Office of the City Historian


Preserving and Interpreting Rochester's past

Required by New York State law since 1919, the City Historian is responsible for preserving and interpreting the city’s past. Duties fall into four categories: 1) research and writing, 2) teaching and public presentations, 3) historic preservation (documents, artifacts, and buildings), and 4) organization, advocacy, and tourism promotion.

The Office of the City Historian is located within the Local History & Genealogy Division of the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County. The office is staffed by the City Historian and Deputy City Historian.

City Historian  

Christine L. Ridarsky has served as City Historian since October 2008 and Director of Historical Services for the Rochester Public Library since January 2012. She has B.A.s in Journalism & Mass Communication and Political Science from Kent State University, an M.A. in American History from the State University of New York, College at Brockport, and is ABD toward a Ph.D. in American History at the University of Rochester. She is co-editor of the Rochester History  journal and co-editor of Susan B. Anthony and the Struggle for Equal Rights (University of Rochester Press, 2012).

Ridarsky has more than 20 years of experience in public history and archives, having served as Regional Archivist for the New York State Archives Documentary Heritage Program from 2002 to 2004 and as an archival consultant and professional historian since then. She has also taught history and writing courses at the University of Rochester and SUNY Brockport.

Ridarsky serves as a trustee and past president of the Association of Public Historians of New York State, the professional organization that represents the state’s 1,600+ government-appointed historians, and a member and past chair of the National Council on Public History’s Government Historians Committee.


Deputy Historian 

Michelle Finn was appointed Deputy Historian in June 2012. Her current projects in the Office of the City Historian include researching and developing content for Rochester Voices, the Rochester Public Library’s digital humanities website.

Finn is a member of the editorial board of the Rochester History journal and of the Association of Public Historians of New York State. She is also Senior Historical Researcher for the Rochester Public Library, where she supervises the Central Library’s Local History & Genealogy Division.

A proud graduate of East High School, Finn holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in American History from the University of Rochester. She has taught courses in Gender and Women’s Studies and U.S. Women’s History at the University of Rochester, the State University of New York at Geneseo, and Monroe Community College. Her essay, “William Marston’s Feminist Agenda,” was published in the anthology, Ages of Wonder Woman, edited by Joseph Darowski (McFarland, 2013).


Contact us  

 Office of the City Historian

 115 South Ave.
Rochester, NY 14604-1896
Phone: (585) 428-8095