How to connect with Buffalo history from the comfort of your home

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When you can’t use our books in person, you can sometimes connect online.  Every Buffalo researcher should get to know these online book sites. 

Google Books: https://books.google.com
We LIVE at Google Books. For historical researchers, Google Books is the most important part of the Google empire. For several years, Google has partnered with several major libraries, including Harvard, Cornell, and the New York Public Library, to digitize millions of books and periodicals.  The results are full-text searchable for names of individuals, places, specific phrases, businesses, organizations, events, anything you’d look for the regular Google home page.  Fortunately for us, many of the participating libraries happened to collect books on Buffalo. 

Your search results will have 4 levels of access:
1. Full text: the entire book is online
2. Preview: you can read multi-page excerpts but not the entire book
3. Snippet: you see only the paragraph or sentence containing your search term(s)
4. No preview: the book is not online, usually because the sole surviving copies are owned by one of the many libraries (like us) who are not part of the Google Books project.

Other useful features: you can bookmark your finds in a feature called My Library and share your lists.  You can download entire free books in PDF and read them offline.  Because Google is a business, you can also purchase newly released e-books for your e-reader.

Archive.org: https://archive.org/details/texts
Archive.org is the not-for-profit alternative to Google Books.  It presently has 8.8 million volumes online and all are free and full text.  Their library partners include the Library of Congress, the University of Toronto, and Columbia University.

To search it, click on the magnifying glass icon in the black navigation band across the top of your screen. Archive.org lags behind Google Books in its full text searchability for a specific name, phrase, or term.  However, anyone can upload a text to Archive.org.  Download options include formats designed for screen-readers used by people with vision loss.

HathiTrust: https://www.hathitrust.org
HathiTrust is a consortium of a hundred academic and research libraries around the world who are digitizing books.  It presently has 13.8 million volumes online. About 40% are available for free in full text.  To download a book that is still protected by copyright, you have to be affiliated with a member institution.  At present, the closest participating institution is the University of Rochester.

Like Google Books, HathiTtrust offers you the option of searching the full-text of everything for a name or phrase.  You can create collections (bookmark your finds) and share them.  You can also limit your search to books that are online in full text.

Project Gutenberg: https://www.gutenberg.org
The Gutenberg Project is the grand-daddy of all online book sites, founded in 1971 before any of us had ever heard the words Internet, Browser, or Digitize.  It presently offers over 50,000 books, all of which are online for free in full text with several downloading options.  Gutenberg is full-text searchable, as well as browsable by author, title, and subject.  Unfortunately, the Buffalo content here is minimal.

FRANK, our online catalog: http://tinyurl.com/frank-catalog
Naturally, we cannot omit our largest in-house digital project, our online catalog.  It lists over 27,000 distinct books, manuscripts  & microfilms in the Research Library collection.  We are continually cataloging new and old stuff.  When we learn about free online versions of works that we own in hard copy, we build links into the bibliographic record.  Try searching for a person, place, thing, business, church, organization, event, and maybe one of your results will lead you to a full-text, online version.

Cynthia Van Ness, MLS
Director of Library & Archives

*This article was featured in the Spring 2016 issue of “The Album”

Participate In Our Next Exhibit

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Would you like to participate in an upcoming Buffalo sports exhibit? Here’s how: The Buffalo History Museum is planning a feature exhibit, Icons: The Makers and Moments of Buffalo Sports. Opening in 2017, the exhibit will explore Western New York’s rich sports history and investigate the unique connection between fans and our beloved local teams.

We’re collecting memories from the community to help shape our story. The survey will take 15-20 minutes of your time, and asks you to recall who you remember to be the top ten moments, figures and teams. Your submissions will help shape the exhibit by determining the stories we highlight.

Follow the link for the survey: Icons: The Makers and Moments of Buffalo Sports Survey

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The Greg D. Tranter Collection Manager, the Buffalo Bills Collection and what to expect in the Future

BRC at desk. JUNE blog
Here I am surrounded by my current project – working my way through the collection of die-cast model cars, busses, trucks and airplanes.

A little more than a month ago, I accepted my current role as the Greg D. Tranter Collection Manager at The Buffalo History Museum.  You may say that I am in training to become the ‘resident Buffalo Bills expert.’  I am responsible for the cataloguing – what we call ‘accessioning’ – of the Buffalo Bills collection donated by Greg D. Tranter that was announced to the public at the end of April 2016.

 

GDT at desk. JUNE Blog

Greg is pictured at the desk where he does most of his preliminary work before sending the objects to us at the museum.

It isn’t just any “Buffalo Bills collection” though – in its entirety, it includes 100,000 artifacts and archival objects and it has been reported on heavily here in Buffalo and even as far as Boston.  The Sports Collectors Daily described the collection as “jaw-dropping” – I would agree, wholeheartedly.  For a Bills fan, it is jaw-dropping for the singular reason that it is an enormous collection celebrating our football team.  It celebrates the good, the bad and the ugly, depending on how you wish to interpret certain events: wide-right, anyone?  For me, it is jaw-dropping because of the complete and exhaustive collecting undertaken by Greg: for example, the collection includes every single program ever produced since the very first game in 1960; he isn’t missing a single one!  If a series of Christmas Ornaments was produced, Greg collected every one of them so that there would be a complete grouping.


Subj Card. JUNE blogSo, what’s happening with it?
The accessioning process for the tens of thousands of artifacts is going to take years and the steps we take to register an object can be time consuming, especially if it a multi-piece object (like a Tailgating themed pick-up truck with tailgating accessories – a grill, a couple of coolers, etc).  Every single object goes through our cataloguing process which includes a number of steps.  Once the white cotton gloves have been put on, an object is carefully handled and described: we take note of any labeling on the object or packaging, the condition it is in (we look for any scratches but also remark if it’s in excellent condition), and then we measure (for storage and display) and take photographs.  Every object is assigned a unique identifying number, what we call an Object ID; once the number has been assigned, we input all of the data into our cataloguing system, Past Perfect.  The end result is a Subject Card that gets added to our vertical files that are housed in filing cabinets (like the one in the photo to the right).  This allows us to have two points of reference; the new system of Past Perfect and the old catalogue-card system.

The final step in the process is to find a “home” for the object in our storage. We store everything in acid free boxes that are organized by classification.  This is done for the long-term preservation of an object but also to ensure easier discovery for future Collections staff.

Stein. JUNE blogOkay, so there is still a lot of work to be done. Can we still see the Collection even though it isn’t on display?
Absolutely!  We have lots of projects on the go to ensure that we are sharing the collection with you.  Over the next year, we’ll be putting together a virtual exhibit that will be accessible on our website (www.buffalohistory.org); it will include a variety of objects and related information, in addition to some oral histories shared by the donor, Greg.  Like the accessioning process, that will take time.  In the meantime, I plan to do a few more blog posts since I could talk forever about the parts of the collection that fascinate me (like the Art Baker jersey or the O.J. Simpson “See-Action” football board game and the “Bermuda Triangle” poster with Fred Smerlas, Jim Haslett and Shane Nelson)!  More immediate though, is our sharing on social media; if you don’t follow us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook and you would like to see more of the Greg D. Tranter Buffalo Bills Collection, you should! We would love to hear your thoughts, memories and stories about an object we share – maybe you even have the same thing at home.

So, to end, I offer three things about myself:

  • I was convinced that the entire collection could fill the field at Ralph Wilson Stadium… but I have been assured that it probably can’t
  • The red standing buffalo logo is my favorite of all of the logos (it’s also Greg Tranter’s favorite logo!)
  • Of the few hundred objects I have accessioned thus far, this stein is my favorite object. It has a raised scene of a football game, complete with a quarterback and referees and an oversized logo at the front.

Go Bills!

Britt Call,
The Greg D. Tranter Collection Manager

Related Links:

Sports Collectors Daily – https://www.sportscollectorsdaily.com/jaw-dropping-buffalo-bills-collection-donated-museum/

Link to: My Collecting Passion: https://buffalohistorymuseum.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/my-collecting-passion/

Greetings from the Program & Engagement Coordinator

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Megan MacNeill, Program & Engagement Coordinator with actor Josh Gad, who came to visit the museum while in Buffalo filming.

Hello! My name is Megan, you may have seen me here at The Buffalo History Museum, running programs, crafts, and activities! As Program and Engagement Coordinator, I am tasked with creating and running lectures, our ever-popular Train Day, and many other events throughout the year. While I am not a native Buffalonian, I have come to love my new city, and all the history and experiences that it has offered me.

I have been in my position here for a year and a half, and it has flown by! Previously, I lived, studied, and worked in Philadelphia, PA. I went to graduate school and received my MFA in Museum Exhibition Planning and Design. Before I came to Buffalo, I had worked in nine different museums and many different disciplines; from horse racing and dance, to outsider art and the history of chemistry. Regardless of the museum, the amazing stories are what keeps me passionate about my work (and an ever-hopeful Jeopardy! candidate). For instance, the first synthetic dye was developed on accident by a man named William Henry Perkin. When he created that bright mauve color, he was hoping for a synthetic quinine to help treat malaria. My favorite stories here are the not-so-apparent ones. The hidden fossils in the floor of the State Court, the tiny “make-due” piece of a blue star in a quilt, and the symbolism in our WWI propaganda posters.

My love for museums, like many of my peers and colleagues, came from an early age. When I was little my family would take yearly trips to Washington, D.C. My sister and I would drag my parents to the same exhibit, the gemstone room at the National Museum of Natural History. We were fascinated by the colors and sizes, and of course, the Hope Diamond.hopediamond(courtesy of SI) I am incredibly fortunate; every vacation we took as a family featured at least one day-trip to a museum or historic site. Though my parent’s ploy to make us learn may have worked too well, my dad almost kicked my sister and I out of the van on a trip home from Cape Cod because we so desperately and relentlessly were asking to visit the Sandwich Glass Museum again. Luckily we stopped for a visit. What sticks with me just as much as the stories and facts that I’ve learned, is the time spent with loved ones. I feel that museums have a dynamic way of opening us up to learning and also to being in the moment and connecting with each other. This is why I love what I do. Providing our guests with the opportunity to engage not only with our objects and exhibits, but with each other.
So please come viCyanotypeinProgresssit us! Every Third Friday I run hands-on activities in our State Court. They are free and accessible to all ages. In June, we made solar prints. Harkening back to my days as a photography major, we placed found objects on light-sensitive paper, and created our own cyanotypes.

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This summer I will be representing the museum down at Canalside as well! Come see some great old views of the historic canal district (sourced from our library of course) and learn about the history of the Erie Canal! Mondays 12-4, Wednesdays 11-3.

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The Tides of Change

AG_BabyShowerIt is amazing the difference only a year can make. The summer of 2015 was carefree, full of late nights with friends and packed with preparation for all the events held at The Buffalo History Museum. It was one of my favorite summers to date; I tried to soak it all in and garner as many memories as possible. IMG_0039I knew – I just knew that no other summer would be the same, you see I was pregnant with my first daughter. Darcy Rose entered the world after a smooth pregnancy in late November of 2015. And I was right, this summer is not the same, she has been life changing – in the best way possible.

POTPWhile last summer was fun; having that pregnancy glow, everyone congratulating you, even receiving all that advice, all while working as hard as possible to present The Museum in the best way – this summer is better. I may have been the one pregnant but when Darcy was born she entered more than just her small family of myself and her father, the whole Museum adopted her. She will grow up here at the Museum, at our Food Truck Rodeos and Toddler Story Time. I am excited to introduce Darcy to all the people and things I love about The Buffalo History Museum.

Darcy SunglassesBeing a working mom is hard and not only for the mom. Schedules can change suddenly, what worked before may not work now. Through all the trials and tribulations my fellow staff members have been amazing. As a new mother The Buffalo History Museum has come to mean more than a place to enjoy and work. It has become a legacy of fun and education for my friends and family.

Alexis Greinert
Membership & Events Manager

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Letter from the Executive Director

Melissa2traditions, family, friends, warmth, summer. . . celebrations!

Greetings!

Newsletter15_CoverThe costumed people on the cover and the theme of this edition of “The Album,” prompts me to share a favorite summer memory and a sentiment about the Museum’s celebrations…

On the third Sunday of July, the Ganshaw and Koeppen families, my maternal ancestors, convene. The reunion dates back to just before I was born and has always been a steadfast summer tradition.

At one o’clock the folding chairs emerge under the old tree canopy. Requisite sacred beer steins, a choice dish-to-pass, family dessert specialties, and fun door prizes are the order of the day. Adding to the processional-like set up, my grandmother and her eleven siblings would gather costumes to don before dinner. The Aunts and Uncles slipped on and into oversized old hats and miss-matched garments, patriotic sashes, loud ties, and character costumes of the day (yep, a Big Bird get-up and the like did not push boundaries of flamboyancy). Grilled marinade chicken cooked over old half-barrel charcoal pits made our mouths water as this colorful feast of family fun – all made sacred-in-tradition by the clipped cadence of Great-Uncle Bill’s German blessing – wafts in warm summer memories of my youth.

POTP16
Now in its 11th year, Party on the Portico has come to brand the same delightful recall of tradition and idyllic summer gatherings on the steps and grounds of the Museum’s portico (minus the zany costumes).  Or, as we like to say, our sensational porch party!  Each summer, at each of the three portico parties, we greet a reunion of our history Museum “family” members, friends and new faces (soon to be familiar) to celebrate al fresco the people, their stories, the gorgeous views, the music, and, of course, the glorious Museum. 

FoodTruckRodeo_AllDates_SqWith the Food Truck Rodeo in its 4th season, the first Wednesday in June, July, August, and September, we’ve enjoyed regular visits from families who claim their own special tree to spread a blanket and sup outdoors on the Museum grounds while taking in the nature, music and sunshine. Friends and families also take advantage of free admission and kid-friendly activities offered.

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The Antique and Classic Car show offers the same convivial annual summertime treat for all who love gleaming motorized works of art on display the first Sunday in August. 

With all the wonderful gatherings happening not only at the Museum, but everywhere in town, I hope you choose to embrace our family and share in some of the tradition…the history…the celebration! 

We’d love to see you. 

Melissa

POPT PR SHOT

Porch Party!

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The Buffalo History Museum grooves into its 11th Annual Party on the Portico summer happy hour series on M&T Third Fridays – June, July, and August. The popular outdoor summer soiree features historic delights and great live music – all happening the most magnificent back porch steps and surrounding grounds in town. This year’s line-up brings to stage a mix of young talent swinging the local scene and the finest venerated musicians around. First up (June 17) is Fredtown Stompers (Sean Ebert, trumpet/cornet/vocals; Mike “Magoo” McGough- piano/vocals; Melissa Sauers, clarinet /vocals; Ralph DeMarco, tenor sax; Brian DeJesus, bass; Brian McKenna, drums) a fun six-piece band who bring Dixieland tunes into full swing. Nothing says summer like some good Naw ‘leans jazz in Western New York. Next (July 15) features the sultrier side of summer with The Shadows featuring DeeAnn DiMeo. All with a pulse will groove and dance to the smokin’ hot soul and R&B music by venerated musicians: Bob Falk (guitar, vocals); Ron Davis (keyboards vocals); Reggie Evans (drums, vocals); and, Chris Haug (bass). Finally (Aug 19), and so worth the wait, The Willies take the stage with Buffalo’s revered players: Willie Schoellkopf (guitar, vocals); Bob Falk (guitar, vocals); Jim Ehinger (keyboards, vocals); Steve Sadoff (Fender bass); and, Mike Phelps (drums). Clapton, The Band, and Steely Dan lovers become joyful when this band cuts loose.

2015-08-21 16.47.23Party on the Portico, guests meet up with friends and enjoy live music, party snacks, cash bar, free 15-minute mini tours of the Museum, and spectacular views of Delaware Park. Always a great time…Come hang on our porch with us!

Time: 5:30 – 8:30 pm
Tix: $5 member/$10 general (Tickets go on sale May 15)
Additional parking in McKinley High School lot
The general public may contact 716-873-9644 / info@buffalohistory.org  or visit www.buffalohistory.org.
The series runs rain or shine and is exclusively for guests ages 21 and over.
Party on the Portico – August is sponsored by Medaille College
M&T THIRD FRIDAYS is sponsored by M&T Bank.
Media Sponsor: WBBZ-TV

Constance Caldwell
Director of Communications and Community Engagement

 

Catalogue boxes and file folders filled with images from TBHM collection.

A Day in the Life…

Spring 2016 Newsletter Cover

Spring 2016 Newsletter Cover

Part of my job as the Graphic Designer here at The Buffalo History Museum is to layout our quarterly newsletter, The Album. Each newsletter has a different theme that then translates down to the content and cover image, for example last month’s theme was “Connections.” Our summer theme is “Celebrations,” where we will be featuring upcoming museum events, exhibits, and artifacts fit for a celebration!

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Catalogue boxes and file folders filled with images from TBHM collection.

I went right to our Research Library in search of the perfect cover image, which was harder than one would think. Celebrations should be easy to find, right? People having fun at a party, smiling candidly, clinking champagne flutes…or not. With the help of our Librarian, Cynthia Van Ness we had to think of some “outside the box” categories to broaden our image search.

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Canisius High School Father-Son Football banquet, 1936

First up were program books from local parties of the past, while there were some interesting finds, like this adorable football invite for a Canisius high school banquet from 1936, most did not have much imagery to them. Next we tried to focus in on celebrations that happened at The Buffalo History Museum, past exhibit openings, Annual Meetings, milestone anniversaries etc., but sadly cover worthy images still eluded us.

StoryBookParade

Storybook Land parade, 11.14.1959

Then, jackpot! After changing our party-centric mindset we moved toward parades and picnics and there came the celebratory moments we’ve been searching for! Let me tell you there were a wide variety of parades held in Buffalo; Loyalty day, Ringling Brothers and Barnum Baily Circus Parade, Allentown Village Society Parade, and even a Storybook Land Parade.  The picnic photos were eye-catching as well as capturing summer holidays grilling with family or laughing in the park.

Now for which image won the cover you will have to wait in see. The summer issue of The Album will be out by the end of May, stop in the museum for a copy or grab a membership and have the issue delivered right to your door!

Jennifer Nichols
Graphic Designer/Marketing Associate

142 years old and still in service: Buffalo’s oldest bridge

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International Railroad Bridge, opened in 1873.

Thousands of Thruway drivers pass it around the clock with a quick glance at best. It has been in service for over 51,000 days, built before the invention of the automobile, airplane, and Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone.  It shares a birth year with the first typewriter to have a QWERTY keyboard. It opened for business in 1873 during Ulysses Grant’s administration as the International Railroad Bridge.

The need for a rail crossing between Buffalo and Fort Erie became evident after the Suspension Bridge opened in Niagara Falls (1854) and the area was soon overwhelmed by rail traffic. Negotiations between the State of New York and the Dominion Parliament began in 1857 but were interrupted by the Civil War. Finally, in 1870, Congress and Parliament agreed on terms and budgeted $1,500,000 for the project. The International Bridge Company, formed by the Grand Trunk Railroad, was awarded a charter to design and construct the bridge. The Gzowski-MacPherson Company won the contract and began work, supervised by Polish-Canadian engineer Sir Casimir Gzowski (1813-1898).

Gzowski must have been a gifted child, because he entered the Military Engineering College at Kremnitz at age 9. As a young man, he took part in Polish uprisings against the Russian forces. Exiled to New York after the defeat of these efforts, Gzowski learned English, studied law, and eventually settled in Toronto, where he supervised public works on roads and harbors in Ontario and Montreal and developed an interest in rail engineering.

When Gzowski began work on the International Bridge, a crossing at this point was considered impossible. The currents of the Niagara River were too swift and treacherous, the water levels too unpredictable, the ice build-up too heavy, and the storms too intense. Gzowski was almost 60 when he took on the challenge.

In spite of construction challenges and setbacks, the 1.11 mile bridge opened on November 3, 1873 without the loss of any lives. It quickly became one of the busiest international crossing points in North America. In 1890, Gzowski was knighted by Queen Victoria.

While the bridge mostly carried freight trains, until 1934 it also carried one daily passenger car. It had wooden plank sidewalks until 1900, when the trusses were fully redesigned and replaced. Its busiest day was July 10, 1916, when 264 trains crossed. Today it serves 15 trains per day and is a handsome, sturdy reminder of 19th century engineering prowess.

Read more about it:
https://archive.org/details/cihm_05136
Gzowski, Casimir Stanislaus
Description of the International Bridge: Constructed over the Niagara River, near Fort Erie, Canada, and Buffalo, U.S. of America
Toronto: Copp, Clark & Co., 1873

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The international railroad bridge, Fort Erie to Buffalo, 1873-1973 and Colonel Casimir S. Gzowski
Buffalo, NY : Published by Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario, Engineering Institute of Canada, N.Y. State Society of Professional Engineers, Erie-Niagara Section, American Society of Civil Engineers, Buffalo Section, ©1973


Cynthia Van Ness, MLS
Director of Library & Archives

*This article was featured in The Buffalo History Museum‘s Fall 2015 issue of The Album.

Letter from the Executive Director

Spring 2016 Newsletter CoverGreetings!

This spring we explore “connections” of all sorts, starting with our three buildings. Each building has fascinating history; sharing those stories remains a focus. However, with the buildings’ unique character so goes the upkeep. Last March, a thaw of snow and ice caused 500 gallons of water to pour into The Buffalo History Museum’s Reinstein Center. The water intrusion wreaked havoc on our daily operations forcing Buffalo State’s Museum Studies program to halt their work cataloguing the Howard Beach Collection and 7 of our full-time staff members set up make-shift offices in public areas of the Pan-Am building which was closed for City funded electrical renovations. A twist of “luck” for the relocation, indeed!

It didn’t take a waterfall to let us know a thorough and sound plan for repairs was in order. A generous grant by John R. Oishei Foundation funded a $120K facility and space utilization study of our three building campus to be delivered summer 2016. The resulting road map will explore the potential of our entire campus, services and relationships, while prioritizing capital projects and estimating costs.

In January, the Museum board and staff participated in a transformational planning session assessing TBHM priorities and considering national trends for history museums. This precious time for sharing and thinking, facilitated by author, architect and historian Franklin Vagnone, opened the floor to discussions around relevancy, identity, physical fitness and commitment to the community. The results of these discussions and our facility “road map” will frame our strategic vision for 2016-2019.

I encourage you to remain, or become, engaged in the further processes ahead so that through our actions we better serve and reflect your aspirations and expectations of The Buffalo History Museum.

All my best,

Melissa

P.S. Please remember to check out our calendar of events and join us for a season of fascinating stories!