The school was founded as the Washington Seminary during the American Revolution in 1779 by Rev. John Gabriel Gebhard, the pastor of the Reformed Dutch Church of Claverack. In 1830 the school was renamed Claverack Academy and in 1854 it became Claverack College and Hudson River Institute. At this point, the school became a quasi military academy for the male students. In 1890 student, Stephen Crane, who later became a prominent author, published his first article in the February 1890 Claverack College Vidette about the explorer Henry M. Stanley's quest to find the English missionary David Livingstone in Africa. Claverack College closed its doors in 1902. Its 22-acre (8.9 ha) campus was on the east side of what is today NY 9H just south of the Reformed Dutch Church of Claverack.. After its closure the land was divided and sold and the buildings razed. The George Felpel House, currently on the western half of the property, uses some of the school buildings' stones.
 Notable alumni and faculty
- Stephen Crane, author (said his time at Claverack was among the happiest in his life)
- John Clum, Apache Indian Agent, publisher of The Tombstone Epitaph, mayor of Tombstone, Arizona, and friend of Virgil and Wyatt Earp.
- Robert H. Morris (mayor), mayor of New York City
- Margaret Sanger, women's right advocate
- Martin Van Buren, 8th U.S. President
- General John P. Van Ness, U.S. Representative
- William P. Van Ness, U.S. District Judge
- Cornelius P. Van Ness, Governor of Vermont
- General Jacob Rutsen Van Rensselaer, NY Secretary of State
- Alexander Russell Webb, U.S. Ambassador to Philippines, early American Muslim
- Stallman, R. W. 1968. Stephen Crane: A Biography. New York: Braziller, Inc., p. 24
- Claverack College and Hudson River Institute Claverack, Columbia County,New York By Captain Franklin Ellis (1878) http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ny/county/columbia/clav/clavcolhudsoninst.htm
- Gazetteer and business directory of Columbia County, N.Y. for 1871-2 (Printed at the Journal office, 1871) pg. 106-108
- Gazetteer and business directory of Columbia County, N.Y. for 1871-2 (Printed at the Journal office, 1871), pg. 106-108