history

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. 

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

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

I Found a Newspaper in My Wall

newspaper_texture2814Every few months, the Library gets a call from a homeowner who is in the middle of a remodeling project. It usually goes like this: “I was tearing out my kitchen/bathroom/den and I found a page/section of Courier-Express/Buffalo Evening News from [date] in the wall/floor/ceiling. Does it have any value? Would you like to have it?”

The newspaper-in-the-wall discovery is surprisingly common. Perhaps it fell in through an opening the attic, a possibility in balloon-framed houses. Perhaps someone working on that wall left it there on purpose. Sometimes I wonder if there was a folk practice among tradesmen to leave a dated artifact behind to show when they had been there. But this is sheer speculation.

From the dates supplied by our callers, it seems that the newspaper-in-the-wall was most prevalent between the World Wars. A simple Google search on found a newspaper in the wall turned up stories from around the country of papers dated from the 1920s to the 1940s found during home remodeling projects.

So, let’s answer the top two questions from homeowners:

Does it have any value?
Probably only sentimental. IRS regulations prohibit museum employees from appraising (determining the market value) of private property. We suggest searching eBay to get a rough idea of values. For example, President Kennedy assassination newspapers in mint condition are listed on eBay from $5 to $100. In the end, an object is worth only what someone is willing to pay for it. Which leads to the second question:

newspaper_texture2821Would you like to have it?
Thanks, but no. Newspapers stored in walls are rarely in good condition. They are likely to be incomplete, torn, brittle, discolored, moldy, mildewed, possibly even infested with insects. We cannot risk exposing museum collections or visitors to these hazards. You have our blessing to display, sell, or discard your newspaper-in-the-wall as you see fit.

Don’t get me wrong: libraries have been collecting newspapers pretty much since the invention of newspapers. We pro-actively purchase them on microfilm. It is stable, compact, sturdy, tamper-proof, and resistant to mold, mildew, and insects. No one can deface a page or tear a picture out of film.

Here at the Buffalo History Museum, we have over 200 years of Buffalo newspapers on about 6,500 rolls of microfilm. Our microfilm reader-printer machines make copies from the film for $.25/each. Plus, like most libraries, we lend our newspaper films via interlibrary loan to out-of-town researchers. Readers who wish to borrow film need to make arrangements with your local library, who will handle the request on your behalf. There may be nominal fees.

Have you found a newspaper in your wall? If so, please send us pictures and stories to add to this page! And if there are homeowners or tradespeople out there who ever stuffed a newspaper in the wall during a remodeling or construction project, please tell us about it.

Cynthia Van Ness
DIRECTOR OF LIBRARY & ARCHIVES

My Collecting Passion

Part of TBHM Bill's Collection

My first pack of Football Cards

My passion for collecting began as a young boy when I bought my first pack of football cards in 1965. When I opened the pack to see a Buffalo Bills player on the 2 ½” by 4 ½” card with a pink background and smelled the fresh Topps chewing gum, I immediately fell in love with the idea of collecting cards and the thrill of discovering which players would be inside each pack. This thrill was addictive to me as a young boy, and coincided with my intense interest in football I picked up from my grandfather Cy Sanders, who played college football for Knute Rockne at Notre Dame. Those interests combined with me watching the AFL Champion Buffalo Bills on television and my passion was born. This collector’s passion continued to grow each week as I received my $.25 allowance and rushed to the corner store, on the same city block as my elementary school, to buy another pack of Topps cards.

My first football game

My first football game was an overwhelming experience. To think that I was going to see all my favorite Bills players, Jack Kemp, Elbert Dubenion, Tom Sestak and Mike Stratton that I watched on television, live, in person was almost beyond my imagination.

Part of TBHM Bill's Collection

The anticipation and excitement running through me was almost uncontrollable as I rode with my Dad in his 1964 Ford Station Wagon to my first live football game. As we neared the stadium, the concrete facade of the stadium rose up from the horizon. It seemed so big, and the sight of it made my heart race with excitement.

Walking among all the parked cars, seeing all the people grilling food, eating, throwing footballs, was an amazing sight to behold. As we got closer to the entrance gate, I noticed vendors with carts, selling souvenirs. Immediately, I ran to one of them to get a close up of what they were selling. After reviewing all of the items for sale, I begged my Dad to buy me a bobble head doll and a pennant. Luckily he relented, and my collecting passion grew. I thought this experience was just as good as, if not better than, getting packs of football cards.

Part of TBHM Bill's Collection

Upon entering the stadium, I saw another vendor standing next to a few boxes, yelling “Get your program, get your game program, only $.50.” Again, I begged my Dad to buy me a program, which he did. I must have leafed through that program at least a thousand times, until the pages became dog eared. Incidentally, I now own every program from every Bills game.

Following the game, a Bills victory that solidified my attachment to the team forever, I returned home and placed the bobble head doll on my bedroom dresser in the most prominent spot. I hung the pennant on the wall behind my bed, so I could see it each night before going to sleep.

I still have the original three collectibles from that first game I attended with my Dad, and since 1965, have amassed the largest Buffalo Bills football memorabilia collection.

Passion for History

Part of TBHM Bill's Collection

As I went through school, I really enjoyed my history classes and was especially interested in American History. When I graduated from college my interest in American History aligned well with my Buffalo Bills collecting passion. The Bills are much more than a football team to Western New York. They are a critical part of the fabric of the community and the region’s history. As I began earning my own money, I started to add to my Collection with a focus on capturing the Buffalo Bills history from their founding in 1960. I thought back to all of the football cards I had collected throughout my youth that I had left at my parents’ house when I left for college. Upon returning home and much to my disappointment, I learned that my mother had thrown out most of my football cards when cleaning house while I had been away. As I would tell her years later, she and other mothers like her (with the desire to clean) helped create an entire industry. The value of baseball and football cards has increased due to their scarcity. As baby boomers try to recapture their childhood, these cards continue to rise in value.

That setback of losing my precious football cards further fueled my passion to collect the story of the Bills history through football cards, programs, publications, and collectibles of all sorts.

Part of TBHM Bill's Collection

The Hunt

One of the thrills of collecting is “the hunt,” the passion and focus to find another collectible to add to your growing collection. The thrill of finding the item you don’t yet have makes the hunt worthwhile. I believe it is the combined passion of the hunt and the thrill of finding an item you don’t yet have in your collection which fuel the collector’s desire.

My hunting and searching have taken me to countless garage sales, flea markets, sports card shows, memorabilia shops, antique markets, used book stores, toy stores, malls, stadium shops and other collectors homes. Always on the search and looking for that elusive Buffalo Bills collectible. 

The best feeling for me as a collector is that evoked on a crisp fall morning before dawn breaks at the Clarence flea market, flashlight in-hand, hunting for Bills collectibles. Moving among the vast array of artifacts and collectibles from dealer to dealer, rooting through box after box, I then feel the thrill in finding a new Bills item for my Collection.

Before eBay came along, I scoured through classified advertisements in the Buffalo News, Sports Collectors Digest, Beckett, among others to find another collectible. In addition, I sent hundreds of letters to fellow collectors, dealers, and teams and made dozens of telephone calls networking with other collectors and dealers asking about Bills collectibles.

To obtain autographs of players, I purchased address lists and sent letters to the players’ homes. I went to the Bills annual training camp and hung out after games outside the team locker room, trying to obtain autographs. In addition, I attended many events where players were signing – commemorative dinners, card shows, book signings, and store promotions.

I have had many wonderful, memorable experiences while searching for my collectibles.

Greg Tranter
TBHM Board Member

Affordable Summer Fun

SummerPassFlyerAs a twenty-something professional, looking for something to do after work – something cost effective, interesting, and fun – with so much going on in WNY, can be quite a hunt. That’s why I am so excited to share the news about the great deal that the Summer Season Pass offers.

potp_INFORMERSsized

Party on the Portico featuring the Informers, July 2013

The Buffalo History Museum has partnered with Preservation Buffalo Niagara this summer to offer a joint membership for the 2014 June, July and August months, for only twenty dollars!

All membership perks are honored by The Museum and PBN: free exhibits, discounted Party on the Portico happy hour series (only $5!), free educational programming, and much more.

All told, the Buffalover will fall even deeper in love with the city after taking advantage of this great deal. Check it out, give me a call and I’ll sign you up: 873 -9644 ext 318; or, register online.

Hope to see you on the Portico … or maybe at a lecture … or maybe on a tour!

Alexis Greinert
Donor Relations and Membership Coordinator 

Signs from Different Times

Working in the museum’s Collections Department has given me the chance to encounter some very interesting artifacts. The same can be said for my work as the Archivist for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Buffalo. I never thought to contemplate what kinds of similar things exist in both places until the idea was presented to me.  In looking back at everything I have worked on over the years, I realized that  one type of object I had come across quite a few times were signs. It’s a funny thing to think about what a sign can really mean to a place, people, and/ or time in history. When I see a sign on a building, or on the side of a road, I don’t really think deeply about its significance. But when a sign is viewed outside of its original location, or out of context, it almost forces you to think about where it came from and its significance. Some of my most interesting research has been done because of signs.

One of the first signs I worked on at the museum was one made by a member of the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. For history buffs like myself, researching information about important historical periods, like WWI, is usually something to look forward to because more times than not you come out knowing so much more than you knew before you started. WWI sign

For example, “TO BERLIN”:  I knew before starting my research that it was originally hung in a town in France called Thiaucourt.  What I discovered was that the town was involved in a major battle of the war, the St. Mihiel Offensive, which was led by General John “Black Jack” Pershing in September 1918. This action during the war was particularly significant because it was the first large-scale offensive action that was taken by American forces independent of the Allies. It never ceases to amaze me when I see objects like this sign which have withstood the destructive violence of war and yet find their way to places thousands of miles away. I only wish that we knew more about the man (or men) who made that journey happen.

In a city like Buffalo, there is a lot of history to look back on and reminisce about. There have been a lot of events, neighborhoods, people, and buildings that have made the city what it is. Once in a while those things come back into the spotlight and being able to look at artifacts from the past makes for an interesting comparison to the present. One area of the city that has been in the headlines for many years is the Webster Block.
???????????????????????????????
 It was a timely thing, then, when I came across two street markers from the corner of Main and Perry Streets ???????????????????????????????during the time the sale to the Sabres was happening. These marble street signs were actually incorporated into the exterior of a building that sat at that corner in 1838. They were chiseled from the sides of the building at an unknown time and eventually donated to the History Museum in 1969. Not having known much about the Webster Block before working on these signs, I was unaware that part of it was located at this intersection and in doing my research, I was even more surprised to find that it had been built up all the way back in 1835 by a prominent figure in Buffalo history, Benjamin Rathbun. Just because of these two signs, I learned some very interesting information about the city I’ve lived in my whole life that I had never even thought to ponder.

It’s amazing what a sign can show you!

Sabine Fisher
Collections Assistant