University Special Collections

Special Collections

B. Thomas Golisano Collection

Card with the Electronic Accounting Systems InformationB. Thomas "Tom" Golisano is founder of the Rochester, New York payroll processing company, Paychex and a well-known upstate New York philanthropist. He has funded many medical and educational institutions in both upstate New York and Florida, including the Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong Memorial Hospital, and the Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences and the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at Rochester Institute of Technology.  His start in business, his extensive involvement with the upstate community and his philanthropic endeavors are chronicled in the collection.  The records consist of business and personal correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, publications, clippings, ephemera and awards and span his entire career.  His accomplishments at Paychex are well documented, as well as his community and philanthropic activities, including ownership of the Buffalo Sabres, his two campaigns for New York State governor and his founding of the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation. 


Frederick Wiedman Jr. Presidential Signature Collection

Frederick Widman SignatureThese papers, from a discharge paper signed by George Washington to a letter to a school girl from Nixon, all feature autographs by every president  through George W. Bush. The collection was donated to RIT by former trustee Frederick Wiedman, Jr. in 1999 and RIT is committed to obtaining the signatures of new presidents. A set of facsimiles is currently on display at the Greater Rochester International Airport.


Editorial Cartoons

RIT Archive Collections houses several noted editorial cartoon collections, including the Elmer Messner Collection and the John Scott Club Collection.

Elmer Messner

Political Comic of a hand holding a torch of "truth"The Elmer Messner collection contains over 1500 original drawings dating from 1926-1992.  Born in Rochester in 1901, Messner graduated from RIT (at the time called Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute) in 1918  with an art degree.  While at RIT he studied illustration and contributed his talents as art director of the yearbook, The Ramikin. After graduating, he continued his studies at the Art Students League of New York, eventually returning to Rochester to join the staff of the Rochester Times-Union.Starting in 1925 Messner taught drawing at RIT, and remained on the faculty for 20 years. His cartoons were reproduced in newspapers and magazines across the country and around the world. He left to work at the Democrat and Chronicle for a few years, but returned to the Times-Union where he continued as editorial cartoonist until his retirement  in 1964. He died in 1979, at 78 years old. 

Messner was active in a number local and national organizations. He served as president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists and vice-president of the National Cartoonist Society. Well known in the local art community, he was vice-president of Rochester Art Club from 1944-1949, and continued as president of the organization for four more years. He was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award from RIT in 1963. Frank Gannett, founder of the Gannett newspaper group, described Messner's talent as "the rare ability to reduce to a simple line, or a combination of lines, the story or an event and the feeling of the people."

The collection was donated in 1981 by Messner's wife Grace Messner.

John Scott Club

Joe Boggs Comic about TaxesJohn Scott Clubb began his career in 1900 at the Rochester Herald, later the Times-Union, where his daily cartoons appeared on the editorial pages for 34 years. His readership extended beyond the local area and his cartoons were reproduced in magazines and newspapers nationwide. He was widely recognized by both casual readers and colleagues for his ability to combine astute social and political commentary with a talent for communicating ideas succinctly through his highly skilled drawings. Local, national  and international politics were the mainstay of his output, but he was also known for his portrayal of “cracker barrel” characters discussing world affairs while sitting around a country store stove. A recent addition to the collection, a gift from a family member, brings to RIT a series of Scott’s “Joel Baggs, He Sez, Sez He” cartoons. The Joel  Baggs character, much beloved by local readers, was a mythical farmer from Gates and a rural philosopher known for his homespun observations of the local scene.

Born in 1875 in Halls Corners, N.Y. Clubb showed a talent for caricature early in his childhood. He eventually attended art school, first at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and then the Art Students League in New York before returning to Rochester. He died suddenly in 1934.

The collection of 3,500 original drawings was donated by his daughter Elizabeth Reed. 

Editorial Cartoons by various Artists, 1885-1973

Two Businessmen on a boat avoid rocks that have various names on them (ex corrupt partisan, spoils system)Elmer Messner amassed this collection of original cartoons by over fifty different national and local artists. Included are works by Pulitzer Prize winning Nelson Harding (1927 and 1928), Vaughn Shoemaker (1938), James T. Berryman (1950), and Herbert Lawrence Block, known as Herblock (1954). They offer a view of a wide range of individual drawing styles, along with a the ability to observe first-hand the historical changes in both style and substance.