Preserving and Interpreting Rochester's past
Required by New York State law since 1919, the City Historian is responsible for preserving and interpreting the City’s past. Duties fall into four categories: 1) research and writing, 2) teaching and public presentations, 3) historic preservation (documents, artifacts, and buildings), and 4) organization, advocacy, and tourism promotion.
The Office of the City Historian is located within the Local History & Genealogy Division of the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County. The office is staffed by a historian, a deputy historian, a historical researcher, and a clerk/administrative assistant. The office publishes the biannual Rochester History journal and operates the High Falls Center & Interpretive Museum.
Christine L. Ridarsky was appointed City Historian in October 2008. She has B.A.s in Journalism & Mass Communication and Political Science from Kent State University, an M.A. in American History from the State University of New York, College at Brockport, and is ABD toward a Ph.D. in American History at the University of Rochester. She is also Editor of Rochester History and Co-Editor of Susan B. Anthony and the Struggle for Equal Rights (University of Rochester Press, 2012).
Ridarsky has more than 10 years of experience in public history and archives, having served as Regional Archivist for the New York State Archives Documentary Heritage Program from 2002 to 2004 and as an archival consultant and professional historian since then. She has also taught history and writing courses at the University of Rochester and SUNY Brockport.
In January 2012, Ridarsky took on added responsibilities as Historical Services Consultant at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, giving her oversight of the Local History & Genealogy Division and the Digitizing Program, in addition to the Office of the City Historian.
Ridarsky lives in Charlotte with her husband and two children. She serves as a Trustee and Deputy Regional Coordinator of the Association of Public Historians of New York State, the professional organization that represents the state’s 1,600+ government-appointed historians ,and as a member of the Government Historians Committee of the National Council on Public History. She also sits on the advisory board for the Joseph Avenue Arts & Cultural Association.
Michelle Finn was appointed Deputy Historian in June 2012. A native Rochesterian and current city resident, she is a proud graduate of East High School and holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in American History from the University of Rochester, where she also earned a Graduate Certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies.
Finn's current projects in the Office of the City Historian include researching and developing content for Rochester Voices, the Rochester Public Library’s digital initiative to create an interactive, mobile-friendly website designed to engage K-12 students, as well as the general public, in the study of local, state, and national history as told through the voices of Rochesterians.
She also serves as Assistant Editor of Rochester History and is a member of the Association of Public Historians of New York State. She has taught courses in Gender and Women’s Studies and U.S. Women’s History as an adjunct instructor at the University of Rochester and Monroe Community College. Her essay, “William Marston’s Feminist Agenda,” was recently published in the anthology, Ages of Wonder Woman, edited by Joseph Darowski (McFarland).
Office of the City Historian
115 South Ave.
Rochester, NY 14604-1896
Phone: (585) 428-8095
Fax: (585) 428-8353