St. Leo’s Benevolent Society at St. Michael’s Church, c.1911

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Rochester has a long tradition of charitable organizations, many of them being benevolent societies.  Before the Civil War there were twelve in Rochester.  By 1870 there were 20, and that number doubled by 1880.  These societies, often based in religious and ethnic affiliations, were established in part to help ease the financial burdens of other charities.  Much of their work dealt with integrating the numerous immigrants coming into the city through sponsorship and social welfare.  In 1846 more than half of head of households were foreign born.  By 1890 over two-thirds of Rochester’s population was either foreign born or born to immigrant parents.  St. Michael’s was established c.1873 and the church at 869 North Clinton Avenue was dedicated in 1890.  This photograph was taken on the north side of Parish Hall located behind the church.  Reproduced from 8½” x 27” photograph.