Shenandoah is located in Pennsylvania's anthracite coal region, 105 miles (169 km) northwest of Philadelphia. Settled between 1820 and 1835, growth boomed during the Civil War years with the development of several anthracite coal mines.
The early population of English, Welsh, Irish and German immigrants was joined by a large numbers of peoples from Eastern and Southern Europe around the turn of the 20th century. The 1910 census counted 25,744 residents. Decline of the anthracite coal industry after World War II caused a sharp reversal of the community's prosperity.
Famed bandleaders Tommy Dorsey and Jimmy Dorsey were born here in 1905 and 1904.