The Monroe County Library System holds a wealth of local history information available for researching. Libraries provide a connection to history of people who lived in or passed through our towns and cities. Various collections include circulating and reference books, atlases, family histories, genealogies, periodicals, government imprints, and pamphlets. The MCLS also is your source for genealogy research, providing public access to regional and national indexes and databases.
Libraries are connectors and guardians to the history of people who lived in or passed through our towns and cities. The Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County provides a broad collection of western New York historical and genealogical materials; many member libraries maintain collections of materials central to their towns and villages. In all MCLS locations, staff can connect residents as well as visitors to appropriate collections and finding aids for anyone seeking their roots. Online local history tools and resources include:
- New York Heritage brings together digital collections from libraries, museums and archives statewide, including collections of the MCLS.
- A listing of local municipal historians is maintained on the Government Appointed Historians of Western New York website.
- The MCLS maintains contact information for local municipal historians.
- Rochester History is a regular journal produced by the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County covering the history of Rochester and western New York.
- Rochestervoices.org engages students and the general public to study history by exploring stories and primary source materials of notable Rochester residents.
Below is a brief summary of historical and genealogical materials held by MCLS libraries.
Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County
Local History & Genealogy Division (on the 2nd floor of the Rundel Memorial Building), 115 South Avenue, Rochester NY, 14604, (585) 428-8370
Regions served: Rochester and the Genesee Valley. The collection includes thousands of books, pamphlets and ephemera, maps, photographs, and numerous other items. The Local History & Genealogy Division has city directories from 1827; suburban directories from 1930; an index to local 19th century newspapers; an extensive, searchable newspaper clipping file; microfilmed census records; and extensive manuscript collections. The Division also maintains a collection of trade catalogs of various businesses in Rochester and the Genesee Valley region. The School Heritage Collection features dozens of local high school yearbooks which can be viewed online.
Brighton Memorial Library, 2300 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester NY, 14618, (585) 784-5300
Regions served: Brighton, with limited Monroe County, Rochester, and Genesee Valley information. Collections include local government documents, town historian and record microfilms, photographs, slides and films, Brighton-Pittsford Post newspaper 1932 to present.
Chili Public Library, 3333 Chili Avenue, Rochester NY, 14624, (585) 889-2200
Regions served: Chili, some material related to Rochester, Monroe County, and the Genesee Valley. Collections include environmental studies, photos (slides), plat books, high school yearbooks, and oral histories.
Fairport Public Library, 1 Village Landing, Fairport NY, 14450, (585) 223-9091
Regions served: Fairport and Perinton. Collections include Monroe County Mail, 1885-1925, Fairport Herald Mail, 1873-1992 and Perinton Fairport Post, 1989-present.
Henrietta Public Library, 455 Calkins Road, Rochester NY, 14623, (585) 359-7092
Regions served: Henrietta. Collection includes grave records, obituaries, tax rolls, military records, a local news index, maps and more.
Ogden Farmers' Library, 269 Ogden Center Road, Spencerport NY, 14559, (585) 352-2141
Regions served: Ogden. Collection includes maps, diaries, family histories, books, microfilm and online databases. The library also hosts an active group of genealogy volunteers from the Western Monroe County Genealogical Society.
Penfield Public Library, 1985 Baird Road, Penfield NY, 14526, (585) 340-8720
Regions served: Penfield. Collection includes cemetery records, genealogical information, clippings and files related to Penfield's history, some artifacts, Penfield High School yearbooks, books on the history of Penfield, and Penfield newspapers from 1951 to the present.
Scottsville Free Library, 28 Main Street, Scottsville NY, 14546, (585) 889-2023
Regions served: Wheatland and Scottsville. Collection includes cemetery records, obituaries, plat maps, photographs, newspaper clippings, journals, family indexes, diaries, and a cultural survey of Wheatland historical sites by the Landmark Society of Western New York.
In addition to the MCLS’ local historical collections, emphasizing Monroe County and the Genesee Valley region, the library supports visitors getting started in genealogy. Your library card provides free access to premium genealogy databases, while our extensive bibliographies, indexes and abstracted items support the advanced researcher. Resources include the following:
- Ancestry.com – MCLS libraries subscribe to this premier resource, available on-site at library locations.
- Heritage Quest – a partner of Ancestry.com includes the Federal Censuses, bank and military records, and other local sources. Access is available anywhere with your library card.
- Life Records Database - birth, death, and marriage indexes from the Democrat and Chronicle. A fee-based article search and retrieval service from the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County.
- Local Directories - digitized City of Rochester directories other directories from Monroe County.
- New York State Vital Records Index – Located at the Local History Division of the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County; provides birth and marriage records from 1881 and death records from 1880.
- Rochester Newspaper Index – digitized references to articles that appeared in Rochester newspapers from 1818-1897.
The MCLS has prepared a Research Guide to assist those seeking historical and genealogical materials in Rochester and Monroe County. Genealogy indexes and pathfinders, compiled by volunteers and staff of the Central Library, point to source material located in the Local History & Genealogy Division of the Central Library. Learn more about the Local History & Genealogy Division.