A Soldier’s Scrapbook

A Soldier's Scrapbook

Selections from a scrapbook compiled in Buffalo by Thelma Hildebrand for her husband, Private Nelson Fischer, 1941-1942. The book documents Nelson’s travels as a soldier, and includes napkins, matchbooks, telegrams, greeting cards, and even bars of soap.

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Donate your old yearbooks to the Library!

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Looking for a home for your unwanted yearbooks?  Consider donating them to the Library!  Once beloved mementos for young students, old high school and college yearbooks are now treasured by genealogists, local historians, and even school reunion planners.

The Grosvenor Room has a large collection of Buffalo area yearbooks, but it does not include all schools or years.  Due to cost, we rely on kind donations to add to this collection.

We would love to add yearbooks that are…

  • From a high school or college in Erie County, from any year.
  • In good condition; no mold or water damage, please.
  • From schools we do not have, namely private and parochial, and more recent schools such as City Honors and Performing Arts.

Donated yearbooks can be dropped off in the Grosvenor Room at the Central Library. 

To learn which yearbooks we currently have, check this guide.

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Fun find in a D.A.R. Scrapbook

Here’s a unique item from one of our scrapbooks: a beautiful table place card from a dinner held in 1931 at the Town Club on Delaware Ave.  This scrapbook was compiled from 1926 to 1931 by Mrs. Belle Morgan, who was a member of the Abigail Fillmore Chapter, a local DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) organization.

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[Daughters of the American Revolution, Abigail Fillmore Chapter Scrapbooks]. [Buffalo, N.Y.: Abigail Fillmore Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution], 1926. Vol.1. Grosvenor Room E202.5.N53 B825

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Women of Library History: Grosvenor Room Leading Ladies of Yesterday

The original Grosvenor Library (1871-1974, Franklin and Edward Streets)  established a magnificent reference collection that remains the core of our current genealogy, local history, music, and rare book collections.  For Women’s History Month, we honor and remember two librarians who began their careers at the “Old Grosvenor.”  We owe much to their dedication and hard work in creating these collections.

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Jane Van Arsdale, librarian 1940-1972

Jane Van Arsdale was the first Curator of Rare Books for the Grosvenor Library, and later for the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.  Prior to 1940, few books were protected as treasures, but after a thief made off with over 200 valuable books, Miss Van Arsdale began to identify items for a growing rare book collection.  For the next 30 years, she combed through the stacks and selected titles for purchase, building the foundations of rich collection. The Grosvenor Rare Book Room was one of the first rare book collections in a public library in the country and remains one of about 20 such public library collections today.

Margaret Mott

Margaret Mott, librarian 1923-
1963

Formerly a professional singer, Margaret Mott began her librarian career in the Music Department at the Grosvenor Library, which she headed from 1923 to 1954.  During her time at the Grosvenor, she oversaw the acquisition of an impressive collection of sheet music, historical manuscripts, and recordings, and organized a successful musical concert series.  In 1957, Mrs. Mott was named “Woman of the Year” by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Society, just one of her many honors and awards.  Her 40 year career took her briefly to Paris, France to head the Reference Department of the American Library, and ultimately to the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library as deputy library director.

Posted in Genealogy

Clipping the History of Buffalo

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Buffalo & Erie County Public Library Clippings, 1966-67. Buffalo Evening News, March 11, 1967.

“Serious students researching a local subject may find that the library is way ahead of them” touted a Buffalo Evening News article from 1967.

Indeed, the  Scrapbook Collection in the Grosvenor Room has helped many by providing a significant slice of history ready for researching or browsing.

One of the most frequently used, and unique resources, the scrapbooks began at the former Buffalo Public Library around 1900.  According to library legend, they were meant to showcase Buffalo’s finer qualities for the upcoming Pan American Exposition.

Librarians selected newspaper articles, sorted by subject matter, and pasted them on leaves (pages), later bound and numbered.  The resulting volumes were then indexed in the Local History File.  In 1932, when the early scrapbooks were deteriorating due to low quality paper, WPA workers helped salvage the collection by removing and re-pasting articles.

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Welfare work…projects in the Buffalo area, p. 109. Buffalo Times, Jan 30, 1939.

More than 600 volumes covering over 200 subjects comprise the collection, including art, architecture, streets, charities, industries, presidents, and even trees!  Many scrapbooks contain articles published before 1900; most were published between 1910 and the early 1970s.

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Trees in and around Buffalo Scrapbook, p.51. Courier Express, July 30, 1939.

While the bulk of the material is newspaper articles and illustrations from the Courier Express and Buffalo Times, there are also a small number of programs from lectures and dinners, photographs, commercial engravings, and other ephemera.

The most frequently used are the Local Biographies series, which constitute about 100 of the volumes shelved in the Grosvenor Room.  Genealogists and local historians can search thousands of articles and obituaries, thanks to the librarians who had the foresight to collect and preserve these and other clippings.

George-Adell

Local Biographies, Scrapbook, v.1 , p. 76.

Scrapbooks of two of the most popular Buffalo history topics are now available online through New York Heritage: Pan American Exposition and New York Central Terminal.

You don’t have to be a “serious student” to enjoy browsing these and other captivating scrapbooks!  A new scrapbook guide by topic is now available on the Grosvenor Room publications web page.

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The “Best Atlas in the World”

Now on display in the Grosvenor Room:

NewCase_Close1Earth. Sydney : Millennium House, 2008.

1 atlas (576 p.) : col. ill. (8 folded), col. maps ; 61 cm. Foreword by David Bellamy ; chief consultant, Charles F. Gritzner .  No. 338/2000.  RBR G1021 .E2 2008

This limited edition hand-sewn atlas by Millennium House of Australia was 20 years in the planning stages and 2 years in production.  Named “Best Atlas in the World” at the International Cartographic Conference held in Santiago, Chile in 2008, it beat out over 500 entries from around the globe.

Earth (Blue Edition) contains more than 355 maps covering 194 countries, and includes more than 750 photographs and illustrations representing the work of over 100 international cartographers, oceanographers and geographers.  The leather cover is bound by hand and each copy is individually numbered and is accompanied by a signed Certificate of Authenticity.

This atlas complements the Rare Book Room’s collection of geography texts in the Milestones of Science Collection, notably the Blaeu atlas and the works of Ptolemy, as well as adds to the Grosvenor Room’s superior map collection.

NewCase_farIt is currently on display in the new wooden case just inside the Grosvenor Room entrance, which will house future genealogy, local history, and Rare book displays.  Be sure to stop in to see this and other ongoing exhibits!

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Where can I find…?

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Family researchers often find themselves seeking a specific piece of information about an ancestor, such as birth date.  We might think that the only place to find this is the actual birth record of that person.  However, these alternate sources usually include birth information as well:

  • death record
  • marriage record
  • church baptismal, marriage records
  • naturalization papers

Other records may provide the important clue of birth year,  including Census, military records, and passenger lists.

Keeping track of where to look for particular information can be tricky, so we’ve created a handy “Record Selection Table” to guide you to key sources.  If you don’t have luck with the sources in the first column, be sure to try the alternate records listed in the second.

Those alternate sources just might help you break through your genealogy “brick wall!”

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