Layoff of full-time local historian in Rochester, NY called "incomprehensible"

Historians in the News

Local historians use words like "incomprehensible" to describe a proposal to eliminate the full-time city historian in favor of a part-time position subcontracted through the Rochester Historical Society.

Mayor Robert Duffy has proposed such a move in his 2007-08 budget released Friday.

The administration argues that working through a private nonprofit agency is more cost-effective. Preparations will continue for an international Underground Railroad conference, and for the city's 175th birthday in 2009.

But others worry that public access to the city's historical records may suffer and that some research will be halted. Other concerns are that historical writings, photographs and publications could be disbursed, and the record of a city steeped in history could become fragmented.

"It's the worst kind of thing that could happen," said David Anderson, chairman of the Freedom Trail Commission.

Duffy said "there is pain in this budget." The city historian post — held for the past two decades by Ruth Rosenberg-Naparsteck of Rochester — is one of 20 layoffs proposed.

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