Adopt an Artifact

Here at The Buffalo History Museum, our collections include more than 100,000 artifacts, 200,000 photographs, and 20,000 books. With new developments spanning the city’s core and grassroots initiatives revitalizing neighborhoods, our duty to actively collect remains as critical as ever. It is with this expansion in mind that we are so excited about our newly donated collection of Buffalo Bills artifacts, a collections containing over 50,000 artifacts! Unfortunately only around 10% of our collection can be displayed at any given time. While we are constantly rotating artifacts and preparing for the next exhibit, artifacts that are not on current display still need proper housing and care. 

You can help The Buffalo History Museum to properly care for all the artifacts in its collections by ‘adopting’ one of our newest acquisitions. All funds raised from adoptions will support the preservation, storage and management of our artifacts. 

$25-$249 Adoption Certificate
Acknowledgement on Adoption webpage

$250+ Adoption Certificate Acknowledgement on Adoption webpage
Admission (you and 4 guests) to Adopt an Artifact Behind the Scenes Tour with Director of Collections will discuss and display your artifact and give a tour of The Buffalo History Museum’s collections facility. 

Contact:  Alexis Greinert,  Donor Relations and Membership Coordinator (716) 873-9644 ext.318, Alexis will help you set up the "adoption papers." (Scroll down for all "editions" of artifact themes.) 


Explore the darker side of Western New York's history... adopt an artifact from our selection of Crime & Punishment collection! These artifacts tell the stories of Buffalo's early police department, the city's first and only public hanging, and the assassination of President McKinley. 

 EXCLUSIVE ADOPTION OPPORTUNITY: Adopt the Buffalo Police Department

Restraining Chair.JPGRestraining Chair and have your name prominently displayed at the Crime & Punishment pop-up exhibit on May 15.

A restraining chair used by early Buffalo police in the late 1800s to subdue disorderly persons until s/he became quiet. The chair has leather restraints for chest, waist and wrists; stocks with a lock on them for the feet. A false seat reveals a compartment for a chamber pot.

Adoption fee: $1,000   

When not on display, the restraining chair lives in the collections care center at The Buffalo History Museum's Resource Center. 


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Thayer Brothers Dying Address

The three Thayer brothers, Nelson, Israel and Isaac were hanged in Buffalo on June 17, 1825 for the murder of John Love. This was Buffalo's first and only public hanging. The execution took place in Niagara Square with an audience of 20,000- a time when Buffalo's population was merely 2,000 residents. The address is safe kept in The Buffalo History Museum's Research & Archival Library. 

Adoption fee: $60 members / $70 general

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Instruments played during the Thayer Brother Hanging

The flute and clarinet, made of boxwood, were plated at the execution of Nelson, Israel and Issac. A parade preceded the hanging, starting with the Buffalo Village band, followed by troopers, military regiment and the artillery company. Speeches were given, one minister said one prayer, delivered a sermon, presented a paper, and read the last confessions of the three brothers. The execution instruments are stored in The Buffalo History Museum's Resource Center in our collections care. 

Adoption fee: $100 members / $120 general

McKinley assassination revolver and restraining handcuffs  

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Leon Czolgosz changed the course of history on Sept. 6, 1901 when he fired two shots into the abdomen of President William McKinley at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, NY. Czlogosz used an Iver-Johnson 21 caliber revolver, and after a brief scuffle, he was placed in handcuffs and under arrest. The revolver, handcuffs and handkerchief are exhibited in "Spirit of the City: Imagining the 1901 Pan American Exposition" at The Buffalo History Museum's Resource Center. 

Adoption fee: $150 members / $175 general

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Police booking photograph of Leon Czolgosz. While in custody, Czolgosz was tried and convicted on Sept. 24, 1901; on Sept. 26, he was sentenced to the death penalty, which was carried out on Oct. 29, only 45 days after McKinley had succumbed to his wounds. The mugshot is safe kept in The Buffalo History Museum's Research & Archival Library. 

Adoption fee: $50 members / $60 general 

Commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the conclusion of the American Civil War. Surprise the military enthusiast in your life with a gift of a Civil War artifact adoption. 

Field Surgeon’s Kit

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William H. Gail M.D. was an Assistant Surgeon in the 18th New York Cavalry. His field kit contains forty four pieces, including an amputation saw, bullet extractor and a tourniquet.

Adoption fee: $100 members / $125 general 

Union Officer’s Hat
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Hat belonging to Colonel James M. Brown of the 100th New York State Infantry Regiment. The embroidered bugle horn represents infantry officers. 

Adoption fee: $50 members / $65 general
Union Colonel Uniform Coat

Frock coat belonging to Colonel James M. Brown of the 100th New York State Infantry Regiment. Coat made of wool, featuring two rows of seven gilt buttons down the front as well as Colonel straps at each shoulder.

Adoption fee: $125 members / $140 general

Union Continental Rifle

The percussion-type rifle was made by Pat Smith of Buffalo for Millard Fillmore’s Union Continentals.  The Union Continentals were a group of former military men that were too old for service who would encourage enlistment in the Union Army.

Adoption fee: $50 members / $65 general

Captain’s Saber

Presentation Saber given to Captain Rodney M. Taylor of the 3rd Regiment of Harris New York Cavalry. It has a steel blade with etched decoration and a gilt brass hilt that features a floral motif and wrapped silver grip.   

Adoption fee: $75 members / $90 general

President Lincoln’s Life Mask and Hands

Plaster life mask and hands of 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. President Lincoln led the Union throughout the Civil War with unwavering ideals of a united nation. 

Adoption fee: $200 members / $225 general


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Love poem written by Sidney A. Lake in 1855 after his time serving in the Civil War. 

Some marry for riches, some marry for gain:

Some marry a proud and haughty young dame.

But when I marry it will be for love alone;

And I think it high time Love, that I make you my own.

Value: $25

griffith pg 27 sz.jpgCollection of letters from Frank Griffith from the 116th NY Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. Frank is a faithful writer to his ‘dearest wife’. The collection spans two years to the end of the Civil War.

Value: $75

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Valentine card – Choose a single Valentine Card for your special Valentine

Value: $25

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Letters from Bill to Mable during WWI. Collection concludes sadly by Bill breaking things off with Mable after receiving a letter that Mable had been seen walking out with a different boy.

Value: $50

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Collection of letters from John Larkin to Hannah Frances (Frank) Hubbard Larkin. Letters begin in 1873 and continue throughout their courtship and marriage. Frank showed hesitancy in accepting Mr. Larkin but in late 1873 agrees and couple married in June 1874.

Value: $200

Valentine I Open JPEG.jpgValentine Card Collection – Over 100 valentines ranging from the Victorian period to early 20th century.

Value: $150

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Funny Valentine – For the unenthusiastic Valentine

Value: $25

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"Let Me Walk Through Life With You"
Sweet sentiment for the vintage lover  

Value: $25 

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Fred Jackson 2011 season worn helmet. This was the first year the Bills wore the streaking white buffalo helmet since the 1983 season. Jackson is the third leading all-time rusher in Bills history.
Joe DeLamielleure autographed game worn Pro Bowl jersey. The White jersey was worn in the 1978 Pro Bowl at the  Kingdome in Seattle. 
Buffalo Bills charcoal grill with the grill top shaped like a Buffalo Bills helmet. It is the perfect tailgate grill to show your team spirit.  The grill is circa 1996.  

Jim Kelly game worn 1994 jersey.  Kelly is the greatest QB in Bills History and is a Hall of Famer. The white jersey includes the NFL 75th year anniversary patch and the Bills 35th anniversary patch.  
Flutie brought Flutiemania to Buffalo in 1998 and helped ensure the franchise stayed in Buffalo.  He led the team to two consecutive playoff appearances in 1998 and 1999. This lithograph autographed in black by Doug Flutie.

Andre Reed game worn 1992 jersey.  Reed is the greatest wide receiver in Bills History and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014.  He was a 7 time Pro Bowler and played with the Bills from 1985 to 1999.

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Buffalo Bills red, white and blue snow blower with Bills logos on each side.  The snow blower was manufactured by Simplicity. Circa 1997.  
Marv Levy game worn jacket. Levy is the Bills Hall of Fame coach.  He has the most victories in Bills history, led the team to six Division Titles, four time AFC Champions and four Super Bowl Appearances.
The Buffalo Bills 1964 Team Picture Pennant features the team picture of their 1964 squad.  This pennant commemorates the Buffalo Bills first American Football League Championship in 1964.  
Poster featuring Buffalo Bills nose tackle Fred Smerlas, and linebackers Jim Haslett and Shane Nelson. The Bills had the number #1 rated defense in the NFL in 1980. The trio quickly became known as the “Bermuda Triangle” because runners could enter their territory but never made it out!