Saving Genealogy Dollars in the New Year

With the coming of the New Year, many of us are pondering our goals for 2012. [Will it be to achieve career advancement, to kick a habit, or to drop a few pounds…?]  In our current economy, many of us will choose to grow our savings as a resolution.  Here are some ways that the Grosvenor Room can help you save money while supporting your genealogy habit!

Keeping up with genealogy methods and trends – Are you looking to build your genealogical knowledge?  Use the Grosvenor Room Collection instead of buying personal copies and subscriptions.

  • How-to books – The Grosvenor Room Reference Collection includes an extensive list of methodology books on topics such as researching ethnic groups, record types, translation guides, regional research guides, and many other topics.  Grosvenor Room genealogy books, do not check out, but there are many genealogy how-to books that do circulate in other departments and B&ECPL locations.  Search our catalog to see what we own.
  • Genealogy journals and magazines
    • Family Tree Magazine, American Ancestors and Family Chronicle are a few subscriptions that excel in assisting researchers in keeping up with research trends, methods, websites, and technology. 
    • If you are looking for case studies try the American Genealogist and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly
    • Discovering tools for ethnic groups can be difficult, especially when dealing with foreign records.  Avotaynu (Jewish genealogy), Rodziny (Polish genealogy), and The Septs (Irish genealogy) are three culturally specific periodicals that we carry. 
    • The New England Historical and Genealogical Register and The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record provide regional content.  
    • If it is Western New York information that you are looking for, check out the Chautauqua Genealogist and The Western New York Genealogical Society Journal, which are excellent sources of information on local history, research repositories, and transcriptions of local records.

Are you looking for items outside the scope of our collection or that we don’t own?

  • Interlibrary Loan – Did you know that the library can borrow books from other library systems?  This service is called Interlibrary Loan, and if you have a B&ECPL card, you have access to it.  Most of the time, the service is free.  Put in a request through our website or ask a staff member for help.  To see the resources that we may be able to borrow for you, search the WorldCat database.  The National Genealogical Society library is part of this collection.  To read more about the NGS collection and its borrowing procedure, click here.  Many microfilm resources (such as newspapers, land records, and poorhouse records) at the New York State Library and New York State Archives may also be borrowed.
  • Let Us Know – If you come across a resource that you think our patrons may be interested in, email us and we may purchase it.

 Save on genealogy database subscriptions by using B&ECPL online resources.

  • Ancestry Library Edition – This database is almost exactly the same as, and anyone can access it from all B&ECPL locations. Search the entire U.S. Federal Census 1790-1930, passenger lists, military records, and thousands of other databases.  To see if Ancestry has the content you are looking for, search at first from home and then visit your local library to gain access to the records.  [Searching is free, but viewing the records is not.]
  • HeritageQuest Online – Available from in-library and from home with your B&ECPL library card, HeritageQuest offers U.S. Census records, thousands of full-text genealogy books, Revolutionary War documents and more.
  • Buffalo News – Search for obituaries and other articles about your relatives.  This database covers 1989-present.  [Pictures, classified ads, birth/death/marriage announcements, and advertisements are not covered.]  Available in-library and from home with a B&ECPL card.
  • Sanborn Maps of New York - Sanborn fire insurance maps are large-scale detailed property maps including building outlines, property boundaries, street addresses, building use, and other information. This database covers hundreds of New York State cities and towns from 1867-1970, including over 50 Erie County locations. Use Sanborn maps to locate buildings and neighborhoods, see a neighborhood “as it was,” to study the growth of towns and cities, and to identify the impact of new developments.  Available in-library and from home with a B&ECPL card.
  • Reference USA Residential – A great resource for those planning a family or class reunion.  Search residential listings across the United States to find addresses and phone numbers.  Available in-library and from home with a B&ECPL card.
  • African-American History Online – Includes thousands of entries, covering the entire breadth of African-American history, from African beginnings through the slave trade and the civil rights movement to the present. The database is organized into sections: Biographies, Subject Entries, Primary Sources, Timelines, an Image Gallery, and Maps and Charts.  Available in-library and from home with a B&ECPL card.
  • Black Studies Center - Combines three resources for research and teaching in Black Studies:  Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience, International Index to Black Periodicals (IIBP), and The Chicago Defender. This fully cross-searchable gateway to Black Studies includes scholarly essays, recent periodicals, historical newspaper articles, and more.  Available in-library and from home with a B&ECPL card.
  • Biography In Context - Biography in Context is a good resource to search if you are seeking information on influential Buffalonians. It merges authoritative reference content with periodicals and multimedia while also allowing users to search for people based on name, occupation, nationality, ethnicity, birth/death dates and places, or gender as well as keyword and full text.  Available in-library and from home with a B&ECPL card.
  • Select Genealogy Websites – The amount of genealogical content being added to the Internet is growing rapidly. See select lists of useful sites by topic on our websites page and in our subject guides.

Thinking of obtaining copies of vital records from government agencies or other institutions?  Try the Grosvenor Room first.  We have convenient hours, and copies are only 20 cents a page.

  • Lists of vital records and related records owned by the Grosvenor Room are available online.  We have the New York State Vital Records Index, early Buffalo birth records (1881-1913), early Erie County marriage records (1877-1935), and a few other original vital record sources.  Indexes for estate papers (1800-1929) and naturalization records (1906-1966) may be searched in-library also.
  • Many local records owned by the Family History Library are also part of the Grosvenor Room Collection.  This includes select church records and cemetery records, as well as other materials.  Be sure to check our holdings before paying rental fees.

Consult with our librarians before hiring a researcher or paying for a class.

  • We have subject specialists in the Grosvenor Room who can provide guidance with our resources.  Come in for a visit before spending funds on a professional researcher.
  • Are you looking for genealogy classes?  The Library has database and beginning genealogy classes scheduled for 2012.
  • Would your work group or society like a tour of the Grosvenor Room or a guest speaker? Contact us with your request.


Happy New Year and Happy Hunting!

 - Grosvenor Room Staff

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Land and Property Resources for Erie County and New York State


  • Real Property Database, Erie County, New York – Many local governments across the U.S. provide access to property databases and Erie County is one of them.  Search for property by address or property owner name.  The record may list the year the building was built and clicking on the ‘History’ link will provide a list of previous owners, possibly as far back as the 1940s.
  • Erie County Hall, 95 Franklin Street, Buffalo, New York – Deed and Mortgage (by mortgagor only) books are kept in the basement where staff can direct researchers to collections of materials.
  • City of Buffalo Inactive Records Center – Tax and Assessment Roll Books for the City of Buffalo from 1815-1997.  Very early books (early 1800s) are alphabetical by property owner name, but after that time period, you will need to know what ward the address is in.
  • Town Clerk’s Offices – Check with individual town clerk’s offices for holdings of city/town property tax records.
  • City Directories – If you want to see who lived in a certain property (or what business was on a certain property), check city directories.  Most directories by the 1920s or 1930s include an address lookup which will show this detail.  Directories usually show whether or not a person residing at a property owned or rented the property.  The Grosvenor Room carries a complete set of Buffalo city directories, as well as directories for other Erie County cities and towns and even for other New York counties and states.  A listing of our holdings is available by clicking here.  Many online Buffalo and Western New York directories are available on the Buffalo Research website.
  • Atlases – Historic atlases often show property owner names and/or property details.  The Grosvenor Room has many maps for Erie County as well as select atlases for other New York Counties.  For more information, click here to see our Atlas guide.
  • Looking for military bounty lands?  Try this book in the Grosvenor Room:  The Balloting Book and Other Documents Relating to Military Bounty Lands in the State of New YorkGRO Ref. *E263 .N6 B35 1991
  • Early New York State Land Records are abstracted in the following book available in the Grosvenor Room: Calendar of N.Y. colonial manuscripts, indorsed land papers; in the office of the secretary of state of New York. 1643-1803 - GRO CD3406 .S8 1864
  • Did you know that the registering of deeds in New York State was not mandatory until 1840?
  • For more tips on researching land and property please see our How to Research Buffalo Buildings and Miscellaneous Genealogical Records guides.
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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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