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About this collection

The Geneva Historical Society, a non-profit educational corporation, is committed to preserving and interpreting the collective heritage of Geneva, New York and its environs. Through its collections, educational programs, collaborations with other organizations, historic properties, and the Fund for Historic Geneva, the Geneva Historical Society preserves Geneva's past and cultivates an appreciation for Geneva history.

Geneva Civil War Collection:

The Geneva Civil War Collection is comprised of manuscripts related to Geneva-area soldiers of the Civil War. A majority of the collection is comprised of letters from fallen soldiers written to their families back home. Soldiers' diaries, invoices and bills related to supplies from local companies, and pictures of families post-wartime are also included, among other items

Geneva Historical Society Postcard Collection:

The Geneva Historical Society Postcards Collection contains views of Geneva and its people, buildings, and other interesting views. Many are in color, ranging from the 1890s to about 1970. The majority appear to be from 1900-1930. Many have personal notes on them, which have been transcribed. This collection is a subset of a larger physical collection which contains variant views of many of the items pictured therein. 

Geneva James G. Vail Collection:

James Gardiner Vail (1842-1929) was a photographer in Geneva, NY. The James G Vail collection is a collection of over 500 photographs taken in the Geneva NY area from circa 1862 to 1880. They include streetscapes, people, businesses, and building interiors and exteriors, as well as some lake and rural scenes.

John R. Dixon Papers:

A collection of materials surrounding the life of John. R. Dixon, a Civil War veteran from Naples, NY. After moving to Geneva, Dixon served honorably in the 9th NY Calvary. After the war ended, Dixon moved to Texas and Missouri for a brief time, and then returned to Geneva to live with his sister. He died in Naples, NY in 1927, at the age of 95.

Stereograph Card Collection of Geneva:

James Gardiner Vail (1842-1929) was a photographer in Geneva, NY. These are predominantly his works, though there are other photographers included.  These stereograms (precursors of the common ViewMaster stereoscopes and "reels", which are thin cardboard disks containing 3-D versions of a view) are inserted into a viewer held in the hands.  They generally have a standard format, and enjoyed several waves of popularity from the 1850s to the 1930s as a home entertainment medium.  Typical stereograms provide each eye with an image seen so that it appears larger and more distant and usually also shifts its apparent horizontal position, so that for a person with normal binocular depth perception the edges of the two images seemingly fuse into one "stereo window". Nearly all these stereograms deal with Geneva, NY in the late 19th century and show a wide range of buildings, scenes, people, and activities.

William Henderson Baird Collection:

Baird was an officer in the 126th NY Regiment during the Civil War. His brother David Wray Baird was a noted merchant in Geneva NY. Baird was let go from the Army for his behavior during the battle at Harper's Ferry, but was successful in proving his bravery there and was reinstated to command later in the war. The papers are various genealogical, biographical and service related documents of the two men.

Platt Benson Oakley Photograph Collection

Platt Benson Oakley (27 Nov 1894-27 Jan 1982) was born in Norwich, NY. He was a journalist for more than 50 years, working for various papers in Geneva and Syracuse. He had an extensive collection of photographs.  He is buried in Glenwood Cemetery in Geneva. This collection contains images of the Geneva, NY area taken during World War II, including views of people, places, organizations, and various activities.


William Suydam Letters

Contains letters written by Private William Henry Suydam home to his parents while he was serving the the 128th Regiment during the Civil War. After the war, Suydam became active in Geneva civil life.


Geneva NY City Directories

The Geneva City Directories collection includes directories from 1862-2000. The directories contain an alphabetical directory, including a telephone directory of all residents over 18 (when available). Directories also include detailed information concerning each a civic section of local interest, a complete buyers' guide and classified business directory with special listings for nationally advertised brands. In some directories, a street guide and householders' directory showing telephone numbers arranged by streets is included.

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