Collections

Buffalo Will See It Through

LibertyBondLowresPart of the process of preparing for a major exhibit is to get familiar with the relevant material items in our collection. One of the things we did in the Library is to compile a bibliography, called Buffalo in World War I, which gives the researcher a good idea of what we have before planning a visit. You can browse it here:

http://tinyurl.com/TBHM-WWI

We thought we’d feature a few World War I pieces in this newsletter.

War Exposition, Buffalo

In 1918 and 1919, the U.S. Government hosted a series of War Expositions around the country. The show came to the Broadway Auditorium and Elmwood Music Hall from January 4 to 12, 1919. Some of the featured exhibits were American war trophies; weapons and other goods from the U.S Army & Navy; a British government collection of war relics; a British collection of German contraband found in the mails; military training material about “social hygiene” (sexually transmitted infections), and live demonstrations of Boy Scout skills. The Library has the souvenir catalogue from the Exposition.

Fort Porter Reporter, January 31-September 29, 1919

Long demolished to make way for the Peace Bridge, Fort Porter was an active Army base during World War I. This newspaper succeeded Trench and Camp as the fort’s weekly soldier paper. It reported on such activities as the construction of a new garage; the arrival of male nurses; the value of the X-ray; the anticipation of a jazz dance at the Elmwood Music Hall; the meaning of insignia on uniforms; the proper disposition of enemy goods captured during battle; and notices of casualties, weddings, and promotions. Our issues are in hard copy in a single bound volume.

Guide to Buffalo and Niagara Falls for the Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines of the United States and its Allies

It is a short publication with a long name.  This foldout brochure was compiled by the Buffalo Commission on War Camp Community Service in 1918. The first order of business was to alert members of the armed forces where they could find inexpensive lodgings in Buffalo. In 1918, there were three Service Clubs operating, all in or near downtown Buffalo.  These were destinations designed for visiting soldiers, featuring such amenities as meals, baths, “writing rooms,” reading rooms, and entertainment. Servicemen were also informed about libraries, military offices, railroad stations, hospitals, major churches, and entertainment. During the war, seats at the Buffalo Baseball Park, later the site of Offermann Stadium, were free to men in uniform.

Duffy’s War: Fr. Francis Duffy, Wild Bill Donovan, and the Irish Fighting 69th in World War I

Published in 2008 by Stephen Harris, this book is one of our more recent acquisitions. The 69th Infantry Regiment is presently headquartered in Manhattan. During World War I, one of its members was a Buffalo soldier, William J. Donovan, who later went on to found the Office of Strategic Services, known today as the CIA. When he joined this unit, Donovan was a 34-year-old attorney. At the end of the war, he was a colonel. Francis P. Duffy, a military chaplain, was revered by his troops and earned more decorations than any other clergyman in U.S. Army history. Duffy Square in New York City is named in his honor.

Buffalo Will See It Through

This slogan was coined to support the Liberty Loan drives. It was produced and distributed as a poster and handbill. In a previous newsletter, we published a photograph of a young man pasting  it to a telephone pole. In the Library’s vertical files are examples of the original poster in its original red, white, and blue. 

Cynthia Van Ness, MLS
Director of Library & Archives

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

Spotlight Artifact: Popcorn HandCart

handcartStarting in the mid-1960s, a Greek immigrant named James Eoannou purchased his friend’s concession pushcart and began selling popcorn, peanuts, and corn-fritters in North Buffalo neighborhoods. He later moved to Delaware Road and began servicing the suburban neighborhoods in the Town of Tonawanda and the Village of Kenmore. One of the signals that summer had come to Buffalo was the arrival of the popcorn man. James was a full-time cook for the Buffalo Athletic Club and loved to go for long, rambling walks. He decided to put his walks to good use and bring some joy to children, and often the adults, of these neighborhoods. 

The wooden handcart is painted red, white, and blue and has glass windows and a glass door to access the popcorn compartment. The cart was made by A. Elsinghorst, at the Elsinghorst Building located on 138-140 Broadway in Buffalo. This wonderful addition to our collection, donated to us by Mr. Eoannou’s family, includes the original tarp for covering the goods in the cart, two denim aprons, with three pockets, that were worn by James, and 40 red, white, and blue paper popcorn bags of varying sizes. The handcart is a great Buffalo summertime memory. 

Rebecca Justinger
Registrar

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

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

rickjames_onstage

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?

portershelf-small

“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.”