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Collection on George Eastman

 Collection — Folder: 1-2
Identifier: RITArc-0278

Scope and Contents

The Collection on George Eastman mainly consists of clippings and articles regarding Eastman and his many philanthropic works and legacy, including the Eastman Building at RAMI and the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film. The collection is notable for two letters written by Eastman. The first, sent to the Trustees of RAMI, is typewritten and dated 1891. The second is handwritten, and was sent to Ezra Andrews in 1892. Last, the collection includes two booklets: Kodak Park in War Time (circa 1917) and George Eastman: A Brief Biography of the Founder of Eastman Kodak Company (1953).


  • Creation: 1891-1991
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1930 - 1985

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

Born in 1854, George Eastman left school at age 14 to support his mother and two sisters. He worked in a real estate office, insurance firm, and later, as a bookkeeper for Rochester Savings Bank. During this time, he experimented with photography, and in particular with improving dry plates. In 1880 he opened the Eastman Dry Plate Company, which would eventually become Eastman Kodak.

Eastman was a noted philanthropist, establishing the Eastman School of Music and the Eastman Theatre. He also supported the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Rochester Civic Orchestra, University of Rochester, and the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute (RAMI), a precursor to RIT.

In 1900, Eastman promised to fund a new facility for RAMI. The Eastman Building officially opened its doors on April 15, 1901, and was designed by J. Foster Warner, a Rochester-based architect who had designed several other buildings in the Western New York region, including the George Eastman House. Eastman worked closely with Warner, providing his own insight into how the new RAMI building should be designed. At Eastman's suggestion, a lunchroom and recreation area were included and the building was made to be fire-proof. Since the project was starting from scratch, the layout was able to be configured so as to best accommodate RAMI's programs. For instance, rooms were grouped together in clusters for the various programs and a library was installed. Ultimately the building was shaped like a letter "E" and was connected to the old building (which still housed the manual training program) by a bridge on the second floor.

By 1932, Eastman was in ill-health, and on March 14, Eastman died by a self-inflicted gunshot to the heart. Over the course of his lifetime, Eastman had given away some $100 million to cultural groups and educational organizations.


2 Folder(s)




The Collection on George Eastman contains clippings, correspondence, and publications documenting the life of philanthropist and inventor George Eastman.


Materials are roughly arranged by format.

Physical Location

C.S. South, Shelf 783, Box 2A

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Amy Vilz in November 2011.

Collection on George Eastman
RIT Archives
Amy Vilz
04 November 2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA