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Newly digitized newspaper index, 1983-1996

WNY Index Blue BooksOne of the in-house (in-library?) newspaper & magazine article indexes created by Buffalo & Erie County Public Librarians is now available online!  Known to some as the “blue book” indexes, the volumes of The Western New York Index are the key to finding articles on Buffalo people, businesses, and events from January 1983 to December 1996.  These book indexes pick up where the bulk of article indexing leaves off in the Grosvenor Room’s Local History Card File (predominately 1925-1982).  Read more about the history of this Index and this digitization project by the Western New York Library Resources Council here.

This unique index includes major articles and obituaries published by these publications:

  • Buffalo Business Journal
  • The Buffalo News
  • Buffalo Spree
  • Business First of Buffalo
  • Business New York
  • WNY Genealogical Society Journal
  • Western New York Magazine

After locating a citation on your topic of interest, stop in to the Grosvenor Room to locate the article in the newspaper (on microfilm) or magazine (in print, usually bound).  Check our online catalog for titles & date ranges.

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Holidays…in the “olden days”

Our scrapbook collection never fails to surprise and delight us!  In a few volumes devoted to holidays, we find that librarians saved newspaper articles that featured the origins and traditions of many celebrated days. Here are a few items on Halloween:

Holidays scrapbook Halloween p. 369

Holiday customs from 1923, Literary Digest. Article from the NY Times, 1929.

Holidays scrapbook Halloween p. 375

“Hallowe’en” traditions and superstitions from Scotland. From the Buffalo Express newspaper, 1899.

While the majority of our scrapbooks have clippings from Buffalo newspapers only, the Holiday Scrapbooks often have articles from other major papers of the time. Librarians sought to preserve civic and religious holiday history in these educational and entertaining volumes.  Take a look at these unique scrapbooks on your next visit to the Grosvenor Room!

holiday scrapbook Books on shelf

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The Erie County Society for the Prevention and Cruelty to Animals

“Life is a thing of common use, by Heaven as well as to insects, as to monarch given.” – Quote found in the Erie County SPCA 1893 annual report, originally by Edmund Waller from the Maid’s Tragedy.

May is National Pet Month. To celebrate, delve into the early history of the Erie County SPCA.  The images below are from the organization’s annual reports 1883-1938.  The reports are available in the Grosvenor Room’s Buffalo Collection at the following call number: Buffalo HV4702 .E6. There are some gaps in the collection.

The Erie County SPCA was incorporated in 1888, though the roots of the society date back to 1867 when a Buffalo chapter of the SPCA was formed.  Work to prevent the cruelty to animals was particularly difficult in its fledgling years, especially for women.   Before the society was incorporated, there was a women’s branch of the ASPCA in Buffalo and in that time, it was seen as inappropriate for women to protest.  It was common belief during the Victorian Era that women belonged in the home, and some who acted on behalf of animal rights were harassed and threatened with violence.  Of course, men too were commonly threatened at this time when many were ignorant to the idea of animal rights.

Unsurprisingly, the first court case brought forth by the society was regarding the mistreatment of canal mules.  Mules were used to pull boats along the Erie Canal and often worked for six-hour shifts.  The mules in question were malnourished and driven while injured.  Happily, the verdict was in favor of the SPCA.  In the late 1800s and early 1900s, SPCA agents were appointed to watch over canal animals as well as those in stockyards.  Buffalo at that time was the second largest railroad center in the country; its livestock trade business was extensive because of the ease of animal transport.  Brave volunteers made arrests, ordered animals to be fed, took off painful collars and restraints, and removed animals from abusive or negligent caretakers.

The organization worked for pro-animal legislation and lobbied against animal dissection.  Volunteers educated local police on new animal laws, on proper animal handling, and police officers were made honorary members of the society.  Members talked to school children about respecting animals, essay contests on animal rights topics were sponsored, junior humane societies were formed, and local schools were given books on “kindness to animals.” Of course, the society had many other achievements, such as installing water fountains to encourage the watering of animals, building an animal shelter, and free veterinary clinics.

To read about the modern day programs and achievements of the Erie County SPCA, see the society’s website:

 Dogs on Roof     Dog Catchers

Auto Fleet       Dog in Car

Clinic Visit      Free Water for Horses

Horse Ambulance

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Major League Lefty in Buffalo Yearbook

Warren Spahn, the left-handed baseball pitcher, didn’t actually graduate from South Park High School when a career in sports intervened. The Cy Young Award winner, who played for 21 years in the National League and has the distinction of having been the left-handed pitcher to win the most games in his career (363), is shown here in the South Park Dial yearbook from 1939, just three years before his debut in the Major League.

Warren Spahn, South Park HS, Dial, 1939

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American Historian in Buffalo Yearbook

Richard Hofstadter was an American intellectual and historian twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his works, The Age of Reform (1956) and Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1964). Born in Buffalo in 1916, he attended the Fosdick-Masten Park High School. He died in 1970 of leukemia.

Hofstadter Graduation Photo, 1933

Hofstadter Graduation Photo, 1933

Fosdick-Masten Park HS Debate Club, 1933

Fosdick-Masten Park HS Debate Club, 1933

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From the Library Archives: Central Library Dedication, October 17, 1964


This week we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the dedication of our Central Library building. On October 17, 1964, the newly built 5-story Library, the anchor of the Buffalo & Erie County System, was formally opened by civic leaders, authors, educators, and a crowd of spectators.  Dedication events included concerts on the Library ramp by the U.B. Band and U.S. Army Band.

Dedication thing

Dedication Program, October 1964

At 375, 000 square feet, it was the largest public library built in the United States since WWII.  Covering two city blocks, the building is longer, at 437 feet, than the height of City Hall, at 378 feet.  Built to house over 2 million volumes, much of the collection is housed in the Closed Stacks, two floors of storage between public floors, known to staff as “the tiers.”  By 1965, there were 50 miles of shelving in the Library.

The original interior design featured royal blue and vermilion (bright orange-red) furniture, and black walnut wood paneling and fixtures.

Library 1964 CE Readers image

“The Reader’s Library,” Courier Express, October 11, 1964.

Central Library Information booklet, 1964.

Central Library Information booklet, 1964.

The construction of the Central Library was one of the many milestones in the merging of the Buffalo Public Library, the Erie County Library  System, and the Grosvenor Reference Library.  Many of the books that were moved into the Central Library from the Grosvenor and Buffalo Public Libraries form the core of our current Local History and Genealogy Collections.

Central Library postcard, 1964

Central Library postcard, 1964

“More important than any building as a material entity is the spirit and philosophy which animates it. And no one can mistake the beliefs and aspirations that underlie our investments in free public libraries. They bespeak our dedication to freedom to read and the pursuit of truth and enlightenment.” “More Than a Building.” Editorial. Buffalo News, October 17, 1964.

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