Local History Collections

The Western New York, Buffalo Photograph and Niagara Falls guide book collections in the Grosvenor Rare Book Room consist of approximately 2,200 volumes.  There are a wide variety of resources ranging from local guide books and histories to anniversary pamphlets, prints and maps.

Among the holdings are a 5-volume set compiled by George Nathan Newman in 1931 called The Newman Collection of Photographs of Vanished and Vanishing Buffalo.  Nearly 200 photos from the collection spanning approximately 1810-1930 can be viewed online at http://www.nyheritage.org/collections/george-nathan-newman-collection-photographs-vanishing-buffalo.  Also at this same site are close to 20 glass plate (lantern) slides of Buffalo circa 1890-1910 featuring images of cityscapes, street views, events, and architecture.  There are even some letters online from the War of 1812 written during and recalling afterwards the regional circumstances of the war; these were originally part of the collection of the Young Men’s Association, one of the predecessors of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.

The Grosvenor Rare Book Room collection also has early issues (pre-1851) of local newspapers such as the Buffalo Patriot, Western Star, Buffalo Daily Republican and Buffalo Daily Star.  In addition, there is an original contract book of the Holland Land Company from 1803-1805 and a 10-volume set of Meteorological Observations at Buffalo primarily collected by librarian William Ives for the years 1811-1832, 1851-1854 and 1858-1903.  Other noteworthy items include Seth Grosvenor’s account book from July 1847-1857 and early Buffalo land records circa 1884 from the Wilson & Smith law firm.

Lafayette Square prior to 1920, looking west from Washington Street. Photo from The Newman Collection of Photographs of Vanished and Vanishing Buffalo.

Ledger book of early Buffalo land records from the law firm of Charles R. Wilson & Philip S. Smith ca. 1884. Manuscript entries in black and red ink, including maps, record legal proceedings concerning real estate in Buffalo, NY in which the Wilson & Smith law firm was involved.

Masthead for an early newspaper originally called the Buffalo Republican and first printed in March 1828. The Buffalo Republican was the first Democratic paper published in the county. Included in the Grosvenor Rare Book Room collection are selected issues from February 1839 to January 1842.

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