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Williams Academy was founded by Thomas and Amelia Blackthorn in 1891, as The Northampton Learning Institute. The schools aimed to educate young people who had limited access for education because of family income. The Blackthorns hoped to inspire generations of curious and committed lifelong learners.

Academic standards, facilities, endowment resources, curricular and extra-curricular offerings, the size of the faculty and student body, admission applications and annual giving have strengthened and expanded in recent years. Williams Academy has consciously nurtured and enhanced a vibrant campus life, and today, both young people and adults here cite the diversity of the school community as a crucial element of living and learning. In 1995, the campus underwent major renovations after a generous donation from the Beecham family. This including the construction of three new dorms (Harper, Tweedy and Collins), the addition of a state-of-the-art science lab and performance auditorium.

Students and faculty at Williams Academy, as varied and exciting as they are, attract others who want to learn and to teach in a stimulating environment. One of Williams Academy's strengths is maintaining a campus life that optimizes the benefits of a boarding school and a day school. The full involvement of both of these student populations in the life of the school enhances and broadens the experience of each of the respective groups. Both boarding students and day students lead and participate in all aspects of School life.

Williams Academy distinguishes itself by building a vital and effective community based on self-confidence and respect of individuals.  The School fosters an atmosphere of intellectual freedom and responsibility and encourages initiative and the open exchange of ideas. Doing so demands considerable energy. Teaching and learning at Williams Academy are active processes, encouraged and supported by common respect for the intelligence, talents and potential of each member of the School.