Collections

Ten Things You Can You In The Research Library On Your Next Visit

If you’re a first-time visitor to the Research Library, it is not immediately apparent what you can do and discover here. So we thought we’d write a list for the neophyte.

1. Look for a relative or ancestor’s obituary. We have a card file with names of people who were listed in obituary columns in Buffalo daily newspapers, 1811-2001. There are about 99,000 names in alphabetical order. While this isn’t every single death reported in almost two centuries of Buffalo newspapers, it is the largest obituary index in Erie County.

MicroFilmScanner2. Read a newspaper published the day you were born. We have Buffalo newspapers on microfilm from 1811 to about 2011, including Polish and German papers published here. We can get out y

our birthday paper, load it on a microfilm reader-printer, and you can make black & white copies from it for $.25/page.

3. See if we have a picture of the house you grew up in. We have about 30,000 house & building photos from Buffalo & surrounding area. Maybe we have your childhood home or corner store.

4. Figure out where your grandparents lived. If no one can recall for sure where Grandma & Grandpa lived, come on in and consult our Buffalo city directories. We have one for every year from 1828 to 2001, with a few gaps.

Stacks5. Look at Buffalo & Erie County atlases. We have roughly one per decade from 1850 to 1950, with a few gaps. What’s great about them is that they show footprints of individual houses & buildings that used to be there or might still be there today. You can look at them one by one and see when your house first appears, which helps you narrow down when it was built.

6. Check our vintage postcards. We have about 8,000 Buffalo picture postcards organized by subject (including many duplicates), plus we have a separate album of about 400 Buffalo cards collected and donated by Phyllis Peyton. Her album is out on a counter for anyone to browse.

7. Use our WiFi. The Museum has free wifi throughout our building. Ask for the log-in at the Front Desk or in the Research Library.

8. Check out our new acquisitions. We are always adding to the collection in one way or another. We purchase Buffalo-related books today that we think will answer questions tomorrow and beyond. Maybe we found something that you didn’t know existed.

9. Look at church records on microfilm. These are important for family history research. New York State did not pass a vital records law until 1880, meaning that there are no government-issued birth certificates, marriage licenses, or death certificates prior to1880. This is where sacramental records come in. We have baptism, marriage, and death records on microfilm from about 180 local congregations, mostly Roman Catholic, Episcopal, and Methodist. Special bonus: we also have some cemetery records on microfilm.

CarcCatalog10. Pick our brains. Got a Buffalo-area history question or research problem and you don’t know where to start? Our expert librarians are on duty whenever the Research Library is open to the public. While we cannot undertake your research for you, we can identify and pull out relevant books, clippings, atlases, pictures, microfilms, or more, to get you started. We don’t always know what the answer is; we know (or work to figure out) where the answer is.

The Research Library cares for everything two-dimensional collected by the Museum since 1862, mostly paper-based stuff. This includes books, periodicals, newspapers, letters, diaries, personal papers, postcards, photographs, prints, drawings, scrapbooks, microfilms, atlases, maps, pamphlets, and audio-visual material.

The Library is open Wednesdays through Saturdays, 1:00 to 5:00 pm, plus evening hours on Wednesdays, 6:00 to 8:00 pm. No appointments are necessary. Admission is free for members and $7 for general. Questions? Call us at (716) 873-9644 ext. 306 or email library@buffalohistory.org.

Cynthia Van Ness, MLS
Director of Library & Archives

*This article was featured in the Winter 2016-2017 issue of “The Album,” The Buffalo History Museum’s quarterly newsletter. 

Lt. Col. Michael Wiedrich

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Painting of Col. Michael Wiedrich, by A. E. Elsasser, 1892. From the TBHM Collection.

Michael Wiedrich (b.1820 – d.1899) immigrated to the United States from Alsace-Lorraine, France in 1837.  At the start of the Civil War in 1861 he was a shipping clerk for Pratt & Letchworth in Buffalo and served as a captain in the 65th Regiment New York State Militia.

Under authority from the War Department, Wiedrich organized a unit known as Battery I of the 1st New York Artillery or Wiedrich’s Battery. It was composed of 140 men and officers exclusively of German descent. The battery participated in battles at Cross Keys, Freeman’s Ford, Second Bull Run, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. Other battles included Lookout Mountain, Kennesaw Mountain, Peach Tree Creek, and the Siege of Atlanta. In February 1863 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the 15th Artillery. Wiedrich’s unit mustered out (disbanded) in 1865.

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Presentation Sword, 1864. The sword’s scabbard is inscribed, “Presented to Lt. Col. Michael Wiedrich by Battery 1, 1st N.Y. Art. May 21, 1864,” it also lists the various battles the unit was engaged in during the Civil War. From TBHM collection.

 

Wiedrich returned to Buffalo after the Civil War, where he held several public offices and was involved in the fire insurance business until his death in 1899.

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Dedication of Wiedrich’s Battery Monument at Gettysburg, PA 1889.

This 1889 newspaper clipping captures the surviving members of the 1st New York Artillery (Wiedrich’s Battery). The clipping is part of a Wiedrich family scrapbook located in the Buffalo History Museum’s Research Library.

 

The plaster model for the bronze bas-relief of Weidrich’s Battery, which appears on the memorial in the photograph, is on display in the Identity section of the exhibit Neighbors: The People of Erie County exhibit.

Walt Mayer
Director of  Museum Collections

*This article was featured in the Spring 2015 issue of “The Album”

From World War 1 to the Saturday Sketch Club

(A) Beuchat 2In our upcoming World War I exhibit, “For Home and Country”, we will be featuring an oil painting by Lt. Clement C. Beuchat, entitled “78 Lightening Division at Thiaucourt, France, 1918”. This piece depicts a group of World War I soldiers on horseback in the town of Thiaucourt, France, most likely illustrating the remains of the town during or after the Battle of Saint-Mihiel.

Clement Beuchat was born in Buffalo, NY on March 28, 1891. He attended the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy and studied under Earnest Fosberry. Beuchat joined the New York National Guard 78th Division. He was involved in the pursuit of Pancho Villa during the Texas Border Campaign from 1914-1917 and he was eventually sent to fight in World War I. Clement continued to paint for the duration of his military service. He painted throughout the Southwest until he was sent to Europe, where he continued his artistic endeavors while stationed in France. Beuchat fought in several major battles during the Great War and received the Victory Medal with three Battle Stars, along with other service awards.  He returned home in 1919, where he became a member of the Fine Arts League and continued to paint until his death in 1955.

(B) Sketch club protest letterWhile doing the research on this painting and Clement, I learned that Beuchat was an original member of the Saturday Sketch Club in Springbrook, New York along with other artists such as Arthur Kowalski, Harry O’Neill, William J. Schwanekamp, and Julius Lankes. (C) Fosbery and JJLThis is notable because there is a sketch box used by Buffalo painter and engraver, J.J Lankes as part of the Saturday Sketch Club, in our collection. The Saturday Sketch Club was formed in reaction to the dismissal of Mr. Earnest Fosberry, an artist and teacher at the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy.  A group of students, including those mentioned above, created this art school with Mr. Fosberry as their instructor and critic, as a way to protest the firing of their favorite teacher.

Saturday Sketch Club 1911

Here is a photo of some of the members of the Saturday Sketch Club of Springbrook, including Beuchat, with his right foot on the step in the center of the picture. Left to right: Thundercloud, a Blackfoot Indian model who served in his early days as scout for Custer’s 7th Cavalry; William J. Schwanekamp; Ernest Fosberry (in Derby hat), instructor; John Kneuhal; Edgar Kowalski; Al Barwell “Shorty”; Jules Meyers; Clement Beuchat (with his right foot on the step in the center of the picture); Myron Moyer; J.J. Lankes; and Harry O’Neill

(E) DSC09674The students would meet at a cabin out in Springbrook, NY to immerse themselves in nature. They all had their own sketch boxes with attached seats that were portable and could be carried throughout the surrounding area to set up a painting station wherever they liked. The sketch boxes, like the one in our collection, were made up of wooden boxes attached to wooden folding stools that had multi-colored canvas seats for the artists to sit on while they worked. The boxes opened on metal hinges that locked to create makeshift easels. Inside the box would be all the tools an artist would need including a wooden palette, paints, paintbrushes, and charcoal.

Saturday Sketch Club, 1911

Left to Right: Bill (William) Schwanekamp, J.J. Lankes, Edgar Kowalski, Clement Beuchat

(G) Sketching at Springbrook

Left to Right: Bill (William) Schwanekamp, J.J. Lankes, Edgar Kowalski, Clement Beuchat

As I transitioned from researching the Clement Beuchat painting to the Saturday Sketch Club, I stumbled upon a large collection of photographs of the original members of the organization, some of which are featured here. Sometimes technology is a wonderful thing and I was able to reach out to Elizabeth Lankes, who uploaded these images to her Flickr account. Elizabeth is the granddaughter of J.J. Lankes and it was so much fun to be able to connect with her.  I truly appreciate all of the photos that she sent me and getting to speak with someone who so clearly treasures her family’s history. This is such a wonderful part of my job as the Registrar at The Buffalo History Museum, getting to learn all of these stories, share them with the public, and interact with others who love our history.  If you want to see more of these photos you can go to Elizabeth’s Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/11435178@N03/albums/72157608622346090

All of the photos of the Saturday Sketch Club were graciously provided by Elizabeth Lankes, Julius’ granddaughter, and are from the Estate of J.J. Lankes.

Rebecca Justinger,
Registrar

Pop Culture in the Research Library

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Rick James. Photo from The Buffalo History Museum Collection.

When hometown heroes make it big in American pop culture, we do our best to make sure that they are represented in the Research Library collection. In alphabetical order, below are some books and other items we have collected on celebrities from Buffalo.

Harold Arlen: rhythm, rainbows, and blues
A biography by Edward Jablonski on the creator of Over the Rainbow”
Call Number: ML 410 .A76 J33 1996

Ani DiFranco: righteous babe
A biography by Raffaele Quirino
Call Number: ML 420 .D555 Q57 2000

Ani DiFranco: righteous babe revisited
Quirino’s biography, updated
Call Number: ML 420 .D56 Q57 2004

Ani DiFranco: verses.
Poetry by Ani DiFranco
Call Number: PS 3604 .I385 A55 2007

Best of Ani DiFranco: piano, vocal, guitar.
Words and music of her top songs
Call Number: Oversize M 1630.18 .D557 B47 1999

Goo Goo Dolls
We have two adorable black & white publicity shots from Warner Bros, ©1993 and ©1999, back when they still wore eye shadow
Call Number: General Subject Collection – Music – Bands.

James, Rick
We have four black & white photos, including two stage shots
Call Number: General Subject Collection – Persons – James, Rick

James, Rick
The confessions of Rick James: memoirs of a super freak
His autobiography, published after his death
Call Number: ML 420 .J233 A3 2007

Rodriguez, Spain
Cruisin’ with the Hound: comics
A graphic novel by the recently-deceased cartoonist, featuring locales and events in Buffalo in the 1950s and’60s.
Call Number: PN 6727 .R625 C78 2012

Milton Rogovin: the making of a social documentary photographer
A biography by Melanie Herzog
Call Number: TR 647 .R62 H47 2006

Investigation of Communist activities in the Buffalo, N.Y. area: hearings, 1957
These transcripts of the hearings held by House Committee on
Un-American  Activities led to the blacklisting of Milton Rogovin
Call Number: HX 92 .B9 A52 1957

Big Russ and me: father and son: lessons of life /
Tim Russert’s affectionate memoir
Call Number: PN 4874 .R78 A3 2004

Smith, Buffalo Bob
We have four black & white photos, including two of a public appearance in Niagara Square in the 1950s
Call Number: General Subject Collection – Persons – Smith, Buffalo Bob

Howdy and me : Buffalo Bob’s own story /
Buffalo Bob Smith’s autobiography
Call Number: PN 1992.77 .H663 S65 1990

These items can be seen during normal library hours, Wednesdays through Saturdays, 1-5 pm and Wednesday evenings 6-8pm. No appointments are necessary.  Questions? Call us at (716) 873-9644 x 306 or email library@buffalohistory.org.

Cynthia Van Ness, MLS
Director of Library & Archives

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

Spotlight Artifact: Life Mask and Hands

abedeathmask

During Abraham Lincoln’s visit to Chicago in March 1860, American sculptor Leonard Volk took a life mask of the future President. It took about an hour to set the plaster on his face with straws in his nostrils, while Lincoln understandably disliked the process, he was pleased with the outcome. In May 1860, the sculptor took castings of Lincoln’s hands in Springfield, IL. Volk decided that he would like the President to hold something when he took the cast of his hands, so Lincoln obliged him by going out to the wood shed, sawing off a broom handle, and smoothing down the edges to hold in his hand.

Volk used the mask and hand castings to sculpt busts and full-length statues of Lincoln. It may be that the Volk mask of Lincoln is the most reliable document of Lincoln’s face. Unlike photographs, it preserved the actual form. In the years since the original mask was made, other sculptors have turned to it for their inspiration. Copies, such as the one in our collection, have been cast and sold commercially several times throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Rebecca Justinger
Registrar

*This article was featured in the Spring 2015 issue of  “The Album”

On This Day: January 24, 1935

bannercan_front

Can of Banner Extra Dry Premium Beer, brewed, canned and packed by George F. Stein Brewery Inc., Buffalo, NY

On this day (OTD) in 1935, the first can of beer was sold in Richmond, Virginia by the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company; 91% of the consumers approved of the canned beer and as they say, the rest is history.  Historically, Buffalo has always been an alcoholic-beverage-loving city – just take a look at the Google maps Buffalo Drinking Map from 1828 to present day that Amy Miller, from our Library, created.   We have numerous beer bottles in our Collection that were used by many of the local brewers throughout Buffalo’s history, but in celebration of the ‘beer can’ theme today, we scanned through our database, Past Perfect, to see what we could find.

Donated in 2011 by Mr. Phillip DiFrancisco, this can of Banner Extra Dry Premium Beer was brewed, canned and packed by George F. Stein Brewery Inc..  The owner of the brewery, Mr. George F. Stein, was born in Germany in 1865, learning how to brew in Bavarian breweries until 1885, when we moved to Buffalo, N.Y. as an employee at the Lang brewery.  He would go on to work for the International brewery and the Clinton Star brewery before starting the Germania Brewing Company (located at Broadway and Bailey avenue) from 1892-1909 with his father-in-law, Conrad Hammer.

bannercan_backFrom 1909 until 1918, Stein operated Stein’s Ale Brewery in Medina but returned to Buffalo as the brewmaster of the Binz brewery at 797-807 Broadway Ave.  In 1920, Prohibition closed all breweries but Stein purchased the Broadway Ave. building in 1928 and began manufacturing liquid malt, concentrated malt and syrups to sell to bakeries as the Broadway Blending Company.  When beer was legalized in 1933, Stein began to brew beer again at the George F. Stein Brewery Inc. until his death in 1938.

After 25 years of successful business, the George F. Stein Brewery Inc. was purchased by the Leisy Brewing Company (Cleveland, OH) and closed shortly thereafter.

What is WorldCat and Why Do We Love It?

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“The majority of information lies outside the Internet.”
– Jens Redmer, Director of Google Book Search, quoted at Slippery Brick, January 2007

“What’s on the web is extremely ephemeral. Very little of it was written before 1995.”
– Brewster Kahle, creator of the Internet Wayback   Machine, quoted in Newsweek, March 29, 2004 p. 58.

Anyone with an interest in the past soon realizes that Google does not represent the sum total of all recorded human knowledge.  The Buffalo History Museum has been collecting paper-based history for 150 years now, amassing library collections that include 23,000 books, 2,000 manuscript collections, 200,000 pictures & photographs, 7,000 postcards, 7,000 microfilms, 10,000 maps, plans, drawings, and posters, hundreds of reel-to-reel audio recordings, hundreds of periodicals, and uncounted thousands of pamphlets, brochures, newspaper clippings, and other paper-based ephemera.

So, considering that people have been storing information on paper for about 1000 years and the internet is only about 20 years old, how do you figure out what is out there for research purposes if it isn’t digitized and optimized for search engines?

Enter WorldCat.org, which you can think of as Google for the offline world.  It is one free giant online card CATalog for the WORLD’s libraries.  The Research Library has been computerizing its bibliographic records for almost 30 years and has contributed over 25,000 of them to WorldCat, which now boasts one billion records of items found in the libraries all over the planet. Those same 25,000 bibliographic records are also searchable in our in-house catalog, FRANK (Find Resources And New Knowledge).

If you look up Lauren Belfer in FRANK, you discover that the Research Library owns her popular Buffalo novel, City of Light.  If you look her up as an author in WorldCat, you discover that there are 21 entries for her, including Swedish, Italian, and French translations of City of Light.  Click on any one title to see which libraries own copies.

When a book actually is online in full text, catalogers can build a link into their bibliographic records, enabling you to read it at your computer.  But only a tiny percentage of books, newspapers, etc. have been scanned.  Your WorldCat search results will usually show you records of undigitized books, maps, newspapers, periodicals, recordings, letters, and diaries that reside in library collections and must be viewed in person.  In other words, the past is not online.

In the Library, we use WorldCat to figure out who owns something when we do not.  WorldCat showed us that the internal business records of the Bethlehem Steel Company (over 200 linear feet!), including the Lackawanna plant, are held by the Hagley Museum in Wilmington, Delaware.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to look in WorldCat for an early short story by Lauren Belfer.  Once you find it, you will discover that it is set in Buffalo and is readable online in full text.  Happy hunting, everyone!

Cynthia Van Ness, MLS
Director of Library & Archives

*This article was featured in the Winter 2012-2013 issue of “The Album”

Spotlight Artifact: Huffy Puffy 999

huffypuffytraintoy

The Fisher-Price Company was founded in 1930 when Herm Fisher began working with Irving Price and Helen Schelle to create toys that “appeal to the imagination, that do something new and surprising and funny.” With their headquarters in East Aurora, NY, Fisher-Price sent their first shipment of toys to Macy’s in New York City in 1931. Fisher-Price was acquired by the Quaker Oats company in 1969 and ultimately purchased by Mattel in 1993. It is now the largest preschool products company in the world and is known for the high quality and durability of its products.

In 1999, the Museum received a large donation of Fisher-Price toys from Mary Brandwein. She established the collection because she found the architecture of the buildings pleasing and Mary collected the pieces with the intention of forming a village with an airport, school, zoo, main street, service station, post office, and so on. The pull toy featured here, from Mrs. Brandwein’s collection, is a wooden train from 1963, labelled “Huffy Puffy 999”. The train has a red plastic face, red wood wheels, a white antennae attached by a spring, and an engine and caboose. The two parts are connected with a metal and plastic hooking system that can uncouple to add more cars to the train.

Rebecca Justinger
Registrar

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

The Apostolic Clock and its many Mysteries

What has an Apostles train that parades every 30 minutes, shows the moon phases, the location of the sun in the sky, and tells you the day and month all at once? Our Apostolic Clock!
clock-face

(If you aren’t familiar with the clock, you can read more about it here and here)

If you are familiar with any of our social media platforms (Instagram, twitter, Facebook), you would have seen that the Apostolic Clock has taken up residence in the entryway of the museum and has resumed enchanting guests with its parade of Apostles.  However, you might not have known about some of its mysteries!

Did you know that…

  • The clock has three different parts that have to be wound at different times? The Apostles parade every 30 minutes so they wind down the fastest; they have to be re-wound every 2 days – if they aren’t, they become stuck 1/3 of the way on parade!
  • Originally, the Apostles paraded on the hour, but it was altered to parade every 30 minutes at the request of museum staff. Marv DeBoy who worked on the clock with Mr. Albert Bull from 1974 onwards, made the modifications.
  • Today, the Apostles come out of a set of doors that opens inward. The doors used to be glued together and opened outward as a single door.
  • All of the Apostles are hand carved and painted wooden figures. While very similar, they differ slightly in the position of their hands, the clothing arrangement and colour and hairstyle.
  • At the top of the clock, there are mysterious metal fixtures that seem to have no purpose. Fred Robjent and Chris Tahk, our wonderful volunteers who have helped maintain the clock for years, have not yet found a purpose for them! Do you know what they are for?
  • There is a hole on the left side that may or may not have been for a light switch. What the light may have illuminated is a still a mystery.
    detailed-clock-face

    • The face of the clock has two larger dials that have painted tin plates of scenery (one even has a castle!) that move independently of each other to mimic moon phases and the movement of the sun.

     

    • The moon dial completes a single revolution ever 91 days and is propelled by a lead weight (which is unusual in design and construction[1])

     

    • The dial with the sun completes a revolution every 24 hours (for 24 hours in a day). What is very interesting though is that the tin plate is mounted on vertical guides – these move the horizon up and down to reflect the winter solstice (at the highest point) and the summer solstice (at the lowest point)!

     

    • The 8-inch terrestrial globe at the bottom of the clock rotates once every 24 hours and is very fragile! It has been conserved at the State University College at Buffalo Art Conservation Department twice: once in 2002 and then in 2008In 2008, wooden dowels were attached inside to help give the globe more structure.  Below are some great ‘After Treatment’ images from its last visit to the Art Conservation Department.

    globe-views

    Now that you know a little more about our clock, you should come for a visit and see how many of these you can spot!  Have you seen any other mysteries about the clock? We’d love to hear any answers or theories – even more mysteries!

Britt Call,
THE GREG D. TRANTER COLLECTION MANAGER

 


[1] P41. HAGANS, Orville R. “The Myles Hughes Apostolic Clock.” Watch & Clock Review 50.8 (August 1983): 40-43.

ABOUT THE COLONEL GARDNER LEGACY FUND

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Gardner Coins

Colonel Gardner was a life-long resident and an enthusiastic booster of Buffalo. A collector, he avidly pursued interests in coins, stamps and local history.

The old Historical Society “day books” document his frequent visits to donate items from his collections. With the support of Colonel Gardner’s descendants, TBHM deaccessioned the numismatic and philatelic collections.

Proceeds from the sale established the Colonel H. Gardner Fund in 2005, providing resources to preserve, share and build our collection.

Since the Fund was established, it has provided The Buffalo History Museum the ability to:
· Conserve 132 artifacts, contributing over $180,000 in expert artifact treatment.
· Purchase nine acquisitions, from Charles Penny’s Larkin collection to a collection of artwork by Hubert Crawford.
·  Invest over $884,509 in state-of-the-art collections care and storage.

Prior to the Gardner Fund, the Museum had to seek funds for artifact conservation 3-5 years before an exhibit could be produced. It took years to raise funds to conserve the artifacts displayed in our 2001 exhibit, Spirit of the City: Reimagining the Pan American Exposition.

perrysmesstable1812

Conservation treatment of Commodore Perry’s mess table from the U.S.S. Lawrence during the War of 1812.

The Gardner Fund has liberated us in many ways! An example is our series of War of 1812 exhibitions. We started artifact conservation using our own resources provided by the Gardner Fund as soon as we began planning the exhibits.

Kim Luangpakdy
Director of Development