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Special Collections: 19th, 20th, and 21st Century Social Justice and Activism Resources: Archival Material

This guide will help you navigate the 19th, 20th, and 21st Century Social Justice and Activism collections in the Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation (RBSCP)

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Searching for Archival Material

Archival material includes unpublished records such as letters, diaries, financial records, and photographs. Information about our archival collections may be found online in the Subject Guide to the Collections. You can also browse the A-Z list of archival collections (the link is below). Our finding aids are processed at different levels. Some include item-by-item level descriptions and others are processed at the folder or box level. 

Archival Social Justice and Activism Collections

Rochester was a hub of activism in the 19th century. Our collections include information about activist strategies, personal correspondence between activists, material related to the intersection of politics and social change, and material related to those who would keep the status quo in place. Activism topics include women’s rights, abolition, temperance, prison reform, land reform, education reform, dress reform, animal rights, and anti-vivisection reform, immigration reform, diet reform; including vegetarianism, and Native American rights.

Rochester's role as a center for activism and social justice continued throughout the 20th century, as Rochesterarians fought in the labor movement and for civil rights. Our collections include the work of individual activists, records related to activism political movements and politicians, and groups working on issues such as segregation, redlining, education, employment, and housing. 

We define activism as any concerted effort to affect social change. 

Links to Finding Aids

Assistant Director, Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation

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Autumn Haag

Areas of Expertise

  • 19th Century Social Justice and Activism
  • Black History and Culture
  • Literature, including Bibliographic and Book History and Children’s Literature
  • Political History; 19th century and Midge Costanza
  • Rochester and Regional History
  • Women’s History
Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation
Rush Rhees Library
Room 225
755 Library Road
University of Rochester
Rochester, NY 14627