Collection inventory

Finding Aids
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Genesee College Collection

An inventory of the collection at the Syracuse University Archives


Creator: Genesee College
Title: Genesee College Collection
Dates: 1849-1929
Size: 22 boxes and 2 map case drawers (11.9 linear feet)
Abstract: The Genesee College Collection contains administrative, financial, student, faculty and printed materials that document the history of the school.
Language: English
Repository: University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Ave., Suite 600
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010
Sponsor: The processing of this collection was made possible through a grant from The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

Historical Note

Genesee College

Genesee College was founded by the Genesee Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church for the purpose of training men and women for service in the Methodist Church. It was chartered on 27 February 1849 and was created as an advancement of the Genesee Wesleyan Seminary that was already functioning as a secondary educational institution in Lima, Livingston County, New York. The trustees of Genesee Wesleyan Seminary felt that an institution for further higher education would be well received at Lima, and Benjamin Franklin Tefft was appointed as the president of this new college.

During the 1840s and 1850s, Genesee College endeavored to raise funds from the local population to construct more buildings on the site in Lima. The trustees of the college and seminary agreed for the transfer of one half of the latter’s property, real and personal, to the college. They agreed on joint use of the property and, in return, the college would pay all seminary expenses “now and forever” and assume all debts, which was a provision that would become an issue later in the existence of the college.

Genesee College offered two types of course: the College course and the Scientific course. The College course was based on the Classics, which included anatomy, physiology, geometry, geology, Analogy of Religion and modern languages such as French and German. The Scientific course focused on chemistry, mathematics, economy, religion, as well as French and German. From the opening of the college, candidates for admission to the freshman class of the College course were examined in the following studies: English grammar, geography and history; arithmetic and algebra through quadratic equations; Bullion's Latin Grammar, Latin Reader, Virgil's Aeneid, Sallust and Cicero's select orations; and Bullion's Greek Grammar and Reader. Candidates for the Scientific Course were examined in the same studies excepting the Latin and Greek. It was possible to earn the degrees of Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science or Master of Arts.

Prayers, with the reading of the Scriptures, were attended daily in the College Chapel. All students were also required to attend public worship on Sundays, in the morning at one of the churches in the village and in the afternoon in the College Chapel. Tuition was $8.50 per term with an additional charge of one dollar for science subjects. A small fee was also charged for use of the library. Students tended to board at the college for a fee of $2.12 to $2.50 per week. It was presumed that the entire expenditure of a student, exclusive of books and incidentals, would not exceed $100 per annum. Scholarships were available for financial support. By 1870, tuition was being offered free of charge by the Board of Trustees.

Registration to Genesee College at first increased with 48 students in the first year, 78 the following, and rising to a peak of 142 in 1862. However, from then on, the enrollment declined. Though there is no evidence that the Civil War had any appreciable effect, it is possible that the growth of the University of Rochester, only about 25 miles away, may have affected the college.

Another potential factor in the decrease in popularity of the college was the agitation surrounding its possible move to Syracuse with its more central location, better transport links and economic prospects. In 1869, Genesee College obtained New York State approval to move to Syracuse, but the people of Lima, afraid to lose such an important local institution, obtained a court injunction to block the move. This, together with the obligations of the college to financially support the seminary, resulted in the college remaining in Lima until it was dissolved, due to lack of students, faculty and funds, in 1875 under New York State law by petition of its board of trustees.

Syracuse University was granted its charter by the state of New York in 1870 and was founded independently of Genesee College. When the University opened in 1871, the Genesee College libraries, some students and some members of faculty moved to the University. Genesee College alumni were given the opportunity to receive Syracuse University degrees and many took this opportunity.

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Scope and Content Note

The Genesee College Collection covers the years 1849 to 1929 and so spans the whole period of its existence as well as the years following its disbanding. There are materials relating to the administrative and financial aspects of the college including endowments, records and account books as well as student and faculty records and materials printed for the college. The collection provides an insight into coeducational higher education in upstate New York early in the second half of the nineteenth century. Many of the materials have genealogical research value, especially the financial and educational records of students, faculty and staff from this period. Around half of the collection is made up of individually-boxed bound volumes.

The collection is arranged into eight series:

The Administrative materials relate to the running of the college and cover correspondence and college senate operations.

The Alumni series features applications from Genesee College alumni for Syracuse University degrees. There is also correspondence from an alumnus and a book focused on the alumni records of several institutions including Genesee College and Syracuse University.

The Faculty series contains minutes from faculty meetings, which include lists of professors and departments of the college.

The Financial materials series comprises account books logging the finances of all aspects of the college such as food, maintenance, farm, office, and labor, as well as student account books specifically covering tuition and board.

The John Morrison Reid papers are of the president of Genesee College (1858-1864) but do not feature records from his administration. Correspondence, memoirs, an essay written by Reid about the missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church and a scrapbook of newspaper clippings make up this series.

The Printed materials series focuses mainly on college catalogues, which cover the majority of years of the college's existence and contain lists of students in attendance. There are also programs covering college societies, commencements, concerts, exhibitions and prize declamations. Also included are a speech made by John Lord, founder and pastor of the Central Presbyterian Church, before the literary societies at the commencement of Genesee College as well as a satirical commencement program.

The Students series documents their time at the college and includes class lists, records of achievements, withdrawals from the college and records of student societies. The student withdrawals document students who voluntarily left the college in the last year of its existence to pursue education somewhere else. Some of these students can be found in the graduate lists from Syracuse University in the early 1870s. Two photograph albums contain images of students from the class of 1859 with some hand written notes by students concerning their time at the college. The photographs of the class of 1861 are attached to a large mat to make a composite, that would once have been framed. Within the Student series is Belva Lockwood’s description of her time at the college from 1856 to 1857. Lockwood was the first woman to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court and, in 1884, was a presidential candidate for the Equal Rights Party. The education reformer Horace Mann's account of his visit to Genesee College and the western New York area is also included.

Subject files contain information on the formation of Genesee College as well as arguments about its relocation. A medallion of Susan B. Anthony, the American suffragist, is also included and was donated on behalf of two alumni who were closely associated with her.

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Access Restrictions

Please note that the collection is housed off-site, and advance notice is required to allow time to have the materials brought to the Reading Room on campus.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

Materials of the Missionary Society of Genesee College and Genesee Wesleyan Seminary featuring their constitution, by-laws, treasurer's book and records of their proceedings can be found in the Archives' Genesee Wesleyan Seminary Collection together with catalogs printed jointly for Genesee College and Genesee Wesleyan Seminary.

Letters from John Morrison Reid to Henry O. Sibley, Syracuse University librarian, are held in the Syracuse University Library Office of the Dean records in the Archives.

Belva Lockwood is a notable alumna of the Genesee College, and Syracuse University Archives holds the Belva Ann Lockwood Collection.

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Selected Search Terms


Anthony, Susan B. (Susan Brownell), 1820-1906.
Lockwood, Belva Ann, 1830-1917.
Lord, John. C. (John Chase), 1805-1877.
Mann, Horace, 1796-1859.
Reid, J.M. (John Morrison), 1820-1896.
Steele, Daniel, 1824-1914.
Tefft, B.F. (Benjamin Franklin), 1813-1885.
Genesee College.
Genesee Wesleyan Seminary (Lima, N.Y.).
Methodist Episcopal Church. -- Genesee Conference.
Syracuse University.


College trustees.
Lima (N.Y.).
College teachers.
Higher education.

Types of material

Account books.
Medallions (ornament areas).

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Genesee College Collection,
University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

The majority of the collection was removed from Lima, New York, and deposited with Syracuse University when the Genesee Wesleyan Seminary closed during the 1940s. The medallion was presented to Syracuse University in 1925 by Ellen A. Stevens in memory of her sister, Elizabeth Stevens, and her brother, Othello Hawks Stevens, both of whom attended Genesee College and were friends of Susan B. Anthony. In 1951, Angeline Wood donated several catalogues and programs from the late 1850s and early 1860s as well as Mary Green's expense account. The Class of '67 envelope was a gift from Julius Kahn in 1952, and one of the endowment certificates was donated by Charles H. Coman in 1958. One of the Genesee College Class of 1859 scrapbooks was donated to Syracuse University in 1947 by J.R. Joy and the other was given by J. Seymour Chamberlain in 1940.

Processing Information

Delicate printed materials have been placed in mylar sleeves and the medallion has been placed in its own box. All materials have been placed in acid-free folders and boxes. Bound volumes have been placed in individual custom-made boxes.

Photograph albums, some programs and catalogs have been digitized along with Reid's Reminiscences of My Boyhood. The scanned materials have been selected due to their genealogical research value.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: Erin Lee
Date: 2012
Revision history: 2014 - New accession added and finding aid updated (KS); August 2017 - Stylistic changes (VSOM)

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The items are arranged in alphabetical and chronological order within each series.

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Supplemental Finding Aids

The Archives has produced an index of names of students, faculty, staff and other individuals associated with Genesee College and found within the collection. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list and some names have uncertain connection with the college. The index can be found here.

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Administrative materials
Box 1 College Senate minutes 1855-1858 (bound)
Box 2 Correspondence 1860-1867
Box 2 Endowments of Genesee College 1849-1860
Box 2 Endowments of Genesee College 1866-1867
Box 3 Records of holders of endowment certificates 1849-1858 (bound)
Box 4 Trustees' Book 1849-1875 - with 'An Act to Incorporate Genesee College' (bound)
Box 2 Applications to Syracuse University for degrees: Alabaster - Kreutzer 1872
PDF Sample: John Alabaster Application
Box 2 Applications to Syracuse University for degrees: Latimer - Woods 1872
Box 2 Letter from Rev. Allison 1886
Box 5 Zartman, J.H., Winchester, C.W. & Underwood, Lucien M.(1887). Alumni Record of Syracuse University 1872-1886 including Genesee College 1852-1871 and Geneva Medical College 1836-1872. Syracuse. (bound)
Box 6 Meeting minutes 1850-1873 - with lists of professors and departments (bound)
Financial materials
General account books
Box 7 Disbursements and receipts 1848-1873 (bound)
Box 8 Financial records of D.C. Houghton, E.K. Blythe, B. Shipman (treasurers) and 'Account of Lima Subscription for Genesee College Buildings' 1849-1860 (bound)
Box 9 Dr. Samuel Richardson, treasurer 1850-1871 (bound)
Student account books
Box 10 [General] 1848-1863 (bound)
Box 11 [General] 1849-1852 (bound)
Box 12 [General] 1850-1853, 1862-1864 (bound)
Box 2 Mary Wood's expense account 1853-1856
Box 2 Records 1851-1869 - old, unsettled bills and an 'Account of Treasurer of College Commissioners'
Box 2 Regents Report on endowments 1862-1869
John Morrison Reid papers
MC 8-4 Alumni record 1886
Box 2 Nottingham, Edwin 1890-1896
Box 2 Steele, Daniel to Arnold, Ebenezer 1870
Box 2 'Reminiscences of My Boyhood' undated
PDF Digital version
Box 2 Scrapbook 1842
Box 2 The First Sixty Years of the Missions of the M.E. Church undated
Printed materials
Box 2 Catalogues 1854-1864 (7 folders)
PDF 1854-1855
PDF 1855-1856
PDF 1856-1857
PDF 1857-1858
PDF 1860-1861
PDF 1862-1863
PDF 1863-1864
Box 13 Catalogues 1864-1871 (5 folders)
PDF 1864-1865
PDF 1865-1866
PDF 1866-1867
PDF 1867-1868
PDF 1870-1871
Box 13 Magnificentisima Evacuatio by the Class of '66 1866
Box 13 The Geneseean 1867 (photocopy)
Box 13 Lord, John C. (1851). War of the giants: the earth-born and the heaven-born. Buffalo, N.Y.
Box 13 Agassiz Society 1884-1885
Box 13 Aletheon public exercises 1866
Box 13 Anniversary exercises 1858-1867
Box 13 Commencement 1851-1869 (2 folders)
PDF 1860
PDF 1861-1863
PDF 1865-1866
PDF 1868-1869
Box 13 Concerts 1853, 1867
Box 13 Genesee Lyceum 1867
Box 14 Graduation and related exercises 1852-1871 (bound)
Box 13 Junior exhibitions 1856-1860
Box 13 Presidential inaugural addresses 1851-1854
Box 13 Prize declamations 1856-1871
Box 13 Sophomore exhibitions 1856-1862
Box 13 'Belva Lockwood's College Days' 1856-1857
MC 0-4 Diplomas 1855-1858
Thaddeus Wilson Collins- Bachelor of Science 1855
Thaddeus Wilson Collins- Master of Science 1856
Joel Dorman Steele 1858
Lovinam Abigail Wood 1856
Box 13 Excerpt from Life of Horace Mann 1852
Box 15 Genesee Class of 1859 photograph album (bound)
Box 16 Genesee Class of 1859 photograph album (bound)
PDF Photograph Album
MC 8-4 Genesee Class of 1861 photograph composite
Image L. Aldrich
Image S.A. Bass
Image Charles Z. Case
Image J.A. Clark
Image J.B. Hitchcock
Image J.M. Holland
Image J.H. Hoose
Image R.D. Munger
Image N.M. Osband
Image L.R. Pitts
Image H.R. Sanford
Image W.J. Thirst
Image E.C. Walker
Box 17 Records of student merits 1852-1870 (bound)
Box 18 Senior class lists 1852-1860 (bound)
Box 19 Aletheon Society records 1854-1869 (bound)
Box 20 Atticaeum Society president's book 1854-1873 (bound)
Box 21 Atticaeum Society records 1854-1867 (bound)
Box 13 Withdrawals from Genesee College 1871
PDF Sample: Francis D. Blakeslee
Subject files
Box 13 Class of '67 envelope undated
Box 13 Founding of Genesee College 1856, 1929, undated
Box 13 Letter to Rev. Shipman from H. Button 1864
Box 22 Medallion of Susan B. Anthony 1925
Box 13 Phelps, A.J. (1870, February 22-24). "History of Genesee College removal enterprise." in Methodism in the state of New York. New York: Carlton & Lanahan.
MC 8-4 'Plan and valuation of the pews in the Methodist Episcopal Church, Lima, Livington County, N.Y. with student seating allocation' undated
Box 13 Prof. Harlow's notes from Annual Reports of Board of Regents 1851-1882
Box 13 Relocation of Genesee College 1866-1868
Box 22 Relocation of Genesee College 1869, 1921, undated (2 folders)
Box 22 Supreme Court: Joel Daily & Others against the Genesee College & Albert D. Wilbor 1869
Box 22 'A token of affectionate regard to Rev. R.R. Richards, Stetson, Maine' 1854

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