Monday, September 9, 2019

Geneva Historical Society

Name: Geneva Historical Society
Address: 543 S Main St, Geneva, NY 14456
Phone: (315) 789-5151

On Route 14 at the edge of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, you must find a place to park along the street in Geneva. Fortunately, spaces seem to be fairly open during the weekday afternoon that we visited. The houses along this street speak to being built and owned by Victorians of some means. The backyards of the houses on one side of the street overlook Seneca Lake and most properties probably extend to the shoreline.
The historical society is housed in a substantial brick house. The main floor and some of the basement has exhibits of the local area that are free to browse and the staff are very welcoming. Tucked into a corner of the basement is the brightly lit room with a simple sign over the entranceway “Archives.”

The research room is open Tuesday- Friday from 1:30- 4:30 pm. Photocopies are 25 cents each and there is a daily research fee of $5.00 for non-members.

The archives while having some material on Ontario County, is concentrated mostly on the city of Geneva. There are indexes that list the people mentioned in old newspapers and records of the cemeteries. Looking in one of these books, I was able to see where the unmarked graves of some distant relatives are located in the Washington Street Cemetery.

Among the records are some information about the old Geneva College that was once there as well as their most famous student. In a time when it was thought that the medical field was most unsuitable for women, Geneva College admitted a woman student and on January 11, 1849 she graduated at the top of her class. The woman? Elizabeth Blackwell, MD, the first woman to earn a medical degree in the United States.

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