Special Collections

Digitized Collections

View digitized Special Collections materials, including the Frederick Douglass Paper, at New York Heritage.

A more searchable index of these newspapers is available at Historical Newspapers of the Rochester, New York Region: http://www.rrlcnewspapers.org/.

Mission Statement

Lavery Library Special Collections seeks to collect, preserve, arrange and provide access to the rare and unique materials housed in the collection in order to promote the use of these materials by the St. John Fisher College community, scholars and the public.

Collection Development Policy

The focus of the collection is Social Conflict & Discovery.  The collection encompasses items from 1829-1961, but concentrates on the years 1865-1914. Geographically, the collection focuses on the Rochester Region and New York State. 

Click here to read the full Collection Development Policy.


Book of Kells

The Book of Kells” is a Latin Version of the New Testament, transcribed by Irish monks over 1000 years ago. The original of the ancient manuscript, “The Book of Kells,” is permanently housed in the library at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.  The facsimile at Lavery Library, St. John Fisher College is Number 765 of a limited edition of 1480 books worldwide. It was purchased in 1991 as a gift to St. John Fisher College and the Rochester Community by Irish immigrants, Irish-American descendants, friends, and members of the Monroe County Chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Ladies Auxiliary.

Frederick Douglass Collection

Abolitionist Frederick Douglass spent 25 years of his life (1847-1872) in Rochester, New York. This was his base as he published The North Star, Frederick Douglass' Paper, and Douglass' Monthly. Lavery Library is fortunate to have original copies of 147 of these enormously influential newspapers. The most important piece of this collection is the February 22nd, 1850 issue of The North Star. Douglass incorporated an intricate drawing of a slave running to the North Star in the masthead. Research has revealed that Lavery Library possesses one of the few known print copies of this special edition in the world.

The following newspapers have been digitized and are viewable on New York Heritage:

George P. Decker Papers

George P. Decker (1861-1936) was a Rochester attorney active in Native American land claim cases. The "Decker Papers" collection contains documents written by Decker, legal transcripts and petitions, letters and other materials. During the three-decade span of his professional career, George Decker represented the Onondaga, Tonawanda, Cattaraugus, and the Allegany Reservations. He also was involved in representing land claims by the Senecas and Cayugas in New York and Canada. Decker’s correspondence with Chief Deskaheh, Speaker of the Six Nations Council, concerns the League of Nations and the sovereign rights of indigenous peoples.

Anti-Slavery/Abolitionist Newspapers:

The library has several different Anti-Slavery or Abolitionist newspapers, including 132 issues of the Anti-Slavery Standard, 10 issues of the New National Era, 11 issues of Radical Abolitions, and seven issues of Susan B. Anthony’s The Revolution.

The following newspapers have been digitized and are viewable on New York Heritage:

The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)

The Grand Army of the Republic was an organization of the union veterans of the civil war. There were also two women’s auxiliary groups, Woman’s Relief Corp and the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic. The Lavery Library Collection includes Proceedings and Journals of the Annual Encampments for New York and several other states, Adjutant General reports, the GAR Blue Book, Memorial Day History annual reports, personal war sketches of posts and soldiers, items by the National Women’s Relief Corp, and correspondence of the GAR Flower Committee. Artifacts include photographs, ribbons, flags, and a jacket. The large portion of the Library’s collection stems from the years preceding 1920.

Native American Collection

Most of the Native American Collection is comprised of the Rev. Alexander M. Stewart Collection. The Stewart Collection, a donation from the local Baptist minister and archaeological enthusiast, comprised of photographs, artifacts, personal notes and notebooks about digs in New York State, bulletins, correspondence, and 101 books. The Byrne Papers are the correspondence and personal notes of Monsignor Edward Byrne. He worked to erect five different monuments in New York State regarding Native Americans.

Rochester Radio History Collection

The Rochester Radio History Collection, housed in the MacMillan Radio History Room, contains historic equipment, photographs, and documents specific to the radio broadcasting industry in Rochester, New York, with a special emphasis on WHAM history and personalities. In addition to books and documents, audio is available of interviews with people in the areas of radio production, management, and on-air personalities. Audio is also available of radio shows and broadcasts.

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