Who We Are
The Adams County Historical Society has often been referred to affectionately as the "county's attic"—an archive and museum preserving the rich cultural heritage of Adams County, Pennsylvania.
Our mission is to "foster interest in the history of Adams County and vicinity, conduct research, preserve records and objects, mark sites, and pursue such activities as may be related to the history of the community."
The Society offers twenty-one hours of public operation utilizing paid and volunteer staff to serve researchers at its headquarters at the Wolf House on the campus of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg.
The Adams County Historical Society is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. The official registration and financial information of the Adams County Historical Society may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll-free, within Pennsylvania, 1-800-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.
An Adams County Historical Society was organized in 1888 and continued in operation for almost one year. A second society was organized in 1934 and ceased to function when its president died two years later. The third and present society began meeting in 1939. A charter of incorporation was secured the following year. The county commissioners offered some space in the basement of the courthouse, which the officers used to create a library, archives, and museum.
In 1959 the Society entered into a 39-year lease of the oldest building on the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg. Completed in 1832, this building was last used as a dormitory during the 1953-1954 year. The historical society occupied this building in 1961.
In 1976, the building was named Schmucker Hall, in honor of the seminary's founder. On the morning of July 1, 1863, it was the largest building on Seminary Ridge (the other two being the residences of professors), which was a part of the Union line as the Confederate Army approached from the west and then from the north. During the afternoon the Union troops were forced to retreat through the town of Gettysburg, leaving Seminary Ridge in Confederate hands. The old dormitory became the first field hospital of the battle, into which the wounded of both sides were carried. During the battle, the building suffered some damage, which the seminary authorities were able to repair in time to begin the fall session in late September, about one month after the last of the wounded were removed.
In 2011, the Society moved out of Schmucker Hall so that the old dormitory could be rehabilitated and converted into a new museum interpreting the building's role in the first day of fighting during the Battle of Gettysburg and as a field hospital as well as the subjects of religion in the American Civil War, Underground Railroad and United States Colored Troops from Adams County.
The Adams County Historical Society is now located on the south end of the Lutheran Theological Seminary campus at the Wolf House. The Wolf House was built in 1883 and was the home of Edmund J. Wolf (1840 - 1905), Professor of Ecclesiastical History and New Testament Exegesis (1874 - 1905) at the Seminary. Today, it is the location of the Society's archives and administrative offices.