Artifacts

Secrets from the stacks: Erie County Penitentiary Prisoner Identification Cards

The “Secrets from the Stacks” is a program that is offered only a few times a year to spotlight items the Research Library does not typically get to show off. The program being held on June 6, 2015 will feature the Erie County Penitentiary prisoner identification cards (Mss. B85-6). The collection dates from 1896 to 1914, with the bulk of the photographs being from 1899 to 1905. This collection was donated to the Research Library by the Erie County Correctional Facility (Wende) in 1986 and just recently has been arranged, indexed and cataloged, making it accessible to interested researchers with a Scholar Pass.

Antwater Back WatermarkThe identification cards used by the Erie County Penitentiary are the precursor to modern day finger printing. The cards mimic the Bertillon system in order to identify repeat offenders by their physical features and dimensions, such as their head length, length of middle finger and the length of their foot. The cards also contain the offender’s name, aliases, age, nativity, occupation, charges and sentencing information. These cards were then arranged by a unique system and referenced upon their re-arrest. The Research Library greatly appreciated the donation due to the collections valuable genealogical, sociological, criminology and anthropological research potential.

The program will feature many of the identification cards for the attendees to view, along with photographs of the Erie County Penitentiary to help place the collection within context and other true crime resources. The program will run from 10 am to 12 pm on June 6, 2015. The completed index is available online, by going to http://tinyurl.com/TBHM-prisoners.

Amy Miller
Assistant Librarian & Archivist

Spotlight Artifact: Pacemaker

From the TBHM Collection Medtronic Minneapolis, MN 1965

From the TBHM Collection
Medtronic
Minneapolis, MN
1965

In 1958, Dr. Wilson Greatbatch of Clarence, NY invented and patented the lifesaving cardiac pacemaker. Dr. Greatbatch worked alongside Dr. William M. Chardack and Dr. Andrew A. Gage to create the device and it was first used in humans at Millard Fillmore Hospital in 1960. The variable rate/variable output artificial implantable cardiac pacemaker and the fixed rate/fixed output artificial implantable cardiac pacemaker, which are shown in the photograph above, are on permanent display in the Bflo. Made! Exhibit. These two medical marvels are perfect examples of the ingenuity and inventiveness that Western New York has to offer.

Dr. Greatbatch founded Wilson Greatbatch Ltd. in 1970 to develop long-lived primary batteries to fuel pacemakers. He created the lithium iodide battery system to replace the mercury batteries that powered the early models that are on display in the museum. To this day, both the pacemakers and the special batteries that meet the particular needs of the pacemaker’s pulse generators are made by Wilson Greatbatch, Ltd. in Clarence. Dr. Greatbatch’s exceptional inventions maintain a profound, global impact in our lives.

– Rebecca Justinger, Registrar

*This article was featured in the Winter 2013 issue of “The Album”

Spotlight Artifact: Sholes & Glidden Typewritter

TypewritterC.L. Sholes, an American mechanical engineer, along with his colleagues Carlos Glidden and Samuel Soule, invented the first practical typewriting machine in 1866. After many years of alterations, experiments, and patent applications, the Sholes & Glidden typewriter, pictured in the image above, was first manufactured in 1873. This was a drastically improved model from their first attempts and, in many ways, is similar to today’s typewriters. Sholes sold the rights to Densmore, who in turn approached Philo Remington, the maker of Remington rifles, to help produce and market the new device. The first “Sholes & Glidden Type Writer” was offered for sale to the public in 1874, but was not a commercial success until several years later when some improvements to the keyboard were made by the Remington engineers. This particular typewriter was sent by Sholes to Julius H. Dawes of Buffalo. It is a handmade prototype, one of only five created and the last known to exist. It was used in Dawes’ law office for 17 years before being donated to The Buffalo History Museum.

An important aspect of Sholes’ invention, one that is still with us today, is the creation of the QWERTY keyboard. So named because of the first 6 letters on the top left of the keyboard, the design was so important to the creation of the typewriter that it was included in Sholes’ patent applications. The placement of the keys was a specific choice on Sholes’ part so as not to jam the moving parts of his machine. In his very first model, Sholes placed the keys in two rows, in alphabetical order. The result was sluggish and the machine often halted whenever someone tried to use it. The early letters were placed on the ends of rods called ‘typebars.’ If two typebars that were located next to each other were used in succession, they would clash with each other. So Sholes figured out that if he took the most common letter pairs and made sure that their typebars were not next to each other, then the type writer was much less likely to jam. The QWERTY keyboard was the result of this design and has been with us ever since.

–  Rebecca Justinger, Registrar

*This article was featured in the Spring 2014 issue of “The Album”

Spotlight Artifact: 129 Year Old Piece of Cake

President_cleveland_weddingOn June 2, 1886, President Grover Cleveland and Miss Frances Folsom married in the White House’s first wedding ceremony. Folsom, only 21 years old, was well-educated, beautiful, and charming, endearing the new First Lady to her American Public. 2013 Valentine ClevelandWhile critics of the President considered the May-September marriage scandalous, the public was enamored by the First Lady’s youth and beauty, likening the White House romance to Royal nuptials. The President’s handlers also capitalized, using France’s age as a positive image for the 40-year-old Cleveland. Today, 129 years after America’s first “royal” wedding, the Buffalo History Museum shares in its memory by displaying a small slice of wedding cake. Guests attending the ceremony were given cake boxes, holding small groom’s cakes. These cakes were dark and soaked in alcohol which may account for its excellent state of preservation. grovercakeIn 1886 it was not uncommon to receive a piece of wedding cake as a parting favor from the wedded couple. Tradition dictated that if one placed the cake under their pillow they would dream of their future spouse. – Rebecca Justinger, Registar   *This article was featured in the Spring 2013 issue of “The Album”

 

Celebrate Grover Cleveland’s Birthday & learn more about our only president to serve two non-consecutive terms tonight at 6pm. 
Visit http://www.buffalohistory.org for more details. 

Buffalo’s Julius Francis and Mr. Lincoln

JuliusFrancisJulius E. Francis came to Buffalo in 1835 from Connecticut and ran a successful drug store business for nearly 35 years, mostly at 268 Main Street. The photo above is of his store at 16 South Division St. Beginning in 1865, with the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Francis became absorbed in preserving and promoting the martyred President’s memory. He collected much Civil War and Lincoln memorabilia, but determined that there must be a national observance of Lincoln’s birthday, February 12. A bachelor, he declared that this cause was “my wife and my life.” At his own expense, Francis held the first of seven annual observances of Lincoln’s birthday. Each year until his death in 1881, he rented a hall, arranged the speakers, poets, music, essayists, and invited the public to attend free of charge and honor Abraham Lincoln.

PAB_11.14.2007 Lincoln-His two attempts to persuade Congress to establish a national Lincoln’s Birthday holiday failed and he died in 1881, having founded the Buffalo Lincoln’s Birthday Association which continued the work. In his will, he made the Association heirs to his house and lot at 145 East Eagle Street, and six $1,000 bonds. In 1901, the Association contracted with New York sculptor, Charles H. Niehaus, to create a statue of Lincoln that would grace the new Buffalo Historical Society in September, 1902. Their Francis legacy had grown to $10,000 ($221,556 in 2005 dollars), of which they spent $6,000 for the 1,200 pound bronze statue. At least one copy of this statue exists, in a park in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The chair is a copy of Lincoln’s “chair of state,” stored at the Smithsonian.

The original location of the statue was in a portion of the new Buffalo History Museum building named, “The Lincoln Room.” That room also contained the Francis Lincoln memorabilia collection. In the early 1930’s, the statue was moved outdoors in front of the South Portico of The Buffalo History Museum, where is remains today.

Lincoln’s Birthday was never designated as a national holiday (unlike George Washington’s), but was approved as a legal holiday in a number of states. Today, most people assume incorrectly that President’s Day nationally honors both Washington and Lincoln.

2006 is the 132nd year during which observances have been made in Buffalo for Lincoln’s birthday. The ceremonies are carried on in Julius Francis’ memory, also, for having the passion and the vision to celebrate one of the greatest American Presidents.

Article written by Susan Eck and featured in “Western New York Heritage Magazine”

Join us this Sunday, February 15th for President Lincoln’s Birthday Celebration!

Howard Beach Collection: Student Notes

Our project to research a portion of the Howard Beach is underway. My group and I have selected a number of glass slides. Some of us chose a theme, like military uniforms or wedding day portraits, or whatever they found interesting. My selections range from a high school hockey team portrait, to a gentleman outfitted in an elaborate tux, to a rather humorous baby. I look forward to researching these individuals and learning more about them and their lives.

Figure 1: 39837 Bishop Colton Negative

Figure 1: 39837 Bishop Colton Negative

Since our slides have been selected, we have photographed them so that they can be preserved digitally. Once these were digitized we were able to invert them, bringing the image to life. I must admit the first time I saw one of my slides inverted I shouted in excitement; the image was so much better than I had imagined. Here I have a sample of a slide of one Bishop Colton and what I assume was his cathedral. I have more research ahead of me to know for sure.

Figure 2: 39837 Bishop Colton Positive

Figure 2: 39837 Bishop Colton Positive

Helping in part of this research is the card catalog that was also found along with the slides. Having an archives in original order like this is incredibly important, this gives us a look into the mind of the archives creator, in this case, Beach himself. It shows us how he thought, how he worked, what a typical business day would be like for him. Once we located the associated catalog card for each of our slides, we digitized these as well, as seen in Figure 3 here. Another aspect I particularly like about the catalog card is that they were all hand written by Beach himself, this is just another of the rich connections to the past that this project has to offer.

Figure 3: 39837 Bishop Colton Catalog Card

Figure 3: 39837 Bishop Colton Catalog Card

From here I have hours of research to look forward to. I hope to uncover everything I can about the people in these images. I can only imagine the histories, mysteries, war stories, scandals, or family legends I may discover.

– Megan Barr
Museum Studies student at Buffalo State

Discovering the Howard D. Beach Collection: A Journey Into History (Part 2)

beach14Today, I went to class with more excitement and anticipation about what I might find in the next box of negatives. I chose another banker box at random marked 44400-44800. I opened the lid to find the negative boxes extremely decayed.

Figure 1: The negative boxes were all falling apart, and the negatives stuck together.

beach16Figure 2(left): Two images stuck together from moisture and mold growth.

beach17Figure 3: Before these negatives can be preserved they must go through conservation. There is tissue paper that is not acid free, therefore it contributes to the continued decay of the negative, other issues of decay include emulsion silvering, water and mold damage. Here are three negatives stuck together and clearly illuminates the tissue paper used to separate the negatives. We now know that acid-free paper is great for archival preservation however, this paper is not acid free and as long as there is tissue paper in between the negatives, there continues to be decay. In order to preserve this collection, first it must be stabilized. Since there is so much damage and no identifiable data on this entire series of negatives the entire banker box full of negatives must be marked for conservation.

After musing for a while about the massive undertaking it is going to require just to stabilize the collection, before it will be ready to be exhibited, calculated out could take years. Consider that there are 13 Graduate students currently working on a mere 15-30 images each, barely is a drop in the bucket of this collection. It is going to require not only funding but dedication and determination to keep as much of this collection intact during the stabilization and preservation stages. It begs the question, should they all be saved? In my humble opinion, I think so. Who knows the connections that can be made through researching the images, names and records!

With only a little time left in class, I moved onto another Banker box full of 8” X 10” Negative Boxes from various manufacturers. Still feeling excited but moreover, present to the massive undertaking of a project I am only beginning to understand.

– Danielle Delia
Museum Studies Student at Buffalo State

Discovering the Howard D. Beach Collection: A Journey Into History

This is the story of discovering of the Howard D. Beach Photographic Studio Collection through the course MST 623 Digital Collections. Made possible through generous donations and the joint efforts of Dr. Conides and Noelle Wiedemer at Buffalo State College and The Buffalo History Museum.

TBHM    beach1

Figure 1 & 2: Welcome to The Buffalo History Museum, the home to the Howard D. Beach photography studio collection of glass negative plates.

beach2

Figure 3: Here is where the collection is currently being housed. Our class consists of 13 Graduate students, who are unearthing images that have yet to be viewed by anyone in almost 100 years. We are the first class to have our hands in this collection under the guidance of our professor Noelle Wiedemer. It is truly an exciting time!

The collection was found in the basement of the Howard D. Beach home and photographic studio when it was sold. Negatives, Paintings, Prints, Records, and Receipts were found in various states. From pristine condition to varying degrees of decay.beach3

Figure 5: These boxes represent a small smattering of the “other” items found among his collection besides the glass negatives. Some of the materials have been destroyed by time and weather, while other items are in almost pristine condition.

beach4 Figure 6: A yellowed image, clearly a very old print. Just one of many treasures waiting for their history to be revealed.

Figure 7: Some images, apparently frobeach5m first glance the images seem to be charcoal or pastel on paper, approximately, 16” X 20”. At this point, there are more questions than answers.

What are these? What were they used for? Did he use them somehow as back grounds that he super imposed in his photographs? Only time and looking further will tell.

beach6Figure 8: Walking into one of the rooms that store the Beach colbeach7lection, classmates are looking through a box of 6 ½” X 8” glass negatives box and showed me this; Figure 9: Excited to see H.D.B. (Howard D. Beach) showing women utilizing books in his photographs has set my mind in motion. I can’t help but wonder what year this photograph was taken nor what else might be uncovered with each box that is opened. It is hard to imagine 60,000 glass negatives. To help give the reader perspective, consider that each box in the background of Figure 9, contains 6-8 boxes containing approximately 12-16 negatives each.

beach8Figure 10: Today I opened the bankers box marked 42400-42700. As I had randomly selected a box of the 8” X 10” negatives, I had no idea what I would find inside! My mind raced about the possibilities of the hidden treasures that lay within; Gloves applied, equipped with pen, paper, camera and a light box, I gingerly pulled the first box of negatives out and laid them on the table. The box is numbered, it is unclear at this time, what it belongs to, however, I must be patient, as there are many steps to uncover the history of these negatives

Figure 11: Looking in the Banker’s Box marked 42400-42700, rbeach9eveals five Hammer 8“ X 10” Photographic Dry Plate negative boxes in varying degrees of decay. Forgetting for a while to write any observations down at all, engrossed in the details of the glass, fascinated by the images of countless faces that have no significance to me, and yet, the negatives state with dignity that they lived. I find myself drawn to the details that accompanied each image and in Beach’s own handwriting, the name of the subject(s), delivery due date, Reference number(s) that correlated to the customer’s details stored in a meticulously kept card catalog.

beach10Figure 12: Manufacturer Hammer Dry Plate Company, Negative Box top. The image reveals the number 42400, which correlates to the numbers of the negatives found inside, or did presumably sometime in the past.

Figure 13: The above image is marked as the N Literary Society. The negative is shown with the emulsion side up, with the name of the customer, date (print was due for delivery to customer and a corresponding number that relates to the card catalog of Howard D. beach12Beach’s customers.

Figure 15: My curiosity continues to be peeked when I found this image of an older woman with her reading glasses holding a book open seemingly to a specific page. I can’t help but wonder if I will be able to read the poem when the negative is digitally inverted.

After several hours of looking through the five boxes I came away with a few images that struck a chord. I still have more images to select before I begin my research on the individuals of the images I have selected to research.

– Danielle Delia
Museum Studies student at Buffalo State

Spotlight Artifacts

gurley candles

Candles
Gurley Novelty Company
Buffalo, NY
Paraffin Wax
1950s-1960s

Rebecca Justinger
Registrar

The Gurley Novelty Company of Buffalo, NY started as the W & F Manufacturing Company. Created in 1927 by Franklin Gurley, the W & F Manufacturing Company was a confectionery company that produced all kinds of candies, chocolates, and wax novelties. In 1939, Mr. Gurley was approached by the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company, now known as ExxonMobil, to create a line of decorative novelty candles to help use up the excess paraffin wax that is created as a by-product from refining oil. The candles were made in Mr. Gurley’s manufacturing plant in Buffalo and sold under the name Tavern Novelty Candles. It was not until 1949 that the company was renamed The Gurley Novelty Company. The new line of wax decorations was quite successful, and by the late 1940s, a vast majority of Gurley’s profits were a result of his novelty candles.

The Buffalo History Museum has several holiday Gurley candles in our collection. They are in excellent condition because they were never lit. These pop culture pieces from the 1950s and 1960s were rarely purchased as practical candles. Instead, consumers saved them and used them to decorate their homes during the holidays. As a result, Gurley Novelty candles are popular collectibles as so many remain intact. The most sought after are the Halloween and Christmas themed pieces, while Thanksgiving turkeys and pink Easter rabbits also remain popular with collectors.

First Memorable Museum Experience

Stayed at the Otesaga Hotel and walked down the iconic main street with its many shops, unique architecture and tree lined streets to get to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Photo courtesy of: The National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Photo courtesy of: The National Baseball Hall of Fame

I was very excited and could not stop talking as I walked with my brother and father. As we approached it was a large brick building with “National Baseball Hall of Fame” engraved in the stone on the front of the brick building.

After my Dad bought our tickets we walked through a turnstile like you were entering a stadium and we entered a large room that felt and looked like a stadium. It happened to be a replica of Ebbets Field (a very historic baseball stadium).

I was completely enthralled with the displays of memorabilia, objects and stuff. It was incredible to see a jersey of Babe Ruth, Shoeless Joe Jackson’s bat, Ty Cobb’s spikes. And then seeing objects of my heroes, Mickey Mantle’s baseball hat, Bob Gibsons’s mitt, Pete Rose’s dirty baseball pants. It was overwhelming and magnificent at the same time. My heart was racing and I remember my father commenting that my palms were sweating.

The Babe Ruth room. Photograph courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Babe Ruth room. Photograph courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Going into the room with all the Hall of Fame plaques and seeing the hall of famers was awe-inspiring. The Bronze plaques with the head of each hall of famer and all their career statistics side by side were impressive.

Then going into the World Series Room and experiencing the film highlights of the most important and memorable plays in World Series history and hearing the announcer’s excitement had goose bumps running down my spine and my adrenalin was flowing. Also, seeing the tickets and programs from those games I was really taken by and I remember telling my Dad I want to collect programs and tickets, they were really neat.

I was eight years old when we went. I was a wide eyed kid completely enthralled by seeing and experiencing my baseball heroes. I was really taken by the objects and their historical significance.

We stopped in the store on the way out of the museum and my Dad bought me a statue of Rogers Hornsby (one of the hall of famers) that was a head and shoulders likeness of him sitting on a wooden base that was his Hall of Fame Plaque. That statue sat on my dresser for at least ten years, until I went to college.

Wall of Stuff - Bills CollectionThe Hall of Fame Museum visit had a profound impact on me. I have forever been a sports fan and it energized my interest in collecting. A few months later my Dad took me to my first Buffalo Bills football game, bought me a program and a bobblehead doll and my Bills collection began.

Greg Tranter
TBHM Board Member