Rochester Athenaeum collection
Scope and Contents
Additionally, the collection includes typed copies of the Athenaeum's charter, which was granted by New York State on February 12, 1830, along with two typed copies of an act to amend the Rochester Athenaeum's charter, approved by the New York State Governor on May 22, 1891. Although the Rochester Athenaeum changed its name several times throughout the 19th century, this amendment formally changed the organization's name to the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute.
The collection also includes excerpts taken from the Rochester Advertiser and the Rochester Telegraph. These excerpts focus on the activities of the Rochester Athenaeum from 1829-1831. There is also a series of documents related to the history of Reynolds Arcade, home to the Rochester Athenaeum.
Finally, the collection includes a list of materials owned by the Athenaeum and a bibliography of books written on the institution.
- Rochester Athenaeum (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
Biographical / Historical
Rochester is celebrated all over the Union as presenting one of the most striking instances of rapid increase in size and population of which that country affords an example. (v. 1, p. 153)
He later described the rapidly growing city in more detail:
Everything in this bustling place appeared to be in motion. The very streets seemed to be starting up of their own accord, ready-made, and looking as fresh and new, as if they had been turned out of the workmen's hands but an hour before – or that a great boxful of new houses had been sent by stream from New York, and tumbled out on the half-cleared land. (vol. 1, p. 160)
In 1826, several individuals got together to form the Franklin Institute in Rochester. This was one of the earliest examples of an educational organization in the city. The Institute, modeled after the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, promoted the field of science and scientific exploration and was supported by funds raised from various lecture series. Unfortunately, the Institute was not long-lasting. The same year the Institute was founded, the anti-Mason author William Morgan was supposedly abducted, never to be seen again. The incident, known as the "Morgan Affair," became a hot topic among the members of the Franklin Institute, as many of them were Masons.
With the Franklin Institute's membership divided over the Morgan issue, a physical split occurred. Members who wished to remain neutral on the topic left the Institute to form the Rochester Athenaeum. By 1833, the Franklin Institute permanently closed. The first meeting of the Athenaeum was held on June 12, 1829 and Nathaniel Rochester was chosen as the first president. For a $5 annual fee, individuals could use the Athenaeum's space in the Reynolds Arcade building for private events. More importantly, however, they could use the organization's collection of books and journals. These materials were not limited to the field of science, but spanned a variety of subject areas. On February 12, 1830, the Athenaeum was granted a charter from the State of New York, with the stated purpose of "cultivating and promoting literature, science and the arts."
Although the Rochester Athenaeum remained a prominent educational force in Rochester for many years, it ultimately fell into decline. As early as 1838, the Athenaeum began merging with similar organizations in an attempt to maintain its footing. Through these mergers, the organization eventually morphed into the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute, now known as the Rochester Institute of Technology.
1.4 Linear Feet (6 folders, 1 clamshell box)
C.S. South, Shelf 152
Other Finding Aids
Rochester Athenaeum collection
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Articles of incorporation
- Clippings (information artifacts)
- Learned institutions and societies -- New York (State) -- Rochester
- Libraries -- New York (State) -- Rochester
- Literature -- Societies, etc. -- New York (State) -- Rochester
- Rochester (N.Y.) -- History -- 19th century
- Rochester Athenaeum -- History
- Rochester Institute of Technology -- History
- Subscription lists
- Rochester Athenaeum collection
- RIT Archives
- Lara Nicosia
- 24 November 2010
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note