Local Histories in Genealogy Research

Sources that often get overlooked in genealogy research are local histories.  County and town histories can provide important information about our ancestors, lead us to records, and help us get a better picture of our ancestors’ lives.  Here are some examples of the types of information that may be found in local history books and useful to genealogy research:

  • Biographies of influential citizens, pioneers,  general family histories
  • Vital and related record lists – births, deaths, marriages, taxpayers, property owners, registered voters
  • Lists of individuals – government officials, club and society members, church members, professionals, business owners
  • Portraits of prominent individuals or families; pictures of homes, buildings, and businesses
  • Military rosters
  • General name indexes
  • Details about what life was like during specific time periods
  • Details of what life was like for specific population groups such as ethnic, socio-economic , or for those in certain professions
  • Physical description of towns/locations

Local histories are kept in two of our major book collections in the Grosvenor Room.  Our Buffalo Collection houses materials related to Buffalo and Erie County.  The Grosvenor Genealogy Collection includes local histories for areas outside of Erie County.  It includes a significant collection of New York State county and town materials as well as out-of-state sources.

HeritageQuest Online also includes local histories.  HeritageQuest Online is a subscription database available through the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library.  The following link gives details about the database, tells how you can access it, and includes user guides: http://www.buffalolib.org/content/grosvenor/genealogy/genealogy-databases#HeritageQuest.

Local histories can be found in the book section of the database, and the collection includes materials from all across the United States.

Here are some examples of Buffalo and Erie County histories with significant biographical detail:

  • Hill, Henry Wayland, ed.  – Municipality of Buffalo: A History. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1923. – Buffalo F129.B8 H54, HeritageQuest Online
  •  A History of the City of Buffalo: Its Men and Institutions. Buffalo, NY: Buffalo Evening News, 1908. – Buffalo F129.B8 B75
  •  History of the City of Buffalo and Erie County.  Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., 1884. – Buffalo F127.E6 S6, HeritageQuest Online 
  • Jackman, Warren. History of the Town of Elma: Erie County, N.Y., 1620-1901. Buffalo, NY: 1902 – Buffalo F129.E85 J2, HeritageQuest Online 
  • Fiddler-Woite, Julianna.  Snyder, New York: A Brief History . Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2009. – Buffalo F129.S6935 F53 2009
  • Baker, Oneta M. History of the Town of Clarence.  Clarence Center, NY: Diane C. Baker, 1983. – Buffalo F 129.C55 B3
  • Briggs, Erasmus. History of the Original Town of Concord, Being the Present Towns of Concord, Collins, N. Collins and Sardinia, Erie County, New York.  Camden, ME: Picton Press, 1992. – Buffalo F 129.C72 B8 1992, HeritageQuest Online (1883 edition)
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