The Local History & Genealogy Division is home to the Office of the Rochester and Monroe County Historian and the Monroe County Historical Archives. Under New York State law (New York Arts & Cultural Affairs Law § 57.07 and 57.09 and New York County Law § 400), every county, city, town, and village is required to appoint a historian to document, preserve, interpret, and share their community’s history. Click here for a list of town and village historians.
“Each local government historian shall promote the establishment and improvement of programs for the management and preservation of local government records with enduring value for historical or other research; encourage the coordinated collection and preservation of nongovernmental historical records by libraries, historical societies, and other repositories; and carry out and actively encourage research in such records in order to add to the knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the community’s history.”NEW YORK ARTS & CULTURAL AFFAIRS LAW § 57.07
The historian’s 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 County Historian is additionally tasked with supervising the activities of town and village historians.
Office of the City Historian
115 South Ave.
Rochester, NY 14604-1896
Phone: (585) 428-8095
Christine L. Ridarsky has served as the City Historian since 2008 and Director of Historical Services for the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County since 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, produced by the Central Library in partnership with the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Department of History and published by RIT Press.
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.
She 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 as a founding member and past chair of the Government Historians Committee of the National Council on Public History.
Deputy City 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).
Office of Monroe County History
Local History & Genealogy Division
115 South Avenue
Rochester, NY 14604
County Historian services are provided by staff in the Local History & Genealogy Division of the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County.
Monroe County Historical Archives
The Monroe County Historical Archives are temporarily unavailable while they are being moved from St. John Fisher University’s Lavery Library to the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Once the move is complete, the collection will be accessible in the Central Library’s Local History & Genealogy Division. Check back for updates!