Local History

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Local History in the Grosvenor Room

Buffalo Collection: Contains an estimated 4,000 volumes about people, places, and things in Buffalo and Erie County. The scrapbook collection consists of about 400 scrapbooks filled with newspaper articles. They were compiled between 1930 and 1975 but many volumes have articles that were published before 1930.

Local History Files: The following were created in-house. Most are no longer being expanded.

Name of Card File

Topics Covered

Size and Scope

Local History File

Essentially a newspaper index covering Buffalo people, places, things, and history. Our most comprehensive resource for Buffalo research.

About 300,000 citations on 100,000 cards. Most articles listed date from c.1920 to 1982.

"Buffalo" File

A file of fast facts about Buffalo, such as our firsts, oldest this, largest that.

About 6,000 cards. Most citations date from c.1920-1960.

Famous Visitors File

An index to Buffalo's cultural life, with citations for plays, concerts, lectures, and performers.

About 15,000 cards. Most citations date from c.1870-1960.

Great Lakes File

An index to articles about the geology, industry, ports, vessels, shipwrecks, and history of the Great Lakes.

About 5,000 cards from the late 1800s to the 1930s, not including individuals (such as captains or sailors) or newspaper articles.

Beer Industry in Buffalo

A file of known brewers and distributors, with addresses and dates and a bibliography.

About 300 cards.

Pan-American Exposition Index

An index to the library's Pan-American scrapbooks, which contain articles about exhibits, organizers, events, famous visitors, etc.

About 3,000 cards citing local newspaper articles mainly from 1901.

Prominent Black Buffalonians File

A biographical file about local African-Americans of the past and present.

About 1000 cards created in the 1980s.

Buffalo Fires

A chronological file listing major local fires in houses, hotels, factories, and other buildings

About 500 cards from 1850-1977

Coat of Arms Index

A file arranged by surname with citations for illustrations and/or descriptions of family crests

About 6,000 cards, some with illustrations attached.

Buffalo Maps & Atlases: 

Our collection includes several atlases of Buffalo and the towns of Erie County (circa 1866-1950s), including some that identify landowners, individual homes, and businesses.  Usually, atlases that show such detail were published once per decade.

For architectural researchers, Sanborn maps, also called fire insurance atlases, give the most detail, identifying residences and businesses. Our Sanborn volumes cover various sections of Buffalo and some surrounding towns, 1881-1986.  Other Sanborn maps for Buffalo and many other towns and cities in NY are available (in black & white) through the online database “Sanborn Maps of New York 1867-1970.”

See our “Buffalo Maps and Atlases” guide for more information on local atlases and Sanborn maps:

Also available:

•    Individual sheet maps of Buffalo, Erie County, and Western New York illustrating various geographical, social, political, and economic boundaries or issues.
•    Individual sheet maps of specific regions of Buffalo, i.e., the waterfront.
•    Ward maps for use in census research.
•    Election maps showing current council districts, county legislative districts, senate, assembly, and congressional districts.

Many of our maps are included in the online catalog, and can be found by keyword searching a location name along with the word “map.” Most maps are stored in the Central Library’s Closed Stacks and may be viewed by placing a request in the Grosvenor Room.

Further information on our general Map Collection can be found here