Preparing for the Genealogy Visit to Buffalo
I decided to draft this page when I went looking for something on the Internet about this very topic and couldn't find anything! (I still think I remember seeing something somewhere, but like Zona's Pluto Bader gravesite, it remains elusive...) Local Buffalonian George Richmond helped get me started. Others on NYERIE-L have pitched in additional suggestions. Please contact me if you have even more suggestions!
Last Updated: 6 March 2005
Before your arrival...
- Prepare a "research to-do" list that prioritizes your research objectives. What kinds of records do you need for whom? Consider organizing them by where you need to go to get them, so that when you visit a particular place, you'll have a prepared list of what you need from there.
- Cynthia Van Ness runs a very good web site at www.buffaloresearch.com; see especially www.buffaloresearch.com/roots.html where you'll find almost everything (okay, everything) there is to know about Buffalo genealogy. And if you expect to be researching vital records, review what she's compiled at www.buffaloresearch.com/vital.html.
- Subscribe and post a message to the excellent mailing list NYERIE-L, letting people know you're coming, what you're working on, and seeking specific suggestions. (Heck, maybe someone would also like to meet for coffee.)
- If you don't have a place to stay, someone on NYERIE-L might have a suggestion, or check out the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau.
- Similarly, if you want to make sure to schedule some FUN, seek suggestions on NYERIE-L and/or check out the Schedule of Architecture & History Talks & Tours .
Once You're in Buffalo... First the Libraries & Societies...
- The first place to start is the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, Grosvenor Room,
Lafayette Square, Buffalo 14203;
716-858-7114. In addition, the Western New York Genealogical Society is housed at the public library and often Society members are in attendance who can provide assistance.
Here are a few things that you will find there:
- US & NY Census for Erie County and some others;
- NY state vital records on microfiche;
- church records for many denominations, including the recently filmed St. Stephens German Evangelical Church Records (not available through the LDS);
- Erie County births and marriages on microfilm (1877-1935; the marriages are indexed);
- Buffalo City Directories 1828-present;
- local history books, other historical materials;
- many genealogical journals from around the country; published genealogies;
- huge map collection including some very old ones;
- scrapbooks with biographical newspaper clippings (indexed);
- other topically-organized scrapbooks;
- Buffalo newspapers;
- voter registration lists;
- reference books;
- many computers with Internet connections, and (FREE!) access to Ancestry.com.
- experienced and knowledgeable staff who can offer suggestions and guidance.
- Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society, 25 Nottingham Court, Buffalo 14216;
phone: 716-873-9612; hours: Wed-Fri, 10am-5pm; Sat, noon-5pm. Everything there is to
know about Buffalo and Erie County history: City Directories; Social and Club Registers; other
books, clipping files; business histories; various indices; old newspapers on microfilm; maps.
Helpful librarians, who will answer some phone or mail queries.
Then the Government offices...
(remember, review Cynthia's Vital Records Page for greater detail )
- Erie County Clerk's office contains land records, divorce records, naturalizations (pre 1930); 92 Franklin St., Buffalo, NY 14202; 716-858-8865
- County Court Building Basement [address???] Older immigration & naturalization info is on index cards and in ledgers. You can do your own lookups, just ask someone to direct you to the basement.
- The County's Surrogate's court has wills and probate petitions; same address as above. 716-854-7867.
- Buffalo City Hall, Niagara Square, Buffalo NY 14202
- Vital Stats office has... vital stats. Room 1310, 716-851-5847; 716-851-5848
- Marriage Bureau has marriage records. Rm 1301, Buffalo, NY 14202; 716-851-5444.
- US District Court has naturalizations; 68 Court St., Room 304, Buffalo, NY 14202; 716-551-4211.
- Inactive Records Center, 85 River Rock Drive, Suite 301; Buffalo, NY 14207 Phone: (716) 874-6401 or (716) 570-8721. Hours: MON. - FRI. 9:00 AM TO 4:00 PM.
- Pine Hill Cemetery Group
800 Pine Ridge Road, Cheektowaga 14225 (In Mount Calvary Cemetery)
716-892-6660. Records from five cemeteries in the Pine Hill area - United German & French, Mount Calvary, Ridge Lawn, Buffalo, Pine Lawn. Plot books, some card indices, maps to help you find plots. Helpful staff. The first two are Roman Catholic, the others non-sectarian.
- Forest Lawn Cemetery
1411 Delaware Ave, Buffalo 14209; 716-885-1600. Computerized index of all burials; will provide copy of lot layout and maps to help you find plots. Helpful staff. Non-sectarian. Final resting place of the WASPs. Lots of great statuary.
- Holy Cross Cemetery
2900 South Park Avenue, Lackawanna, NY 14218 716-823-1197
Nice staff. Roman Catholic, especially Irish.
- St. Stanislaus Cemetery
Pine Ridge Road, Cheektowaga, NY 14225 716-892-9135
Roman Catholic, especially Polish. Helpful staff.
- Concordia Cemetery
438 Walden Avenue (at Sycamore).
One of the oldest cemeteries in Buffalo, created in 1858 by and for German immigrants and used by three different churches: St. Peters German Evangelical, St. Stephens, and Trinity Lutheran. It's fallen on hard times in recent years, and has no dedicated staff presence (but a passionately dedicated group of volunteers). Post to NYERIE-L that you'd like to visit and perhaps one of these volunteers will accompany you.
- The cemetery you're looking for isn't on this list? Visit Cynthia.
I've been reminded to point out that Buffalo/Erie Co., has experienced major budget cuts; the Erie Co. workforce has lost 2,100 jobs, the parks are closed, and library hours have been reduced. So please be kind to the government employees who remain; they're probably stretched thin.
And, as we all will one day, end up at the Cemeteries...
(these are just some of the majors...)