Travel Scrapbooks of former Grosvenor Librarian

A recent donation of five travel scrapbooks that once belonged to a former Grosvenor Library staff member have been added to the many unique collections in the Grosvenor Rare Book Room.


Jane Van Arnam, later Wiseman, was the daughter of Seymour and Harriet Van Arnam who resided at 76 Highland Ave. in Buffalo. Seymour was an executive at the Pitts Company, a leading manufacturer of machinery prior to World War II, and Harriet was active in church, clubs, and charity work. Jane graduated from the Buffalo Seminary in 1920 and soon after joined her sister Anna as an assistant in the Catalog Department of the Grosvenor Reference Library, later moving to the Periodical Department and working as a librarian until 1954. Her meticulous skills as a reference librarian are evident from the 5-volume travel scrapbooks she maintained from 1925 until the late 1940’s.

Within the carefully organized volumes are photographs, post cards, letters, menus, passenger lists and pamphlets from the many trips she took throughout Europe, Canada, the U. S., South America and other exotic places.  The scrapbooks as a whole provide a glimpse into the life of a working Buffalo blueblood, as well as the world of popular travel in the early-to-mid-20th century.  Jane died in 1989 at the age of 86.


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Filed under Acquisitions, Librarianship, Post Cards, Scrapbooks, Travel

See where the magic of conservation takes place…


This Friday, October 28, 5 – 8 p.m., is the Buffalo State Art Conservation Department’s annual Open House. If you have any interest in the ways that historic–even rare–paper, bound works, ceramics, painted works, etc. are kept “alive” for future generations to love, you really should attend this open house. This is where the magic of conservation happens!

What you come away from this once-a-year event with is an appreciation for the fact that conservationists are exceptional people with great knowledge of art, art history, culture and science–yes, science!!! Students accepted into this highly competitive program come in with a lot of experience and demonstrated knowledge already and go through this intensive graduate program so that they emerge the most well-prepared conservationists for whatever they encounter in the field.

Please see for more information.

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Buffalo and UB libraries to hold wedding of the folios, merging Buffalo’s treasured Shakespeare works

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Buffalo has much to boast about these days, though most residents may not realize that two complete sets of the rare and treasured folios of William Shakespeare – the very first printings of his transformative canon of plays – are held in public trust by the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library (B&ECPL) and the University at Buffalo.

Source: Buffalo and UB libraries to hold wedding of the folios, merging Buffalo’s treasured Shakespeare works

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The Library’s Rich Archives Collection

The Rare Book Room of the B&ECPL houses among its local, national and international treasures the historical artifacts of the previous library institutions that preceded our present library system.  Thousands of paper items have been preserved through the years including documents, certificates, flyers, photographs and library reports.  Our predecessors left behind rich collections of Buffalo library history and the Rare Book Room has recently enhanced our finding aids to reflect the many papers and objects in this collection.

In this blog entry we would like to showcase some of the objects in the library archives.  Among them, printers blocks for publications produced by the Buffalo Public and Grosvenor Libraries; an old printing press, inker stand and an antique lion’s head embosser; a sketch of the Grosvenor Library building from 1941 by H. G. Durston; watercolor sketches of the murals from the same library; metal photographic plates from 1906; and the Royal typewriter from the 1940’s that belonged to our beloved first curator of Rare Books, Jane Van Arsdale.


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“Shakespeare First Folio discovered on Scottish island”

Read all about it: a BBC report “Shakespeare First Folio discovered on Scottish island” by Sean Coughlan tells of a newly discovered First Folio bound in three parts. Emma Smith of Oxford University foretold of this find when she was here on March 28. She, as this article explains, was the person who first studied and authenticated this copy. It’s a fascinating First Folio story–one that William Shakespeare himself might have enjoyed!

First Folio Mount Stuart House


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Celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare: Reflecting on the Life of the Bard


The exhibit Celebrating 400 Years of Shakespeare: Reflecting on the Life of the Bard is now open for viewing! On display are the First (1623), Second (1632), Third (1664) and Fourth (1685) Folios, along with the Poems (1640) of William Shakespeare. Historical, religious, literary and scientific works that potentially influenced Shakespeare’s writing are presented as well. Significant works include Holinshed’s Chronicles, Bibles and the Book of Common Prayer, Plutarch’s Lives, Ben Jonson’s Works, and Foxes’ Acts and Monuments along with others.



On March 28 the library was fortunate enough to host Emma Smith from Oxford University who gave an interesting and delightful talk “From the Barbican to Buffalo: Why Shakespeare’s First Folio Matters.”  Within this presentation, Emma spoke about an apprentice in the Jaggard print shop who was responsible for many errors and corrections in the First Folio. In particular the young apprentice typeset a very important stage direction toward the end of The Tragedy of King Lear. The line was supposed to read “He dies” yet it took three tries for this compositor/typesetter to get it right! In examining our First Folio after the presentation, we looked at this line with Emma and found our copy was the compositor’s second try as it reads “He dis.” It was not until the third try/state that he set the line to read correctly.


Information about more upcoming events in and around Buffalo intended to celebrate Shakespeare may be found at the Bvffalo Bard 2016 blog (

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Edward Michael’s World War I Poster Collection


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World War I posters represent some of the finest examples of graphically designed war propaganda. Thousands were produced around the world, especially between 1914 and 1918. Contemporary magazine and book illustrators, portrait artists and muralists volunteered their talents to design some of the most memorable poster art.

Color lithography was used to achieve the dramatic imagery you see here. Carefully chosen words and powerful graphic design combine in these wartime posters to deliver a range of persuasive messages for the Great War. That delicate balance between image and word in each WWI poster begs, pleads, scares and shames the intended audience to enlist, volunteer, donate, beware and/or sacrifice for the war effort.

The WWI posters on display were selected from nearly 3,000 WWI posters generously donated in 1919 by Edward Michael to the Grosvenor Library, the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library’s predecessor.

EdwardMichael1A local lawyer and realtor, Edward Michael was born in the 1850’s and died in 1951 at the age of 101. During those years, Mr. Michael contributed to the development of the University at Buffalo and Buffalo General Hospital and, thankfully, to the poster collection of the Grosvenor Library. He knew Millard Fillmore, played cards with Grover Cleveland and witnessed multiple wars in his lifetime.

Although he collected posters and literature from other wars, Michael’s World War I Poster Collection is by far the largest grouping and represents the broadest array of countries with posters from France, Great Britain, Canada, Germany, Russia and others. Many of his international posters were amassed during Mr. Michael’s 1919 overseas trip.

He later saw to it that this cherished collection became a special collection with proper storage in the Library.

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