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Christine L. Ridarsky

Rochester City Historian

Christine Ridarsky

Christine L. Ridarsky was appointed Rochester 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 Editor of the Rochester History journal and Co-Editor of Susan B. Anthony and the Struggle for Equal Rights (University of Rochester Press, 2012).

Ridarsky has more than 14 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 serves as a Trustee and Deputy Regional Coordinator (Region 11) 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 founding 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.

Currently, Ridarsky and Deputy Rochester City Historian Michelle Finn are leading a community-wide collaboration to celebrate the 100th anniversary of New York's woman suffrage amendment in 2017. A highlight of the collaboration will be an exhibit scheduled for June-August 2017 in the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County. The exhibit will be co-curated by and feature items from the collections of several local cultural institutions, including the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, the Rochester Public Library, the Rochester Museum & Science Center, the University of Rochester, and the Rochester Institute of Technology. The collaborators are also partnering to develop a community-wide website and events calendar and to co-sponsor or support events throughout the year. Ridarsky will be presenting a paper on woman suffrage in the state at the Researching New York conference in Albany in November. Indeed, with 2017 fast approaching and the anniversary of the federal suffrage amendment in 2020, woman suffrage will be focus for Ridarsky's work for the near future.

Ridarsky is also spearheading an effort to restore one of the City of Rochester's pioneer cemeteries. The Rapids Cemetery was established circa 1810 and is the burial site for Rochester pioneers and veterans from the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War. Unfortunately, after the private cemetery association that managed the site was disbanded in the 1940s, the cemetery was abandoned and deteriorated. Today, few headstones remain standing. Over the past several months, community volunteers have begun clearing brush and locating fallen headstones. In October, the City will contract with a gravestone restoration expert to teach a hands-on, two-day course at the cemetery. Up to 30 people, including City employees and volunteers, will learn proper techniques for cleaning, repairing, and resetting stones so that they can continue the restoration process on their own in coming months.

Other projects Ridarsky and her staff have underway include improving public access to the records in the Office of the City Historian by entering them into an online searchable archives management system; documenting graffiti art in an abandoned subway tunnel (also the former Erie Canal aqueduct) (this also will be the focus of a session at Researching New York); and working with City officials and neighbors to restore a World War I cannon, improve the historic park it sits in, and develop interpretive panels discussing the park's history.

Ridarsky also manages the High Falls Center & Interpretive Museum, http://www.cityofrochester.gov/highfallsmuseum/ .

For more information or to contact Christine Ridarksy, please visit:  http://www.cityofrochester.gov/historian/ .