Online Collections

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With 25,000 books, 200,000 images, 7,000 postcards, 3,000 manuscript collections, 7,000 microfilms, and 10,000 maps, plans, and drawings in the Research Library collection, "putting everything online" just isn't possible.  Here are our digital collections. 

Featured Project: On This Day Calendar

175 Years: Celebrating the Incorporation of the City of Buffalo, 1832-2007
Selected documents and images from our collections, designed to transport you back to Buffalo in the 1830s
Adventures in Western New York History
Short, readable booklets on 25 frequently-researched topics in Buffalo history, including the Buffalo grain elevators, the Pan-American Exposition, and Erie County in the Civil War.
The Album: Back Issues of Our Newsletter
Browse full-text copies of our colorful member newsletter, which is issued quarterly and features artifacts, events, and photos.  To get free home delivery of The Album, we invite you to join as a member of the Museum.
Ansley Wilcox Scrapbook, 1901
Digitized by the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site as part of an initiative sponsored by the Theodore Roosevelt Center in North Dakota, this is the scrapbook compiled by Ansley Wilcox in 1901. Theodore Roosevelt took the oath of office in Wilcox's mansion after the assassination of President William McKinley. The original scrapbook remains in our collection.
Niagara Square
Listed here are atlases that show individual buildings in Buffalo and Erie County, with links for those which have been digitized.  These atlases are key for house & building research.
WomArch.jpg Bethune's Daughters: Women Architects in Buffalo, NY
This slide show features current women architects in or from Buffalo, NY. We produced it in 2011 as part of an exhibit on Louise Bethune, America's first professional woman architect.
Buffalo Address Books & Family Directories
Published from 1883-1915, these directories list middle & upper income households, with a reverse address section that lists mostly west side houses.  These directories might help you determine when your house was built.
Buffalo Architecture Index
Drawn from primary & secondary sources in our collection, this Google spreadsheet shows the architect and date for 1100 addresses in the Buffalo area.
Inset of church map
Buffalo Churches in 1901: A Google Map
In 1901, the Charity Organization Society of Buffalo published a map showed the location of every church in Buffalo, NY.  Intern Peter Malia replicated that map here. Churches are color-coded by denomination.
Buffalo Drinking Map, 1828 to the present: A Google Map
A thorough map of everyone involved in the production of alcoholic beverages in the greater Buffalo area. We color-coded the locations of 90 breweries, 60 malt houses, 60 distilleries, 7 wineries, and 15 cider houses, some with logos or other visuals.
Buffalo Filmography
A detailed and thorough spreadsheet of feature films, documentaries, and television productions either filmed or set in the Buffalo area. We are still adding to it.
Connecting Elevator
Buffalo Grain Elevators: A Google Map
A thorough map of all known Buffalo grain elevators, past and present, including elevators that were on land that has since been excavated to enlarge the Buffalo River.
Buffalo Historical Society, 1930
An illustrated pamphlet with scenes of museum interiors & exhibits. It was published in 1930 to commemorate the expansion of our original 1901 building. Architect George Cary (1859-1945) designed the building and the additions. Library call number F116 .B83 B84 1930.

Buffalo Historical Society Publications
Well, we didn't digitize them, Google & others did. But we collected the links in chronological order so you can read them online. This series includes the ever popular Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo (1912) and a wealth of scholarship on the Holland Land Company, the War of 1812, Native Americans, Millard Fillmore, and much more.
Buffalo in the War of 1812
Selections from our vast War of 1812 holdings, including original and published letters, journals, artist's conceptions, diaries, scrapbooks, reminiscences, news clippings, and other ephemera
Buffalo Jazz Clubs, 1945-1970: A Google Map
Includes the addresses, years of operation, and some of the owners during the years when these clubs were in business. Researched and developed by Kanisha Greaves, student intern in the Research Library, Fall 2012.
Buffalo Ku Klux Klan Membership List
In 1924, the KKK had a short-lived chapter in Buffalo. Here is a list of members with a short essay on how the Klan managed to get a toehold on the Niagara Frontier.
Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority Maps, 1935
Digitized by Library volunteer Brenda Myc, MLS, these maps were selected from an atlas which documented slum conditions in Buffalo during the Great Depression.  Individual maps show the distribution of ethnic and immigrant groups; the density of population; the incidence of crime, juvenile delinquency, and venereal disease; and other social conditions.  Maps also show Buffalo ward boundaries and councilmanic districts.  Several are hand-colored.
Buffalo Newspaper Search Engine
One search engine drills into these free and fee sites:
  • Buffalo News, 1996-present, via [$]
  • Chronicling America: newspapers digitized by the Library of Congress
  • New York Times, 1851-1980
Buffalo Postcard Collection
From our 7,000 or so postcards, we selected and scanned some rare cards that we haven't already seen online, with historical notes on each one.
Buffalo's Bethune: Americas First Woman Architect
Panel designs from an exhibit held from 2011-2012 on Louise Bethune, the first professional woman architect in America.  Some objects on the panels were not available for online use.  Many thanks to Brian McAlonie and Kelly Hayes McAlonie for co-curating this exhibit.

ErieSt.jpg Burning of Buffalo Map and Casualties
In April 1813, Juba Storrs drew a map of the village of Buffalo as it then existed.  The village was burned by the British in December 1813 during the War of 1812.  Here is Juba's map and lists of civilian and military casualties from that battle.
Cholera Deaths, 1854
Buffalo suffered several outbreaks of cholera. In 1854, Dr. James Newman kept a ledger of the deaths that occurred in Buffalo, which is now in our collection. Here is an index of about 1,000 names in that ledger, generously compiled by Roseanne Higgins, PhD.
Crystal Beach
Selected period photographs from the beloved amusement park in Fort Erie, Ontario
Early Settlers Index
A list of 3,000 names of adults who settled in Buffalo, mostly prior to 1840. Be sure to click on Sources, which shows where we found these names.  We add names from time to time if we find a good list.
Echando Raices: Hispanics Building a Life & Legacy in Western NY
In September 2014, we unveiled our first-ever exhibit on Hispanic history in  Buffalo, The original exhibit panel designs from Echando Raices are shown here.  Many thanks to Mr. Casimiro Rodriguez and the Hispanic Heritage Council for their assistance.
Erie County Prisoner Identification Cards
Names of 1,025 inmates at the Erie County Penitentiary from 1896 to 1914. The majority of the pictures date from 1899-1905. The photographs have warped over the years, are not digitized or online, and may be seen by visiting in person. A Scholar Pass is required to use this collection.
Esenwein & Johnson: An Online Exhibit
Examples of the work of Buffalo's premier Art Nouveau architects, best known for designing the first Statler Hotel (later the Hotel Buffalo) and the Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition
Grover Cleveland Papers: An Index
President Cleveland's papers are in the Library of Congress.  When they microfilmed them, we acquired a set of the films.  Thanks to the Library of Congress, here is a searchable index of his papers, including the names of people with whom he corresponded.
GroverMap.jpg Grover Cleveland Sites in Buffalo: A Google Map
According to his biographers, period newspaper accounts, and Buffalo city directories, here are places where Grover Cleveland worked (blue pins), lived (red pins) or dined, visited, spent leisure time, gave speeches, etc. (yellow pins).  Extant buildings & sites are marked with stars.
Historic Markers in Buffalo & Erie County: A Google Map
This map shows historic markers in Buffalo and Erie County that have been submitted to the Historic Marker Database. They graciously provided a file of the Erie County markers and allowed us to upload it to our own Google map. If you know of one that should be added, please submit it here.
Index to Buffalo Artists' Register
Published in 1926, the 460-page Buffalo Artists' Register is essentially a biographical dictionary of local painters, sculptors, designers, architects, musicians, dancers, singers, actors, playwrights, photographers, poets, and teachers in these fields. What we are able to offer online is just the index, so you can look up specific names.
Index to Men of Medicine in Erie County
When Jane Woodward published her 1971 book, Men of Medicine in Erie County, it lacked an index. In 1982, Sharon Keller produced an index. The book is offline but here is the index. The book covers not only prominent physicians, but the history of hospitals, epidemics, and medical advances in Buffalo and Erie County, NY.
Larkin Filmstrip from ca. 1930: Mrs. James Brown Starts a Larkin Club
This is one of 3 filmstrips produced by the Larkin Company around 1930 to recruit women to join Larkin buying clubs.  Filmstrips were essentially the slide shows of the period, with black & white still images that were narrated by a live speaker. 
Maris B. Pierce Maris B. Pierce Papers
Born on the Allegany Reservation in 1810, Pierce graduated from Dartmouth, making him one of the first Seneca Indians to get a college education. After college, he settled on the Buffalo Creek Reservation and fought against the removal of Seneca from their lands. All 800+ of his letters and papers are now digitized.

Maritime Buffalo: Paintings and Artifacts from the Buffalo History Museum Collections
Some of our finest pieces have to do with commerce and shipping on the Erie Canal and Great Lakes
Pan-American Exposition: List of Prizes
We are often asked to verify if someone won a medal at the Pan-American Exposition. About 4,500 awards, medals, and honors were bestowed at the Pan-Am.  Here is the only list that we know of, originally published in the Buffalo Morning Express, October 10, 1901.  Awards are listed in order by category, not surname. This PDF is the most legible copy we could make.
Pan-American Exposition, Then and Now
This map shows the plan and grounds of the Pan-American Exposition (1901) with today's streets superimposed over them.  We highlighted the Temple of Music, where President McKinley was shot, and the New York State Building, which survives today as the home of this museum.
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Picture Store
Over 800 vintage Buffalo images from our collection available as home or office decor, keepsakes, and high-resolution digital downloads.  All proceeds support the care and housing of Museum collections.
Presidential Visits to Buffalo: A List
Starting with James Monroe in 1818, a lot of U.S. presidents have visited Buffalo as candidates, during their terms, or after they left office. Here is our list.
hospitaltitle.jpg Register of War of 1812 Soldiers in the Williamsville Hospital, 1814-1815
Here are black & white scans of over 300 pages of handwritten notes on the soldiers admitted to the Williamsville Hospital during the War of 1812. The original register is in the collection of the U.S. National Archives. Scans were acquired and shared with us by the Cheektowaga Historical Association.
Revolutionary War Soldier Revolutionary War Veterans in Western NY
A list of about 150 names transcribed from a small, handwritten card file giving places of burial, plus a checkmark indicating if we have a photocopy of the veteran's pension file.
We have several Powerpoint talks online here: Genealogy, House History, Women Architects, Hispanic History, and planning your first visit to our library.
tagpacker-logo.jpg is a social bookmarking tool. We use it to keep track of useful websites for Buffalo history & genealogy. We have over 1200 links sorted into easy-to-understand categories or "tags."  We add links all the time.
Top Five Urban Legends About Grover Cleveland in Buffalo
Lots of claims have been published recently about places were Grover Cleveland lived or liked to hang out. Are they true?
Undertaker Records, 1883-1899
The Buffalo History Museum has ledgers from two Buffalo funeral directors, Henry Farwell and Theophilus Speyser.  This is an A-Z list of everyone they recorded in their ledgers, over 3,100 names from 1883 to 1899. These are our only funeral home records.
Image credit: Nick Youngson
Wheels of Power
Buffalo, the 8th largest city in the United States at the time, was one of the first to benefit from commercial production of hydroelectric power in 1896. This exhibit from 2004 told the story of harnessing Niagara Falls and conserving its natural beauty, as well as the people who changed American life forever.
Worldcat.png Lists
This one is for those who do research in bricks & mortar libraries like ours. Here are lists of undigitized, offline books & manuscripts on various popular Buffalo topics. Did you know that we have 150 items on the Pan-American Exposition? And over 300 having to do with women's history? We maintain 30 bibliographies at WorldCat.