Using Rochester Images as a Source for Genealogical Research


Reference Sources Commonly Used in Rochester Images Research

Rochester Images will be an important new source of images and information for genealogical researchers. It will of course be valuable for those who are researching individuals who were prominent in Rochester history from Nathaniel Rochester himself to internationally known Rochesterians such as Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony.

However, Rochester Images will also be valuable for those researchers who are interested in less well-known individuals who are associated with Rochester. Any individual photographed by Albert Stone will be searchable as a subject heading. Just enter the surname as a subject search. In the other collections, individuals may be searchable by subject heading or by keyword. There are differences in the types of images pulled up by either keyword or subject. However, it is important to realize that a researcher may appreciate some of the additional information discovered in searching by keyword. An individual may discover his/her ancestor’s name on a storefront sign or listed as a donor in the notes field of the record.

Other types of information a genealogical researcher may be interested in are images and notes about an ancestor’s family business or place of employment. For example, try a subject search of grocery stores. Has an ancestor been depicted in front of his/her grocery store? What did storefronts look like during a certain time period?

Perhaps you are searching for images of schools your ancestor may have attended. Wouldn’t you like an image of a turn of the century classroom in Rochester? Search under the subject “Livingston Park Seminary” to see what young ladies of the period were wearing. Perhaps an unidentified person in a photograph will turn out to be someone familiar to you from other family photographs!

Maybe a person is compiling a pictorial family history and desires a picture of his/her ancestor’s church. Search all the Rochester churches by entering the subject heading “Churches”. If you know the name of the church, enter that. Be aware that in the past churches were subject to destruction by fire as well as involved in mergers, etc. In the case of additional buildings for the same denomination, the date the building was first used is a part of the subject heading. Any information we know about the building’s construction, additional names of the buildings or the fate of the building is listed in the summary field.

If a researcher wants an image of his/her ancestor’s residential street, there may well be an image in our collection. Street names are considered as subject headings. If a researcher wants images of typical Rochester housing stock at various times, try searching images of “Houses”. If an ancestor is well known, after the main subject listing the surname maybe you will find the subdivision “Homes and haunts” which means that is an image of a building related to that person’s life in some way.

In addition, anyone who wants to learn more about the sights of Rochester at the time of his/her ancestor will find a great deal of enjoyment merely by searching the entire database for a sense of the town in which he/she lived!


Reference Sources Commonly Used in Rochester Images Research:

  • Rochester City Directories (1827-present)
  • Rochester House Directories (1892-1920)
  • RVF Scrapbooks, Local History Division at RPL – contain newspaper articles for various topics including biography, domestic architecture, parks, churches, theaters
  • Other scrapbooks, Local History Division at RPL – including especially Historic Buildings of Rochester, Historic Homes in Rochester, Tengwall & Barton scrapbooks for obituaries and other articles
  • RPL Local History Division Newspaper Clipping File – newspaper clippings from the Gannett newspapers from the late 1930’s to present
  • RPL Local History Division Pamphlet File – miscellaneous pamphlets, fliers and other materials from the late 1930’s to present
  • RPL Local History Division Picture File – contains approximately 20,000 photos filed by subject
  • Rochester Historical Society Publication Fund Series – volumes published by the RHS dealing with local history
  • RPL Local History Division Newspaper Index – indexes local newspapers published between 1818-1903
  • Plat Maps – for years 1875, 1888, 1900, 1910, 1918, 1929, 1935-6
  • Sanborn Maps
  • RPL Local History Division Ready Reference File – provides quick answers for birth/death dates, information on buildings, streets, schools, churches, etc.
  • Rochester History  series (1939-present)
  • Books by former city historians Blake McKelvey and Ruth Rosenberg-Naparsteck
  • Indexes by Karl Kabelac, including Business, Pictures, Biographical Sketches, and View of Rochester & Monroe County

And other books on Rochester including:

  • Art Works of Rochester: “The Flower City”. W.H. Page, Chicago, 1896.
  • Devoy, John. History of the City of Rochester. Post Express Printing Co., Rochester NY, 1895.
  • Gordon, William Reed. 94 Years of Rochester Railways. Gordon, Rochester NY, 1975.
  • McIntosh, William H. History of Monroe County, NY. Everts, Ensign & Everts, Philadephia, 1877.
  • Merrill, Arch. Rochester Sketchbook. Gannett, Rochester NY, 1946.
  • Oleneck, Andy & Reisem, Richard. 200 Years of Rochester Architecture and Gardens. Landmark Society of Western New York, 1994.
  • 170 Years in One Square Mile. City of Rochester and Landmark Society of Western New York Inc, Rochester NY. 1982
  • O’Reilly, Henry. Sketches of Rochester. W. Alling, Rochester NY, 1838.
  • Peck, William H. History of Rochester and Monroe County. The Pioneer Publishing Company, New York, 1908.
  • Peck, William F. Landmarks of Monroe County, NY. Boston History CO., Boston, 1895.
  • Peck, William. Semi-Centennial History of Rochester. D. Mason & Co., Syracuse NY, 1884
  • Rochester Illustrated: Published in Twelve Parts. H. R. Page, 1890.
  • Schmidt, Carl & Ann. Architecture & Architects of Rochester NY. Rochester Society of Architects, Rochester NY, 1959.