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Rochester Athenaeum and Young Men's Association collection

 Collection — Folder: 1
Identifier: RITArc-0031

Scope and Contents

The Rochester Athenaeum and Young Men's Association (RAYMA) collection contains documents related to the organization's activities. In addition to a flier that outlines RAYMA's functions and regulations, the collection includes a photocopy of a flier that announced an anniversary celebration for the "Landing of the Pilgrims." Similarly, the collection includes a flier for RAYMA's organized activities in honor of the death of President William Henry Harrison.

The collection also includes a list of speakers for the Rochester Athenaeum from 1844-1871. Although the document lists the individuals as "Rochester Athenaeum Speakers," the events held in 1844 were actually for the Rochester Athenaeum and Young Men's Association.


  • Creation: 1838-1871


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

The Rochester Athenaeum was established in 1829 with the "purpose of cultivating and promoting literature, science and the arts." To this end, the organization established a library and sponsored various guest speakers and performers. However, by 1838 the city's Young Men's Association had become the dominant social force in Rochester. Started by Henry O'Reilly, the association was formed in response to the city's economic depression and first murder, committed in 1837. Members promised to help each other maintain a high standard of moral conduct by supporting each other and attending sponsored events such as educational lectures. With the Rochester Athenaeum's numbers continually declining, the two organizations agreed to a merger in 1838, forming the Rochester Athenaeum and Young Men's Association (RAYMA).

Continuing in the footsteps of its predecessors, RAYMA offered members access to a books, reviews, newspapers, and scientific specimens. The organization also sponsored notable guest speakers, such as Elihu Burritt (activist), Chester Dewey (botanist), Edward Mott Moore (surgeon), and Erasmus Peshine Smith (lawyer). In addition to these, members could attend lectures twice a week during the winter season on various educational topics.

To ensure that the organization remained current, a rule was set restricting active membership to individuals under the age of 35. This was to ensure that those who could vote on issues affecting RAYMA were in the organization's target audience and full of fresh ideas. Although RAYMA continued to prosper for some time, O'Reilly's departure from Rochester was a strong blow to the organization. By 1847, RAYMA merged with the Mechanics Literary Association (established 1836) to create the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Association. After several more mergers and name changes the organization became the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1944.


4 Item(s) (1 folder)




Materials relating to the Rochester Athenaeum and Young Men's Association (RAYMA). A predecessor of the Rochester Institute of Technology, RAYMA was formed in 1838 when the Rochester Athenaeum merged with the Young Men's Association. The collection contains fliers for RAYMA activities, as well as a list of individuals who gave lectures to the organization.


Materials are arranged chronologically and are contained in a single folder.

Physical Location

C.S. South, Shelf 151 (Early records)

Other Finding Aids

In addition to this finding aid, an inventory is available below. For more information, please contact the RIT Archive Collections.

Rochester Athenaeum and Young Men's Association collection

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Lara Nicosia in November 2010.

Rochester Athenaeum and Young Men's Association collection
RIT Archives
Lara Nicosia
30 November 2010
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