Rochester Newspaper Index – Frequently Asked Questions

This page is intended to address some common questions regarding the Rochester Newspaper Index. Please note that the library does not have staff available to perform research on a patron’s behalf.

Which newspapers are indexed?

In the first series 1818-1850, they are:

  • LA, Liberal AdvocateMR, Monroe Republican
  • RDA, Rochester Daily Advertiser
  • RDAT, Rochester Daily Advertiser and telegraph
  • RDD, Rochester Daily Democrat
  • RDS, Rochester Daily Sun
  • RDT, Rochester Daily Telegraph
  • RGLA, Rochester Gem and Ladies Amulet
  • RO, Rochester Observer
  • RR, Rochester Republican
  • RT Rochester Telegraph
  • Wa or WM, Working Man’s Advocate

From, 1851-1897, they are:

  • RDA, Rochester Daily Advertiser
  • RDD, Rochester Daily Democrat
  • RDU, Rochester Daily Union
  • RR, Rochester Republican
  • UA, Union and Advertiser

There were numerous papers published simultaneously in Rochester for some time. The Index only contains references to items within the ones just mentioned. The copies made will be the best ones that can be made from the microfilms.


How can I search the index?

The information in the indexes is mostly in alphabetical order. Each volume has been bookmarked every 20 pages. You can either use the bookmarks to find the section you need or else you can use Adobe Acrobat’s “Search” feature to search each volume by keyword. The indexes have been scanned using optical character recognition (OCR) software.


How do I read an index citation?

An example follows.

Wickoff, Cornelius (Lodi), Married Mary A. Swarthout (Ovid), RDA N 30, 1847, 3-2 is deciphered as: Cornelius Wickoff, of the town of Lodi, [Seneca County], married a Mary A Swarthout of the town of Ovid [Seneca County], and the notice appeared in the Rochester Daily Advertiser of November 30, 1847, on page 3 column 2.

Note that there is no indication of how long the article is; no mention of what church or clergyman performed the ceremony or where; and note too that the names might be spelled differently. Wickoff is often indexed as Wyckoff; Nicols as Nichols, or Nickels; Wicks as Wickes, Wyckes, and so on. The index was created as part of a Depression era project, and took the spellings as they appeared in the papers.

The items appearing in the lower left hand corner of the cards are not important; they apparently were used to see who compiled and checked the original index.


How much does it cost to purchase an article from the newspaper?

There is no cost for articles, and you can order up to five (5) articles per form.


How do I order the articles in which I am interested?

Electronically complete and submit the Rochester Newspaper Index Order Form. There is no cost for articles, and you can order up to five (5) articles per form. Articles will be delivered physically by mail, or electronically via email or an e-file sharing system such as Dropbox or Google.


What type of information is in the database?

All news articles that were published in the newspaper are included; advertising matter is not indexed. The kinds of information that were reported varied from time period to time period throughout the 1800’s. In general, there were no birth notices; marriage and death notices might contain only the name(s) of the person(s) involved. Death notices rarely list survivors. Longer obituary articles were usually written only for public figures. Remember that the information that is indexed in this database was taken from the Rochester newspapers as it was printed.


There are four John Smiths listed in your database; I am not sure which is the one I want. Would you be able to look up the notices and tell me if any of them have a wife, Mary and daughter, Joan listed among the survivors??

We cannot check the newspaper microfilm for you due to staff limitations. However, you are welcome to come to the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County during the regular hours that we are open and view the microfilms to locate the correct notice. Click here for Library Hours.


I know my great-great-great-aunt Martha died on June 17, 1878 in Rochester, but her name does not appear in the index. Can you look in the newspaper for me anyway?

Unfortunately, we do not have staff to physically look through the years that have already been indexed. While it is possible that the indexers occasionally missed a name, it is just as likely that no death notice was published, or appeared elsewhere in the newspaper rather then under deaths and funerals. The degree of coverage of life events varied a great deal throughout the century. If you live in the Monroe County area, you may want to visit the library and search the newspaper microfilm in person. Please click here for library hours.


An ancestor was given up for adoption sometime in the 1850’s. Can I find the birth mother’s name in the birth listings?

There are no birth records in the newspapers for the 1800’s.


Can I look up the information on microfilm myself?

Yes, microfilm is available for viewing during all times that the library is open. Click here for Library Hours. Copies from the microfilm cost .15 per copy with a Print Card (available at the library checkout desk) or .20 per copy for cash. Microfilms can be viewed only at the Central Library, and are not available via inter library loan.


I need a great deal of research done, and I find it difficult to request just five index items per order. I also need someone to check other resources for me and find information on a number of ancestors who lived in the Rochester area. Is there a form I can fill out to have the library do this research for me?

Library staff are not able to undertake in-depth research for you. They can check general indexes and let you know whether names appear. However, if you need a great deal of information, and are unable to come to the library in person, you may wish to hire a local researcher to assist you. The library does not specifically recommend any one researcher, but you can request a current list of researchers-for-hire by emailing or calling 585-428-8370.


Why can’t I get newspapers for the 1800’s on-line?

While our goal is to continue to expand our digital library collections, please keep in mind that the scanning and indexing of a newspaper collection such as ours would be a very labor and time intensive project. We are continuing to research possibilities that will allow us to make this collection available on-line, but it is several years in the future.


Whom can I contact with questions or comments?

Please click here to contact the webmaster.