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Local History and Genealogy

Read our blog for the latest news and updates: Local History ROCs! 


Join us for Local History & Genealogy's informative weekly and monthly programs.

   Parking is FREE on Sundays for library patrons in the Court Street Garage.  

Family Detectives Club  

Season 3  

/uploadedImages/MCLS/Local_History_New/FamDetClub_poster.jpgWeekly genealogy workshops every Sunday.      

   1:15-1:45 p.m. October-May in the Local History Division 


January 2015    February 2015    March 2015 



Rochester's Rich History

Monthly Sunday afternoon lectures on a variety of local history topics, May-October, in Rundel Auditorium, 3rd floor, Rundel Memorial Building

View the schedule  

Join us for the next program in the Rich History series:

2-3 p.m., March 15, 2015  

"If My Life is But Spared"

Presented by AKWAABA, The Heritage Associates, Inc.


 Austin Steward, Thomas James, and Frederick Douglass were significant figures in both the local and national anti-slavery movement during the nineteenth century. All three men were determinedto be free and worked tirelessly in the struggle for the liberation of their much-abused kinsmen and women at great personal risk. Born in different states at different times, each was rocked by the loss of family members.  

Join us for a fascinating first-person reenactment presented by AKWAABA, the Heritage Associates, who will give voice to the three men as recalled by Austin Steward of Canandaigua. Steward, the first of these freedom fighters, will evoke the struggle to overcome the personal and spiritual trauma that Rochester—and America—had to face in order to keep moving toward “a more perfect union.”  

AKWAABA, The Heritage Associates, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization devoted to the use of oral history to present Underground Railroad tours, enactments of historical events, and presentations that reflect the dignity and perseverance of the community of Afro Rochester. 


The map below gives an overview of the Local History & Genealogy web site; click on it for a full-size view   

image map thumbnail - local historyThe Local History and Genealogy Division offers expert in-person reference service, as well as telephone and email service for quick reference questions. All materials in the Local History and Genealogy Division are restricted to use within the department, but a significant and growing portion of the collection is available online. Also, as many materials are old and fragile, photocopying is restricted, but patrons may bring in equipment to photograph items.






The Local History and Genealogy Division and its partners have digitized photographs, books, manuscripts, maps, directories, postcards, and other items for easy access and for the preservation of original print material held within selected local collections in Monroe County. The thousands of items found here represent the rich history of the Rochester region. They are of interest to anyone researching local history and genealogy. Collections throughout the county can now be searched at one online location, thanks to the cooperation of many partner institutions.

The Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County boasts one of the premier collections of local historical and genealogical materials in western New York, while smaller municipal libraries have built collections of materials relevant to their particular towns.

The sections listed below are links to extensive materials held by the Central Library's Local History and Retrieval Divisions and by various town libraries.

The information provided by these various resources will help researchers find answers to questions about the history of Rochester and Monroe County, and will aid genealogy researchers looking for family information. What is provided online, however, is only a very small part of all the collections held at the libraries in Rochester and Monroe County. The information here will help you get started, but visiting our libraries will speed you on your way.

Genealogy Resources - a variety of helpful tools and guides for researching family history and finding information on past residents of Rochester and Monroe County

Local History Resources - various resources covering the history of Rochester and western New York

Rochester Images - historic and contemporary photographs, maps, postcards and other memorabilia from Rochester and Monroe County

Digitized Collections  - historic books, newspapers and magazines of local interest that can be viewed online or downloaded and printed

Pathfinders - guides to special topics

News - includes information on new items available online

  Monroe County WebsiteCity of Rochester Website