Maps Maps Maps!

The Grosvenor Room houses maps and atlases that are used by local history researchers and genealogists, but these are just a small portion of the Central Library’s incredible collection of over 70,000  local, regional, state, national, and international maps.  For more information on the collection, see our new map web page.

Now on display: Civil War maps from the collection can be viewed in a case outside of the Grosvenor Room.

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Finding Family Histories

Have you wondered if a history of your family has already been written?  If you have, the following resources may lead you in the right direction.  Keep in mind that family histories are only as good as the researcher and the information which was available at the time they published their work.  Use other genealogists’ research as clues, but be sure to find the evidence yourself to prove or disprove the information they provide.

If you find a resource of interest, you can check our online catalog to see if B&ECPL owns the title.  If we do not carry the title you are interested in, we may be able to borrow the item for you through Interlibrary Loan.

  • Books

Gro Ref CS47 .D38 1982 - Shelby, Mrs. Richard Denny.  DAR Library Catalog, Volume I, Family Histories and Genealogies.  Washington, D.C.: National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, 1982.

Gro CS47 .I64 1979 – Index to American Genealogies; and to Genealogical Material Contained in all Works such as Town Histories, County Histories, Local Histories, Historical Society Publications, Biographies, Historical Periodicals, and Kindred Works….  Baltimore, MD:  Genealogical Publishing Co., 1979.  [Companion Volume: Z5313 .U5 W61 - The American Genealogist being a Catalogue of Family Histories.   Albany, NY: Joel Munsell’s Sons, 1897].

Gro CS69 .K3 – Kaminkow, Marion J.  A Complement to Genealogies in the Library of Congress.  Baltimore, MD: Magna Carta Book Co., 1981. 

Gro Ref CS47 .N39 1998 – New England Historic Genealogical Society.  Circulating Library Catalog, Volume I, Genealogies.  Boston, MA: NEHGS, 1998.

Gro Ref CS47 .U56 1990, 3 volumes - UMI Guide to Family and Local Histories.  Ann Arbor, Michigan:  UMI, 1990. 

Gro CS47 .U6, 2 vols, 1 sup.  – Kaminkow, Marion J., ed.  Genealogies in the Library of Congress: A Bibliography.  Baltimore, MD: Magna Carta Book Company, 1972. 

Gro CS47 .Y3 1996 – Hoffman, Marian.  Genealogical & Local History Books in Print: Family History Volume.  Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1996.

  •  Databases

HeritageQuest OnlineHeritageQuest includes a collection of over 28,000 full-text family and local history books.  The date range covered is 1583-2000s.  It also includes PERSI, a selective index to genealogy and local history articles.  To learn more about HeritageQuest, see our tutorials.

Ancestry Library Edition – There are thousands of databases available in Ancestry, some of which are family histories.  Narrow your search to the Stories, Memories, and Histories Collection in order to find these materials more quickly. 

  • Miscellaneous Resources 

Grosvenor File – The Grosvenor File is a card index which will help you find family history books and articles.  To find listings for your family, look alphabetically by last name.  

Grosvenor Genealogy Collection – Published family histories are available in the Grosvenor Collection.  They are arranged roughly in alphabetical order by surname, and are recorded in our online catalog. Many of these books are also indexed in the Grosvenor File.  To browse, start at call number CS 71. 

Family History Pamphlets – The Grosvenor Room owns a collection of almost 700 family history pamphlets.  Most were published in the 19th and early 20th century. When using the pamphlet collection guide, refer to the call number section for an alphabetical list by surname.  The guide is available at the Reference Desk.  Many of these resources are indexed in the Grosvenor File. 

Family History Files – The family history vertical files contain a variety of information sources, and are available by request at the Reference Desk.  A guide to these materials is available at the Reference Desk. 

Genealogy Manuscript Collection – This is a collection of unpublished manuscripts donated to the former Grosvenor Library, by the Buffalo Genealogical Society (1899-1931) and the Niagara Frontier Genealogy Society (1941-48).  A guide to the collection is available at the Reference Desk.  See also the WNYGS microfilm ML152 for the Philbrick Family Book which covers the 1631-1925 timeframe and the following surnames: Butterfield, Wilson, Manley, Philbrick, Boyce, Holmes, and French.  An index is included.

  • Library Catalogs

WEB2: The Online Catalog of the BECPL – WEB2 is a database showing the books, magazines, CDs, videos, maps, and manuscripts owned by the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.  It includes the Grosvenor Room, all departments in the Central Library, and every town and branch library.  To find sources in our collection beyond those listed in this guide, try these Subject searches:



WorldCat – This is a union library catalog which lists the holdings of thousands of libraries across the U.S. and some foreign libraries as well.  You will find resource titles and the libraries that own them.  Perform an advanced search and search the subject field as follows:



FamilySearch Library Catalog – This is the online catalog of the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints.  It is the largest genealogy library in the world. Perform a surname search, by inputting a single last name in the search field.  To search for resources that cover multiple surnames, use the keyword search. 

  • Websites 

Brigham Young University Family History ArchivesFull-text family and local histories, genealogy periodicals, and gazetteers.

Haithi TrustA full-text digital library including history and genealogy books.

Internet ArchiveFull-text books including a large collection of biographical, genealogical, and local history materials.

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Now on display – “The Blue and the Gray: Songs of the Civil War”

Come view the display of historic music commemorating the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War, (April 12, 1861). Included are sheet music, broadsides, songsters, and other materials from Central Library’s Grosvenor Room music collection.

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 Broadsides were text-only song sheets equivalent to singles on a record. Songsters were usually twenty-four to forty pages and considered the albums of their day (i.e.  Beadle’s Dime Song Book, the Pocket Songster). Broadsides were sold on street corners, while sheet music, song sheets, and booklet-sized songsters, were sold in stores or distributed through mail order businesses

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A Quick Start to Researching Your Revolutionary War Ancestors

  • Search the following databases in Ancestry Library Edition:
    • U.S. Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783—will give rank and state fought with.
    • Revolutionary War Pension Index—will give rank and state fought with.
  • Search HeritageQuest Online’s Revolutionary War Documents:
  • Browse Daughters of the American Revolution publication indexes:
    • Index of the Rolls of Honor (Ancestor’s Index) in the Lineage Books of the N.S.D.A.R—Gro E202.5 .A15
    • DAR Patriot Index Centennial Edition—Gro E255 .D33
    • These publications may give data such as birth, marriage and death dates; place of birth and death; wife’s name; military rank; state fought for; and other details.
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A Quick Start to Researching Your New York State Civil War Ancestors

  • Search  New York Soldiers in the Civil War—*E523.3 .W55 1999 to find your ancestor’s regiment.
  • Find the volume of the following set which corresponds to your ancestor’s: regiment:
    • Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New York 1894—E523.2 N6 no.2— Will give basic details of your ancestor’s service such as date and place enlisted and discharged, promotions, injuries, death.
  • Search the following record sets in Ancestry Library Edition:
    • Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934—Will provide the application number, which will help if you would like to order a copy of your ancestor’s pension file from the National Archives.
    • New York, Town Clerks’ Registers of Men Who Served in the Civil War, ca. 1861-1865—May provide residence, date and place of birth, parents’ names, rank, regiment, place of enlistment, discharge date, occupation, cause of death, place of burial.
    • U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865—May list town of residence, occupation, age, former military service.
  • Search New York in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865  – *F118.P4 v.1; to find the history of your ancestor’s regiment.
  • Check the Grosvenor Room’s Civil War subject guides to see if we carry a history of your ancestor’s regiment.  These are available at the Reference Desk or online at:
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New Exhibit! “Lafayette Square: Then & Now”

Come view the Central Library Rare Book Room’s latest exhibit, an exploration of the architectural history of Lafayette Square!  Featuring photographs, postcards, maps, & ephemera of the Square itself and the grand buildings that have come and gone, this exhibit is a fascinating glimpse of Buffalo’s amazing architectural heritage.  On display now through January 2012.

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A Quick Start to Researching Your World War I Ancestors

  • Search the following in Ancestry Library Edition:
    • World War I Draft Registration Cards—May provide birth date and place, nearest relative, dependents, father’s place of birth, physical description, marital status, occupation and employer.
      • The Grosvenor Room also carries draft records for Buffalo and Erie County on microfilm.
    • U.S. World War I Mothers’ Pilgrimage, 1930— This is a list of mothers and widows of soldiers killed in World War I who were eligible to travel to their loved one’s final resting place in Europe; a trip which was paid for by the U.S. government.  It gives the name of the widow or mother, city and state of residence, and relationship to the deceased;  soldier’s name, rank, unit, and cemetery.


  • Search in History of Buffalo and Erie County 1914-1919—Buffalo *F129 .B8 S97
    • Includes Buffalo and Erie County rosters of soldiers killed in the war, volunteer chaplains, soldier rosters, Buffalolnians in the Polish Army, Red Cross leaders and nurses, Buffalo military doctors, Volunteer Medical Service Corps members (women), as well as other local citizens involved with WWI.  Soldier data may include rank and regiment.

 For more resources, click here to see our military research guides. 

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