1940 Census Vintage Newsreel

Interested in learning more about how the U.S. Population Census was taken years ago?  Here’s a vintage film typical of early newsreels that gives insight into the process for the 1940 Census.

 An interesting first-time addition for 1940 — researchers will know which member of the household provided answers for questions posed by the enumerator by a special symbol next to the name.  Also of interest to the Census Bureau at that time are specifics about employment—whether individuals were seeking a job, or in the WPA or Civilian Conservation Corp.

 The 1940 Census will be available to the public on April 2, 2012.

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Social Security Application News

According to a blog post by genealogist Megan Smolenyak, there is a new restriction to parent name information on Social Security Applications.  Previously, a genealogy researcher could order the application of anyone listed in the Social Security Death Index and receive a copy of the complete application for $27-29.  Parents’ names are listed on the applications, and that piece of information is why most researchers obtain them.  Under new policies, parents’ names will be blacked out on request copies unless the deceased applicant would have been at least 100 years old, or if the researcher includes proof that the applicant’s parents are deceased upon requesting a copy of the application.

The Social Security Death Index is available in Ancestry Library Edition, a subscription database available for use in-library at all B&ECPL locations.  It is also available for free on the Internet at RootsWeb.

To read more about the new policy, click here.

To see a blank Social Security Application form, click here.

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Featured Resource

Are you looking for your Polish ancestor’s place of birth?  If you are and haven’t already, check out the following resource.  It is a short work, but if you are lucky enough to have your ancestor listed, you might make a break through!

Reference Material for Research on WNY Polonia – compiled by Michael Drabik.  Buffalo E184 .P7 R44 1989

This resource indexes Buffalo Polish resources including:

  • Przewodnik Handlowy (Polish Business Directory for Buffalo and Surrounding Area), pulished 1908 – includes photos and biographical sketches
  • 50th Anniversary of the Polish Settlement in Buffalo, N.Y. and the Parish of St. Stanislaus B.M., published 1923 – includes name lists and some photos
  • 50th Anniversary Albums for the Parishes of  St. Adalbert, B.M. 1936 Transfiguration 1943, Buffalo, NY – includes name lists and some photos
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1930 Mexico National Census

Just in time for National Hispanic Heritage Month, Ancestry Library Edition has added the 1930 Mexico National Census to the database.  Data which you will find about those listed is:

  • name
  • age (in years, months, and days)
  • gender
  • head of household
  • birthplace
  • marital status
  • whether marriage was civil or church
  • nationality
  • religion
  • occupation
  • unemployment
  • native language
  • address
  • physical or mental defects
  • real estate holdings
  • literacy

Ancestry Library Edition  is available for research at all B&ECPL locations.

To see more Grosvenor Room resources for Latin American genealogy research click here.


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Beyond Vital Events Announcements: Newspapers in Genealogy Research

Many family historians think of newspaper research in narrow terms: birth, marriage, and death announcements.  Newspapers can provide so much more.  Here are some examples:

  • Advertisements: for family businesses, an ancestor’s property for sale, a business move, going out of business sales.
  • Church functions and committee members.
  • Civil and Criminal trials.
  • Clubs and Community organization members and award winners.
  • Crimes committed.
  • Death information: burial permits (larger cities), military casualty lists, disaster victims, articles about homicides and accidental deaths, notes of thanks from families after funerals, social columns may mention a visit due to a death.
  • Family reunions.
  • Feature articles on ancestors.
  • Genealogy columns (See: Newspaper genealogical column directory by Anita Cheek Milner at call number GRO CS44 .M49 1992, for a list of columns.)
  • Hospital news – admittance and release names.
  • Legal notices: debtors, bankruptcy, missing persons, probate and estate settlement, divorce, delinquent tax lists, juror lists.
  • Local government: bills paid to individuals and businesses for services, voter lists, tax rolls.
  • Local columns may contain a plethora of information including: visits which prove relationships, health information, family trips, successful endeavors, social events, retirement, gossip.
  • Marriage information: engagements, anniversaries, list of marriage licenses.
  • Military service news.
  • Political appointees and candidates.
  • School awards, graduations, and special training.
  • Slave data: advertisements for runaway slaves, slaves for sale or hire.
  • Unclaimed mail lists could help narrow down when your ancestor moved from an area.

Below is a list of New York State Digital Newspaper Archives to help you get started.  Keep in mind that the condition of the newspaper scanned can result in poor indexing. 

When you search for an ancestor, try searching in many different ways such as:

  • Different name combinations: maiden and married names, middle names with last names, last names only if it is not a common name, first name only if it is an unusual name.
  • Other relatives’ names.
  • Your ancestor’s address.
  • Include a town with your ancestor’s name.
  • Family business names. 
  • Browse newspapers by date, if you know the dates of important events. 
  • If you find that your ancestor’s family is often listed in local columns, you may wish to browse these columns issue by issue.

Bard College Student Newspaper Archive – Search or browse the newspapers which span the 1895-1991 time period.  Bard College is located in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY.

Barnard Bulletin Newspaper Archives – This is the student newspaper of Barnard College which is in New York City.  Coverage is from 1901-2002.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1841-1902

Catskill Mountain News, 1902-1949 – A searchable database of the Catskill Mountain News, which was published in Margaretville, NY.

Chronicling America – An ongoing project that includes select historic newspapers across the country from1836-1922.  New York newspapers included so far are: The Evening World (NYC), The Sun (NYC), The New York Tribune, and The New York Daily Tribune.

The Cornell Daily Sun – A project by Cornell University which covers many issues from 1880-1981.  This is the Cornell University student newspaper.

Freedom’s Journal – A New York City African American newspaper.  Coverage: March 1827-March 1829.

The Friend of Man – Covers social movements in Central New York, Western New York, and the New York City area.  Scattered issues: 1836-1842.

Fulton History – A large collection of historic New York State newspapers, including many from Western and Central New YorkClick here to see a list of some of the newspapers included on the site.

The Griffin Collection – A Canisius College student newspaper. Coverage: 1929-1957.

Historical Newspapers of the Rochester, New York Regions – Includes Fairport, NY and Geneva, NY area newspapers.

Hudson River Valley Historical Newspapers – Search and browse Hudson River Valley area newspapers.  Date Range: 1831-2000.

The Ithacan – The Ithaca College student newspaper.  Coverage: 1926-2002.

Long Island Memories – Historical Nassau County, NY newspapers. Select coverage: late 1800s-2000s.

Onondaga County Local History Indexes – Unique genealogy and local history indexes, some of which index newspapers.

New York Times Archives – Includes an index from 1851-present.  Articles from 1851-1922 are free.

Northern New York Historical Newspapers – Historical newspapers for the following New York counties: Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis, Oswego, and St. Lawrence.

Putnam Courier – Published in Putnam County, NY. Coverage: 1849-1930.

Rochester Area Newspapers – Select browse able newspapers spanning 1828-1918.

Suffolk County Historical Newspapers – Select coverage from 1869-2007. 

University at Buffalo Campus Newspapers and Magazines – Lists select UB publications, their publication date range, and what is available on line.

Western New York Legacy – Includes the Buffalo Criterion, University at Buffalo Student Newspapers, a small number of Buffalo Express papers, and the Griffin.

New York Newspaper Databases Available Through BECPL

Buffalo News - Buffalo News offers an index and the full-text of articles from this newspaper, 1989 – present. For use at any library or from home with a valid Buffalo & Erie County Public Library card number.

New York State Newspapers – New York State Newspapers offers the full text of seven newspapers including the Buffalo News, Post Standard (Syracuse, NY), New York Post and the New York Times. For use at any library or from home with a valid Buffalo & Erie County Public Library card number. This database is made available through NOVEL: New York Online Virtual Electronic Library. NOVEL Databases is an electronic database access project provided by the New York State Library that enables libraries across New York State to give their communities online access to the full text of hundreds of journals, newspapers and other references.

New York Times  – Complete New York Times coverage from 1851 to the present. For use at any library or from home with a valid Buffalo & Erie County Public Library card number.

General Digital Newspaper Directories

Chronicling America – A project by the Library of Congress.

Cyndi’s List – Includes links to genealogy columns, and newspapers by title, some of which are historic digital projects.

Google News Archives – An alphabetical list of newspapers by title.

Internet Public Library – A directory of current newspaper websites by state.

NewspaperCat – This is a project by the University of Florida. It is an index of online historical digital newspapers for the United States and the Caribbean.  You can browse by city, county, and state.

United States Online Historical Newspapers Directory – A digital newspaper directory by state.

A New York State Newspaper Directory

New York State Newspaper Project – Find out what libraries own the microfilm or print versions of newspapers.  You can browse by title or location.

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New Guides and Publications on Our Website!

Check out the following new guides and publications, which are available on the Grosvenor Room Genealogy Web Page!

Census – Buffalo Wards by Street 1915 1920 1925

Church Records –  

  • Buffalo Churches 1832-1860
  • Buffalo Churches in 1931

Family History – Genealogy Pamphlets on Microfilm in the Grosvenor Room

Maps and Atlases – Buffalo Street Name Changes

Military – Erie County Civil War Regiments

Vital and Related Records

  •   A Select Index to the Bellringer 1940-1945
  •   A Select Index to the CurtissWrightER 1943-1944
  •   Births, Deaths, and Marriages Found in Local Publications
  •   Death Notices and Obituaries in the Buffalo News 4/22/2009-2010 by Name
  •   Marriages and Deaths in the Pierce Arrow Newsletter 1918 to 1922
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Finding Local Histories

Local history books often contain a wealth of biographical information on pioneer families, professionals, business owners, and prominent citizens.  Find out what local histories exist for the areas where your ancestors lived by using the following resources.

  • Books

Gro CS47 .Y3 1996. Hoffman, Marian.  Genealogical & Local History Books in Print.   Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1996.  Includes U.S. and world sources. 

Gro Ref CS47 .N39 1998. New England Historic Genealogical Society. Circulating Library Catalog, Volume II, Research Aids.  Boston, MA: NEHGS, 1998.  

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

GRO Ref F119.N4 1990. Harold Nestler.  A Bibliography of New York State Communities.  Bowie, Md. : Heritage Books, 1990.  

Buffalo Collection – The Buffalo Collection in the Grosvenor Room, includes thousands of books related to Buffalo and Erie County. 

Grosvenor Genealogy Collection – Our Grosvenor Genealogy Collection includes local history books for areas outside Erie County, NY.  They are arranged by state, and by county and city within the state’s section. 

  • Databases 

HeritageQuest Online – HQ includes over 28,000 full-text books which mainly consist of family and local histories.  PERSI is a genealogy and local history periodicals index.  It will help you find local history articles. 

The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library’s online catalog – Search our collection online by using the following subject heading search method: 

Nameoftownorcity StateAbbreviationwithspaces History


Nameof County  StateAbbreviationwithspaces History


Buffalo N Y History

Dunkirk N Y History

Providence R I History 

Erie County N Y History

Cattaraugus County N Y History

  • Specialty Files 

Grosvenor Genealogy File – This is the card catalog of the old Grosvenor Library.  It includes listings of local history books.  Search alphabetically by town, county, or state.

  • Websites

http://lib.byu.edu/fhc/index.php – This is the Brigham Young University Family History Archive site, which includes thousands of full-text books.

http://www.archive.org/ – The Internet Archive provides access to almost three million full-text books including local histories.

www.worldcat.org – WorldCat is a union library catalog which contains library holdings information for all over the United States and some foreign holdings as well.  You can find out what local histories are available and at what libraries they are available.

Read more about local histories and how they can help your research here.

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