The Library Cat Saga


In 1935, a  little black cat named Rosita found a home at the original Grosvenor Library, our predecessor and namesake.  We learned of this story while searching through the newspaper scrapbooks that were meticulously compiled by library staff over the years.  The Grosvenor Library was a public reference library that existed from 1871 to 1963, with extensive collections in American history and genealogy.  It was located at 383 Franklin at the corner of Edward, and later annexed the Cyclorama building.

The newspapers at the time regaled readers with witty stories on the “library cat” and even reported on her disappearance, happy return, and birth of kittens aptly named Cataloga, Medicala, Orderina, Perioda, and Referentia!


Margaret Richmond Fess, a Buffalo newspaperwoman, related the cat saga in the context of the Great Depression in her book, The Grosvenor Library and it’s Times:

During these dark and troubled times, the press snatched eagerly at any news which touched the lighter side of life. Rosslyn, alias Rosita, alias Blackie, the Grosvenor Library’s classical cat, received more space in the local papers in 1935 and 1936 than the most valuable gifts to the institution.

Source: Grosvenor Library Scrapbook, Vol. 6, unpaged. Buffalo Collection *Z733.B92 G8

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New Books in the Grosvenor Room

Bockstruck, Lloyd de Witt. Revolutionary War Pensions: Awarded by State Governments 1775-1874, the General and Federal Governments Prior to 1814, and by Private Acts of Congress to 1905.  GRO Ref E255 .B67 2011

Byrd, William L. North Carolina General Assembly Sessions Records: Slaves and Free Persons of Color 1709-1789.  GRO Ref E185.93.N6 B97 2001

Douglas, Althea. Time Traveller’s Handbook: A Guide to the Past. GRO Ref CS9 .D69 2011

Gingerich, Hugh F. and Kreider, Rachel W.  Amish and Amish Mennonite Genealogies.  GRO E184 .M45 G56 2007

Hatcher, Patricia Law. Researching Your Colonial New England Ancestors.  GRO Ref F3 .H28 2006

Jensen, Cecile Wendt.  STO LAT: A Modern Guide to Polish Ancestry.  GRO Ref CS872 .J46 2010

Koons, Bee Bartron. Teaching Genealogy to Young People. GRO Ref CS21 .K66 2004

Koons, Bee Bartron. Young People’s Workbook for Junior Genealogy Classes. GRO Ref CS15.5 .K66 2004

Leclerc, Michael J. Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research 5th Edition.  GRO Ref F3 .N4 2012

Maxwell, Ian. Tracing Your Northern Irish Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians.  GRO Ref CS442 .M39 2011

Merriman, Brenda Dougall.  Genealogical Standards of Evidence: A Guide for Family Historians.  GRO Ref CS83 .M47 2010

Pihach, John D. Ukrainian Genealogy. GRO Ref. CS862 .P54 2007

Riemer, Shirley J. The German Research Companion 3rd Edition, Revised & Updated. GRO Ref CS613 .R56 2010

Rising, Marsha Hoffman. The Family Tree Problem Solver: Tried-and-True Tactics for Tracing Elusive Ancestors. GRO Ref CS14 .R57 2011

Rose, Christine. Military Bounty Land, 1776-1855.  GRO Ref CS49 .R665 2011

Stahley, Susan E.  Cattaraugus County New York Surrogate Court Abstracts: Guardianship Edition.  GRO F127 .C4 S73 2008

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New Grosvenor Room Guide

Calling all genealogists and historians!

Check out our new guide and learn about the resources available in the Grosvenor Room for researching adopted ancestors and orphanages: Adoption & Orphanage Resources for Genealogists and Historians.


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Genealogy Class: Get Ready for the 1940 Census

1940 census is coming

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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

Posted in Databases, Genealogy | Tagged , ,

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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