Local history

Genealogy / Local History Center

Rhinebeck is an area rich in local history. With families settling here hundreds of years ago, there is a wealth of information available on genealogy.

The Starr Library maintains a Local History Center in the lower level of the library organized by the Consortium of Rhinebeck History through a grant from the Thompson Trust. Hours are Tuesday and Thursday from 10AM to 3PM. Please call 845-430-4479 to let us know you are coming, or email us.


Welcome to Our 150th Year

A message from Starr Library Director Steven Cook:

The Starr Library turns 150 this year, and we have three words we think summarize our ideals: Read, Learn, Enjoy.

As one of the oldest libraries in the state and we work now as we did then to serve the community by providing both educational and recreational opportunities for our citizens. Organized in 1858 and recognized by the State in 1862, we began as The Starr Institute, a gift of Mary R. Miller in honor of her late husband, NY Congressman William Starr Miller.

When we first circulated books in 1862, there were almost seven hundred titles available for borrowing. Today, we own nearly 40,000 items, and they’re not just books: DVDs, music CDs, e-books and more all are available at the Starr Library.  You can see how we have grown by comparing our beautiful current library with the historic Starr Institute building in the Village. We outgrew that space in the 1970s, and have continued to grow — serving parents and kids looking for books, community groups meeting and helping others, writers and students doing online research, travelers checking email, and senior citizens looking for a new bestseller in large print.

I am but one in a long line of library directors here at the Starr.  Understanding how my predecessors have built the fine establishment that exists today, I work with the staff and Board to continue to improve and serve Rhinebeck for the next 150 years. Please join us as we celebrate our anniversary throughout the year. It’s our sesquicentennial — but we don’t think we look our age at all.


Starr Library History

Former trustee and local historian, Kay T. Verrilli tells the full “History of the Starr Library.”