We moved!

We are open by appointment for research - call 585-623-8285 or email wkeeler {at} rochesterhistory(.)org to make arrangments. Some of our items are in storage, but we will do our best to answer questions and have items available for loans.



Travel back in time to discover the rich history of Rochester, New York. Learn about the beginnings of a village built on the frontier and how it “boomed” into a major city. Re-visit the times that challenged our city, and reminisce how we made and spent our money. The presentations currently available are:

Rochesterville on the Rise

In 1817, when “Rochesterville” was first chartered, it was a small settlement overshadowed by much larger towns such as Canandaigua, and even Bath. It was even overshadowed by other settlements up and down the Genesee that are now within the city limits. Hear how this unassuming village, bracketed by the Four Corners and the High Falls, become the center of a growing city that eventually swallowed up other once-promising settlements along the Genesee.

Rochester, Young Lion of the West

1820s: During this decade Rochester was the fastest growing community in the US and the nation’s first inland boomtown. Prosperity centered on the flour industry. Enriched farmers created demand for all sorts of products. Eventually, however, the center of the flour industry moved West, leaving Rochester without the industry that had defined it. The westward shift of the flour industry was an economic as well as psychological blow to the city, because the boomtown image was inextricably tied to flour. This presentation looks at Rochester’s rise to boomtown status, as well as its fall.

The Civil War at Home

Rochester in the 1850s and 1860s, and its role in the Civil War.

The Rise of the Big Three (Kodak, Xerox, Bausch & Lomb)

As recently as the 1980s, one of every 3 workers in Rochester was employed by Eastman Kodak, Xerox, or Bausch & Lomb. These Big 3—as they are known—became not only the basis for most of the city and regional economy, they also became central to Rochester’s identity. They meant something nationally as well. These three companies became known nationally, and even internationally, and dominated their industries to such an extent that they resulted in new words and expressions that were universally recognized.

Rochester Goes Shopping

In the mid-1800’s when mass production began creating all sorts of home appliances, ready-made clothing, canned goods and the like, goods once available only to the wealthy became inexpensive enough to be available to a growing middle class. With this came the department store, which quickly learned the importance of fantasy, indulgence, and convenience to customers? Shopping became not just an errand, but an experience, and, advertising became an important component of this.

Rochester Mobilizes for the Great War

In 1914 the world was thrown into the Great War. Although the United States did not officially enter the war until 1917, learn how Rochester participated in the war economy and prepared for eventual entry into the war. Once the United States had declared war, Rochester was an All –American patriotic city.

Rochester in the 1918 Influenza Epidemic

In the fall of 1918, the Great War was coming to an end. However, another great war was just starting. This was the war against influenza, an epidemic that killed millions worldwide in just a few short months. Rochester was not immune from the ravages of influenza. This presentation explores how Rochester dealt with the epidemic they knew was coming and knew would be deadly.

Each presentation consists of a Power Point assisted lecture along with appropriate artifacts and takes about an hour. Questions are taken after each presentation.

Presentation Price Schedule: Any 1 = $150 Any 3 = $400 Any 6 = $750 All 7 = $700

Presented by:
Daniel D. Cody M.A.
American Historian
Collections Manager/Registrar of the Rochester Historical Society
Adjunct Lecturer, American History, Finger Lakes Community College
Please call 585-880-0258 or email codycannon2 {at} frontiernet(.)net for more information and to schedule a presentation.

Rochester Historical Society
1100 University Avenue
Rochester, NY 14607