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Local History and Genealogy



Local History ROCs! blog 


Join us for the Local History & Genealogy Division's informative weekly and monthly programs. Parking is FREE on Sundays for library patrons in the Court Street Garage. 

Family Detectives Club 

 Season 3 


Weekly genealogy workshops every Sunday.      

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





Rochester's Rich History 

   View the schedule 


Monthly talks on a variety of local history topics.    

2-3 p.m. second Sundays, October-May   

Rundel Auditorium, 3rd floor, Rundel Memorial Building 


Join us for the next program in the Rochester's Rich History series!    

February 15, 2015 


Tea With Mrs. Jeffreys   

Presented by Robin Nowell 
Hester Jeffrey
Born in Norfolk, Virginia, activist Hester C. Jeffrey moved to Rochester from Boston with her husband in 1891. Meshing instantly with Rochester’s reputation for social reform, she quickly distinguished herself as a leader in the African American community. Mrs. Jeffrey was heavily involved in efforts to erect a bronze statue of Frederick Douglass in Rochester and was tireless in her efforts to organize African American women, founding the Susan B. Anthony Club for Colored Women in 1902 and serving as its first president. She would go on to form the Hester C. Jeffrey Club, which raised money for young black women to take courses at the Mechanics Institute, and The Climbers, a club for girls that aided the elderly and needy. Mrs. Jeffrey was also a member of several influential organizations, including the Afro-American Council, the Political Equity Club, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and the National Association of Colored Women. A close friend and associate of Susan B. Anthony, Mrs. Jeffrey was chosen to deliver a eulogy at her funeral. 

Join us for an afternoon with Mrs. Jeffrey and learn more about her fascinating life as an advocate for the causes of education, suffrage, and equality.     



 The map below gives an overview of the Local History and 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