Mark Twain Comes to Rochester



(From the collection of the Rochester Public Library Local History & Genealogy Division.)

Many famous people have passed through Rochester at one time or another. Among them was Mark Twain, who was one of the featured speakers at the Rochester Chamber of Commerce’s 15th Annual Dinner at Colonial Hall in 1902. Twain gave a speech entitled “The Why and Wherefore” to an illustrious audience that included George W. Rafter, Henry Lomb, and Rush Rhees.

Seating chart for the Rochester Chamber of Commerce's Fifteenth Annual Dinner. December 18, 1902.

Seating chart for the Rochester Chamber of Commerce’s Fifteenth Annual Dinner. December 18, 1902.

Published in: on September 12, 2013 at 3:20 pm  Comments (6)  
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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. How can we read the speech? I guess one would have to contact the Twain archives for that. Do you have a list of the people who attended the event? I like that handsome program cover. Too early or late for Claude Bragdon to have designed that?

    • Hi Barbara,
      Unfortunately, we don’t have a copy of the speech Twain gave, but we do have a seating chart from the event that tells who sat where. While it’s possible that Bragdon designed the program, the design seems to lack Bragdon’s distinctive geometric style.

  2. Seating chart?! Any chance that it’s scannable? How many atteneded?

    • Barbara,
      See updated post for the seating chart. You can click on the image to enlarge it.

  3. CORRECTION (1/4/19): According to the December 19, 1902 issue of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Mark Twain had to cancel his appearance at this event due to his wife’s illness.

  4. According to Wikipedia, Olivia Clemens died June 1904, but had poor health several years before that. Twain was a devoted husband, so it is not surprising that he canceled his trip on account of his wife’s illness. Thanks for completing our story of Mark Twain and his Rochester appearance (or absence).

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