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Semester Spring 2018 Archives Over 300 Items! A quick sample:

Shot Omeka.jpg

Main Street EastGarment Worker StrikeOmeka Douglass Statue

Imagine Fest RIT

Great reception from Rochester residents interested in two great and related projects in progress showcased at the event–lots of questions about the history of our city! Industry transition from tailoring to optics.

Tailors Screen shot:

Principlal Occupations.jpg

Full Story Map: Big Five Tailors

Bausch & Lomb Screen shot:

B&L ENGL322 Imagine.jpg

Full Story Map: Bausch & Lomb

Imagine Fest RIT

University/Community Partnerships & National Endowment for the Humanities

— Enjoying the crowd!


Literary Geographies

Storytelling and creative mapping to explore both fictional and real places. How can literature create a spatial understanding of community–memory, scenes, landscape.

Garment Workers strike of 1913, Rochester. Museum & Science Center

Store Fronts on Central Park 1922. Rochester Museum and Science Center

Bausch and Lomb property on the corner of Lowell and Martin Streets, circa 1916. Rochester Museum and Science Center

The entrance and front wall of Corpus Christi Church, as seen looking north from East Main Street 1993. City Hall Photo Lab

Eastman Kodak Platt Street Area 1920. Rochester Museum and Science Center

City atlas of Rochester, New York. [map]. Plate 10 1875. Rochester Public Library

Science Technology and Society

Documenting historical forces shaping industrialism, immigration, technological innovation, and environmental change. Public Market 1905 and Public Market 2018.

STSO Hands That Feed Us

This is a collection of photos of the Rochester Public Market in 2018. Also pictured are the vendors, the vehicles that they have arrived in the original vendor stations and the indoor market. — 2018 photos, Amelia Sykes

History: Rochester Reformers

Rochester is known for legendary reformers like Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. But there have been generations of hidden Rochesters reformers who fought to improve city life for all residents. Here are a few example:

Women of the Seneca Nation: This is a photograph of an exhibit at Ganondagan State Historic Site depicting the influence of Seneca women on American suffragists in the 19th century. Women’s rights reformers like Matilda Joslyn Gage were inspired by women’s political power in the Iroquois Nation. Text Panel from an Exhibit at Ganondagan. (Project by Celeena Berry, RIT Student)

Dr. Robert Panara: This photo depicts a young Robert Panara during his teaching career at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C.. He was the first Deaf professor at Rochester Institute of Technology. In 1965, he advocated for the establishment of the National Technical Institute of the Deaf (NTID) on RIT’s campus. Gallaudet University Archives. (Project by Kelly Morgan, RIT Student)

The Legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted and Charles Mulford Robinson: Photo of Highland Park, one of Olmsted’s designs. Monroe County Library. Olmsted helped design several Parks in Rochester as a way to improve city life during industrialization. Rochesterian Charles Mulford Robinson was one of the nation’s leading advocates of the City Beautiful movement and he advocated for the creation of parks throughout Rochester in the late 19th century, including what became Highland Park. Robinson Drive in Highland Park is named in his honor. Robinson is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery. (Project by Stephen Havey, RIT Student)

Photographs of the Rochester Public Market, photographer Rowan Ogilvie, ENGL 322

BeFunky CollagePM

Field Trip to the Rochester Public Market

BeFunky Collage

Community Experts Martin and Tony visit NEH Classes

BeFunky CollageMT

Martin Pedraza and Tony Apollonio Provide students with memory of work and industry in their community. Tony provided personal stories of his father’s tailoring business, and described what what was called Fashion Row in Marketview Heights. Martin told his story about working in optics at a nearby Kodak plant. They also talked about gardens, food, and schools – advocacy for their neighbors and the way communities come to be.

Martin Pedraza and Tony Apolloni smiling together

Successful Project Launch

Data Demonstration with 50 students from 3 classes. In one lab.
Students uploaded metadata and files to course spreadsheets.


And then into Omeka.


Thanks to the Rochester Public Library and the Rochester Museum and Science Center, we found some gems — digitized old photos of the Rochester Public Market. Thanks to our great team of Digital Scholarship Collection experts. Lizzy Carr, undergraduate in Museum Studies and Digital Humanities and Daniel Krull, recent graduate of Museum Studies. And Rebekah Walker, our Digital Humanities and Social Science Librarian at RIT!!! Stay tuned!

Rich Holowka, Marketview Heights, Rochester, NY

I enjoyed listening to the professors and the students, many of whom asked good questions. One question (or comment, perhaps) stuck with me. A student noted that what Tunya & I were describing seemed to be a vision for the future that restored the past, recapturing what we held dear.

Leaving aside the inevitable tendency to wax nostalgic when describing the past, that comment hints at a way to understand the challenges of redeveloping a community, esp as a “community.”

A neighborhood like Marketview Hts was not created as a community. It was the result of a long process of economic transactions starting with the appropriation of land from the natives. In every successive act, land was divided and subdivided, with the sole intention of economic gain, from agriculture to residential/commercial development for its owners who were (largely) indifferent — when not hostile — to the succession of inhabitants.

At some point — my guess would be 1905, with the NY Central RR tracks and the relocation of the Public Market from downtown — socially elevated Germans began abandoning the area and Italian immigrants moved in. This would coincide with the establishment of settlement houses in the first decade of the 20th C.

In what now seems like an historical anomaly, the area remained cohesive for an extraordinarily long period of time, at least by US standards. The turnover of property and the process of internal migration, so characteristic of the US, slowed in that period, and a community — unplanned, as it were, yet multi-generational — was allowed to develop — as it did (at least in Rochester) in other — especially ethnic — neighborhoods as well.

Into these areas came African Americans, many with South Carolina origins, after WWII and later Puerto Ricans. By then, the process of buying/selling had begun to accelerate with expansion into suburbs; and owing to racial discrimination, these groups became as “settled” in the neighborhood as the ethnic immigrants, but with far greater social and economic constraints.

Yet paradoxically, the experience of occupying the same area instilled a similar sense of place: as evident in celebrations of Clarissa St neighbors, for example, one of the oldest African American neighborhoods in Rochester and, of course, North Clinton Ave for Puerto Ricans.

As difficult as circumstances may have been — and I can recall scores of stories by old timers about how rough the neighborhood was even in its heyday — a sense of camaraderie and shared experience sustained the residents and imparted a rosy glow to the area, even if a pale reflection of the type of affinity common in communities where people live for generations, as is the norm in Asia, Europe, Africa, Middle East, etc

My point: this camaraderie and sense of place or community were not consciously created or planned. No one involved in the original development had a vision or a mission statement — other than perhaps personal financial gain of the original developers.

People attempting to “re-imagine their neighborhood” in the US assume a huge burden, undertaking a task that troubled none of their predecessors: how to be fair and generous to everyone living in the community. And…how to do so without the considerable financial and political resources afforded those who typically “develop” communities — or at least, build housing tracts, strip malls, office parks, etc.

Understanding this situation would go a long way to recognizing the challenges involved in any type of “revitalization.” It also helps understand the dilemma of gentrification.

Map of the city of Rochester, 1879 wards

Selection from Map of the city of Rochester, 1879, with wards

Frederick Douglass at 200 in Rochester, NY

Rochester had a reputation as a hotbed of reform *well before* famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass settled here in 1847. There was an unheralded woman named Phoebe Rey, who lived in Rochester’s old Fifth Ward and began a crusade to integrate city schools in the 1830s and 1840s. Part of today’s Northeast Quadrant, Rochester’s old Fifth Ward – like the rest of the city – had segregated schools in Phoebe Rey’s time. She and other African American parents pushed back against this injustice and eventually compelled the city to allow black children to attend the same schools as white kids. None other than Frederick Douglass saluted Phoebe Rey and her activist colleagues as true pioneers of race reform.


STSO – Industry, Environment, & Community

Students are in the archives and finding resources to document Rochester industrial histories. Here is the early start:


The Erie Canal was among the major routes for transportation of goods to and from Rochester. This image, taken in 1897, presents barges carrying various products across the aqueducts. The first aqueduct to cross the Erie Canal over the Genesee River was built in the fall of 1821 and completed in September of 1823.

The image is supplied by The Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County.


Professor Ann Howard, Director of RIT University / Community Partnerships, and her Associate Director Jane Amstey, invited community experts from Marketview Heights to talk to RIT students. Tunya Griffin has lived in Marketview Heights for 29 years. She described the neighborhood as it existed, she says, “back in the day,” as a place of Mom & Pop store owners. Business owners lived in the neighborhood and employed neighborhood residents – people considered themselves as an the extension of a large family. Everyone took care of each other – they shared a meal or a cold tea on a porch or just conversation on the block. At the center of Marketview Heights: the Public Market. Tunya described herself as a “marketer.” She remembers having conversations with regular local farmers who brought fresh produce to the market grounds. There was local and affordable food with family amusements. The market opened in 1905 and according to the city, “combines the traditions of owner-operated family enterprise, and healthy farm-fresh quality with the values of buying direct from the producer.” Today, Tanya says, the Rochester Public Market remains active and bustling, but gives off a different vibe. More business vendors, more specialty stands, more high-end delicacies. The streets adjacent are lined with breweries and boutique restaurants. Nevertheless, the Public Market remains the grounding for this neighborhood. There are other, however, important sites that define the place, for example, Goodman Plaza and Central Park. For Tunya, Marketview Heights offers a community not possible in other Rochester spaces and so she has acted very locally. She serves as Captain for Block 5. Her community work includes strategic planning, collective action, and capacity building. She also works for the community gardens . . .

Watch for more updates on  the Public Market and the Community Gardens . . .

Marketview Heights, City of Rochester



Professor Ann Howard, Director of RIT University / Community Partnerships, and her Associate Director Jane Amstey, invited community experts from Marketview Heights to talk to RIT students. I’ll first summarize a few of the the really amazing stories told to the group by Rich Holowka, who is a lifetime resident of the neighborhood. He told students about the streetscape that characterized this neighborhood as he was growing up. He described Clifford Street as a kind of cascading storefront with barbers and coffee shops and clothing stores. These were businesses in which the shop owners not only new customers by name but held memorable conversations with them. As he explained, work and residence were much more integrated. He describes an “urban village” that was multi-generational  and multi-ethnic. And very tight knit (one was never alone). He also talked about the Fashion Park. This area of Rochester was a center for one of Rochester’s major industries – tailoring. He can recall women working a third shift in what were known as cottage houses. At night they would gather in homes to cut and sew fabric for extra income. Our final project will include more details. But Rich also emphasized changes, good and bad, that the neighborhood has experienced. many of these changes can be attributed to “redlining” – More on Marketview Heights and redlining and the federal Home Owners’ Loan Corp. (HOLC)’s assessment of the 14605 in the future of these course updates . . .

Rochester NE redlining

Finding Aide for Local Archives. Created by Daniel Krull.

Research Guide screenshot

Spring Semester is off to a great start. All three classes met on Tuesday, the 16th, for the first time! Our students are already beginning to ask smart questions . . . But we are all ready to jump into the archives. Amazing Finding Aide built into Omeka, created by Daniel Krull, B.S. in Museum Studies from RIT. Students will definitely know where to go to find Rochester local history. And we will continue to build this aide!


Our expanded team at the end of Fall semester! Richard Newman, Lizzy Carr, Jane Amstey, Ann Howard, Rebekah Walker, Daniel Krull, Christine McCullough, and Kristoffer Whitney. Happy to have our Coordinator of University/Community Partnerships, the RIT DHSS Librarian, and students in our DHSS & MUSE undergraduate programs join us. On screen: an intersection of community and code as we prepare for the creation of a digital memory collection. We are preparing for a grand experiential learning opportunity in general education. Ready to make things happen at RIT and with one Rochester Community in Spring 2018! #NEH

AugPubLibrNEHOur small NEH Grant Team for the Humanities Connections program started at The Rochester Public Library Local History Division with City Historian, Christine L. Ridarsky. We’ve been following those research questions and archival leads as we develop innovative syllabi to engage students in their city–one with a tradition of civic and industrial reform and of changing landscapes and diverse populations. As faculty, we’ve learned new details about Frederick Douglas’s local fights for school desegregation. We’ve found more history about the garment industry and immigration, as well as union movements. And we have learned that this local history lives in the city’s wards and neighborhoods. Now we are excited to share some of these stories with students.

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