Archival Collections

pMarketHorsesThe Archival Collections contain the corporate history of the city as well as illustrate the social, religious and public health of the community. The records offer insight on public policy in the community that shaped the ideas of local individuals such as Susan B. Anthony and Walter Rauschenbusch.

Some of the outstanding examples of Archives materials include The Minutes of the Proceedingsfor both The Trustees of the Village of Rochesterville from 1817-1834, and The Rochester Common/City Council from 1834-1987.

For further information on the development of the City of Rochester, resources can be found in volumes written by Dr. Blake McKelvy, City Historian Emeritus as well as the Frederick Douglas Resource Center.

The Archives

The history of Rochester's representative government over the entire course of the city's history can be found here. The first collection of archives contains information of the first formal government of Rochester, which was then a small, pioneer town. These handwritten volumes contain the earliest laws and ordinances for Rochester. The Archives offer a unique, first-hand look at how the 19th century settlers built this community and governed themselves. The minutes for the Rochester Common Council, which was later changed to City Council, date back to the year 1834 when Rochester was first incorporated as a city. After its incorporation, the growth of Rochester continued and the way government administered in response to that growth can be found in these records.

  • Municipal Register of City Officials for 1834-1921: The names, official titles and length of terms for all city officials during this period are kept in two large ledgers. The names were entered annually and it is clearly noted in the volumes whether each official was elected or appointed to their post. 
  • Correspondence and Office Files of Mayors, City Managers and Department Heads: These files offer a public record of the information used by the city's decision makers in the government of Rochester. The records are part of the permanent collection because they are a cohesive group of unique records which cover significant periods in the city's development. The files include topics such as housing, transit, urban renewal projects and the use of Rochester's natural resources (i.e. the Genesee River). The many reports and studies related to the urban crises of the 1960's are of particular interest as they examine the many factors which contributed to the deterioration of many American cities during a time of nationwide conflict.
  • Register of City Streets for 1834-1921:This resource in the Archives lend a careful eye to the city's past. Although these files are not as widely referred to as the records of elected officials, the files are still part of the Rochester historical tapestry as an abundance of facts rest within its files. It is a two-volume set with records of the dates of street openings, dedications and name changes.
  • Register of Marriages for 1876-1907: These archives are records for each marriage that took place within the City of Rochester during this period. The register lists names, residences, ages, race, occupations, birthplaces, parents' names and even the number of previous marriages, where applicable.
  • Field Assessment Cards for 1927-1980: All the information concerning residential/commercial property and previous owners/residents of the property can be found in these archives. Countless other facts about every plot in Rochester can also be found in the Field Assessment Cards. Many files include drawings and/or photographs of the buildings. Researchers can easily trace the history of the property they are researching by using these materials. 

Click here to learn how to gain access to City Records.