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 "Old Dorm," the oldest building on the Lutheran Theological Seminary Campus in Gettysburg. Completed in 1832, this building was last used as a dormitory during the 1953-1954 school-year. The Historical Society first occupied this building in 1961.
In 1976, the building was named Schmucker Hall in honor of the Seminary's founder, Samuel Simon Schmucker. On the morning of July 1, 1863, it was the largest building on Seminary Ridge (the other two being the residences of professors), and was a key point along the Union line as the Confederate Army approached from the west and then later from the north. During the afternoon of July 1, the Union troops were forced to retreat through the town of Gettysburg, leaving Seminary Ridge in Confederate hands. "Old Dorm" became one of the first field hospitals at Gettysburg, into which the wounded of both sides were carried. During the battle the building suffered significant damage, but the Seminary authorities were able to repair it 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 building could be rehabilitated and converted into a new museum. The Adams County Historical Society is now located on the south end of the Lutheran Theological Seminary campus at the Wolf House. Built in 1883, our building was originally 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.