love for books and information, and people and places, you were welcome.  Teachers, musicians, a doctor’s wife, a dentist’s wife, housewives who wanted to expand their world; all came.

The Study Club was kept to a group of 20 and we met in each other’s houses.   Each person was required to do a book or a program of general interest once a year.   Each hostess also entertained with light refreshments.  The conversation was stimulating and the needs and concerns of the time, and of our community were discussed.

Miss Lena Dawson, who worked for many years in Albany, provided a variety of books from the New York State Library, which we could look over and , according to the subject matter for that meeting, we could select. Everything was flexible; poetry, history, geography, travel – the choice was ours.  We worked closely with our own library and could pick and choose our subjects.

We all learned.  I took so much with me from these meetings, from the sociability.   It became and important part of my life.

The membership changed over the years; new people came, some left, some died, some moved away.  The group still meets, a smaller group, but the work and the ideas go on.

Ruth N. Leonard July 1999


Records of the Castleton-on-Hudson Study Club Held by the Castleton Public Library

Record group description:

Records from 1923 – present of the Castleton Study Club (organized 1915) exist and are stored at the Castleton Public Library at 85 South Main Street in Castleton, New York. Records include minute books, roll calls, yearly programs, sporadic financial records, correspondence, and various years and versions of the group’s constitution. It seems that the 1979 version of the constitution is the most recent. The group now has 14 members and instead of meeting twice a month as had been the case since 1915, the group decided to meet only once a month starting in 1996. Meetings are still held in members’ homes.

Thank you to Mrs. Ruth Spieske, Mrs. Ruth Leonard, and Mrs. Eleanor Tanner for their help in this project.


Online Records of the Castleton Study Club:

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Minute Book, 1923 - 1924

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Annual Program, 1924 - 1925

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Program Covers

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Annual Program, 1976 - 1977



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1999 Upper Hudson Library System

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