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Mechanics Institute library accession registers

 Collection — Volume: 1-3
Identifier: RITArc-0233

Scope and Contents

Mechanics Institute accession registers consists of 3 volumes listing items added to the Institute Library collection, circa 1890-1907. The first 2 volumes entries include accession number, class, author, title, publisher, binding, place of publication, source, cost, and remarks. The last volume lists items by subject: Art, Science, Industry, Literature, and Miscellaneous with the following caveats:

  • "Engineering books can be found under Miscellaneous and Industry.
  • Books on Domestic Science are found under Science or Miscellaneous.
  • Books relating to mechanical drawing and Architecture under Industry.
  • Books relating to Domestic Art under Industry and Miscellaneous."
  • Dates

    • circa 1890-1907

    Creator

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open to researchers.

    Biographical / Historical

    The Rochester Athenaeum was established in 1829 with the "purpose of cultivating and promoting literature, science and the arts." To this end, the organization established a library and sponsored various guest speakers and performers. Still, by 1838 the Athenaeum had already merged with several institutes. Some organizations, like the Rochester Literary Company, it simply absorbed; others it merged with out of necessity. The result was that by 1838 the dominant organization in Rochester was the Rochester Athenaeum and Young Men's Association (RAYMA), headed by newspaper man Henry O'Reilly. In two short years, RAYMA had over 2,500 volumes in its collection and 409 members.

    Unfortunately for RAYMA, O'Reilly left Rochester in 1842. RAYMA found itself competing for members with another Rochester institution, the Mechanics Literary Association. Formed in 1836 by William A. Reynolds, the Mechanics Literary Association was geared toward a younger audience. In 1847, the Mechanics Literary Association merged with RAYMA to form the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics' Association (RAMA), with Reynolds serving as its first president.

    Reynolds's first order of business was to move RAMA's operations from State Street to a new location. To this end, he financed the construction of Corinthian Hall behind Reynolds Arcade, the original home of the Rochester Athenaeum. The building construction sparked renewed enthusiasm in the organization so that soon RAMA had over 2,000 members. The hall not only housed RAMA's extensive library collection, but also hosted various lectures. Many of these lectures were given by notable individuals including Salmon P. Chase (politician), Charles Dickens (novelist), Frederick Douglas (social reformer), Ralph Waldo Emerson (writer), Horace Greeley (newspaper editor), and William H. Seward (politician).

    Despite its initial success, RAMA eventually fell on hard times. With the opening of the West, Rochester's prosperity was slowing. Additionally, the cost of bringing in speakers was becoming increasingly expensive. In 1871, Reynolds was forced to sell Corinthian Hall. He provided RAMA with a new space in the back room of his bank, the Rochester Savings Bank. But, when Reynolds died in 1876, RAMA was forced to vacate the space. The financial situation of RAMA had become so dire that in 1877 creditors forced the sale of RAMA's library collection.

    The Mechanics Institute, established to provide needed technical training for skilled workers in industry, was founded in 1885 by Captain Henry Lomb, Max Lowenthal, Ezra Andrews, Frank Ritter, William Peck, and other Rochester businessmen and other influential citizens. The first class offered at the newly formed Mechanics Institute was mechanical drawing, held in the evening on November 23, 1885. The community response was overwhelming. More than 400 students enrolled in the Institute. Lomb was the first president of the Board of Trustees and guided the direction of the Institute until his death in 1908. Eugene Colby was appointed first teacher and principal of the Mechanics Institute. All funds for running the school were donated by the citizens of Rochester and instruction was free for the first year.

    In 1886, Fine Arts classes were added to the Institute's course offerings. Included were freehand drawing, architectural drawing, and design. Tuition was $8 a term for drawing, $12 for painting and modeling. Evening classes were free. The Mechanics Institute flourished, and in 1891, it merged with RAMA to form the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute (RAMI), bringing under one roof cultural education and practical technical training.

    Extent

    3 Item(s) (3 Volumes)

    Language

    English

    Overview

    Mechanics Institute library accession registers consists of 3 volumes listing items added to the Institute library collection, circa 1890-1907.

    Arrangement

    Volume entries are in alphabetical order.

    Physical Location

    C.S. South, Shelf 157

    Processing Information

    Finding aid created by Amy Vilz in August 2011.
    Title
    Mechanics Institute library accession registers
    Subtitle
    RIT Archives
    Status
    Published
    Author
    Amy Vilz
    Date
    12 August 2011
    Description rules
    Describing Archives: A Content Standard
    Language of description
    Undetermined
    Script of description
    Code for undetermined script
    Language of description note
    English

    Repository Details

    Part of the RIT Archive Collections Repository

    Contact:
    RIT Libraries
    Wallace Center
    90 Lomb Memorial Drive
    Rochester NY 14623 USA
    (585) 475-4613