Sources Relating to the University of Rochester


The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections in Rush Rhees Library collects printed and manuscript material relating to the history of the University and is always eager to aid researchers in the use of this material. Below is a brief overview of the main sources for basic information on the University. Copies of all of the material are in the Department's collection, and in some cases the material is duplicated in the general stacks. Call numbers preceded by "Rare" indicate the only copy is available in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.

There are five general histories of the University: Jesse L. Rosenberger, Rochester: The Making of a University (1927) (LD 4728 .R81ro); the centennial history, The University of Rochester: The First Hundred Years (1950) (LD 4728 .A12u); Arthur J. May, A History of the University of Rochester, 1850-1962 (1977) (LD 4728 .M3);  the sesquicentennial history by Jan L. Waxman, Beside the Genesee: a Pictorial History of the University of Rochester (2000) (LD 4733 .W39 2000) and Janice Bullard Pieterse's Our Work is But Begun (2014) (LD4733 .P54 2014). The original typescript of the May book, which is somewhat longer than the book as published, is available in the Department and online. It is especially useful for research purposes as it has the footnotes, which were omitted in the published version.

Various divisions and aspects of the University's history have received separate treatment. Among these are Jesse L. Rosenberger, Rochester and Colgate: Historical Background of Two Universities (LD 4728 .R81r); Charles Riker, The Eastman School of Music, its First Quarter Century, 1921-1946 (LD 4735 .E13r) and his supplement,The Eastman School of Music, 1947-1962 (LD 4735 .E1r); and Vincent Lenti, For the Enrichment of Community Life: George Eastman and the Founding of the Eastman School of Music (LD 4735.E13 .L44 2004) and his Serving a Great and Noble Art: Howard Hanson and the Eastman School of Music (LD 4735 .E13 L45 2009). There will be a third volume to this history. 

Also, those on the School of Medicine and Dentistry: George A. Whipple, Planning and Construction Period of the School and Hospital, 1921-25 (Rare LD 4735 .M48Zw) and the book, The Quarter Century, A Review of the First Twenty-Five Years, 1925-1950 (LD 4735 .M48q). The year 1975 saw the 50th anniversary of the Medical Center and the appearance of two publications to note this fact, A Pictorial History, Fifty Years of Medicine at Rochester (Rare LD 4735 .M48Zf) and a 32-chapter book of historical essays, To Each His Farthest Star, University of Rochester Medical Center, 1925-1975 (LD 4735 .M48Zt). The year 2000 saw the 75th anniversary of the Medical Center and the publication of The University of Rochester Medical Center: Teaching, Discovering, Caring: Seventy-five Years of Achievement, 1925-2000 (LD 4735 .M48 2000).

The history of the Institute of Optics is covered in Carlos Stroud, ed., Jewel in the Crown: Essays in Honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Institute of Optics (LD 4735 .I5 J49 2004). The history of the Memorial Art Gallery is found in Elizabeth Brayer's Magnum Opus: The Story of the Memorial Art Gallery: 1913-1988 (N719 .B73 1988). 

The biographies of our first three presidents also contain information on the history of the University. They are: Asahel Clark Kendrick, Martin B. Anderson, a Biography(LD 4725 .A33k); Aubrey Lawrence Parkman, David Jayne Hill (a PhD dissertation; AS 38.621 .P24d) and his book based on this dissertation, David Jayne Hill and the Problems of World Peace (LD 4725 .H64p); and John Rothwell Slater, Rhees of Rochester (LD 4725 .R46s).

An excellent source of University information for the years they exist (1899-1959 and 1974 - date) are the printed annual reports of the University Presidents (LD 4702 P93r). For many years they also included reports of the various divisions of the University such as the Eastman School, the School of Medicine and Dentistry, the Library, and the Treasurer. The Treasurer's report has been published as a separate publication from 1958 to 1978 and from 1988 to 1996/97 (Rare LD 4702.5 .Alr). Also useful are the Financial Statements, 1979-1988 and 1997 to date (LD 4702.5 A12).

Another basic source of University information is the collection of "college catalogs." The Department maintains complete runs of catalogs of the various divisions of the University. They generally include a short history of the University and division, a description of buildings and facilities, discussions of programs and requirements, lists of faculty members, and in years past, often lists of the students. The call number for the undergraduate catalog is LD 4707 .A1c; for the graduate catalog it is LD 4707 .G73b. Online copies of the current issue of the Undergraduate Studies Bulletin and the current issue of the Graduate Studies Bulletin are also available on the internet.

Yearbooks are good sources of information on the classes and their activities and also for photographs of University people, places, and events. The Interpres (LD 4747 .I62) as we know it goes back to the 1890s, although it began in 1857 as a somewhat different publication. The College for Women also had its own yearbook, The Croceus (LD 4747 .C93), from 1910-1941. The Department also maintains a collection of individual photographs relating to the University.

Short biographical sketches of alumni through the Class of 1927 (and also lists of faculty and trustees through 1927) can be found in the General Catalogue (1928) (LD 4723 1928). Since 1975 various directories of living alumni have been published, the last being in 2009 (LD 4721 .R56a U54 2009). Also useful are the various alumni publications such as the Rochester Review (1922-date) (LD 4749 .R671), which is a good source for alumni and University history. For example, the great growth of the University in the 1920s is well documented in its pages. The Review is online from 1922-1996 here, and from the fall 1996 issue to the present here,

The directories of the faculty and staff (1936 - 2008/09) (Rare LD 4710 .Ald) are often useful in identifying people. Beginning in 2009, this publication is no longer being issued, but is being kept continuously current at <>. The college catalogs also list faculty members, administrators, and trustees. Student directories (uncataloged) of which we have a rather complete file, are also helpful. The "Frosh Directory" (Rare LD 4710 .A12f) serves both as a directory and a photographic record in that it has individual pictures. And although not University archival sources, our complete runs of city directories (1827-date) (F 130.15 .R67; with 1827-1930 also available online) and suburban directories (1930-date) (F 130.15 .R672) are very helpful in identifying people. There are also almost complete runs for recent decades of these two directories in the general stacks.

Student papers and University news publications are often useful in checking a fact. Runs of the Campus Times (LD 4747 f.C197) (the student newspaper) and predecessors going back over a century, and runs of such current faculty/staff information sources as Currents (Rare LD 4747 .A1cu) are available in the Department. Both of these publications are also available on microfilm in the Newspaper and Microform Center (located within the Business and Government Information Library): Campus Times is Film .C223 (and antecedents The Campus is Film .U554 and the Tower Times Film .C442) and Currents is Film .C8822. An online edition of Currents (beginning with the March 26, 1996 issue) is also available on the Internet.

Our Ephemera file, arranged chronologically with a folder for each college year, contains miscellaneous material related to the University. Typical material might be an exam, or a program of a student activity, of a century or more ago, or a flyer of a student organization of the 1980s.

The Department also has holdings of manuscript archival material of historical value, such as the papers of former presidents of the University. Permission must be secured from the office that released it to us to consult some of the material of this nature.

This short essay is meant to give a summary of the basic sources of information relating to the University and its history. The Department welcomes questions on any aspect of the University and its history and is always glad to discuss sources for more involved research projects.

For questions or futher information, contact
Melissa S. Mead
John M. and Barbara Keil University Archivist and Rochester Collections Librarian
Department of Rare Books & Special Collections
University of Rochester Library 

10th Rev. 2017