“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.
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.
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.