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Genealogy & Local History in Buffalo, NY
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These are our favorite online research tools and we use them nonstop.
Our Favorite Online Research Tools
Site & Link
Notes
WorldCat
WorldCat is Google for the offline world.  The internet, as a viable commercial medium, is about 15 years old.  Even if there were no copyright laws, a decade is not sufficient to scan a thousand years of paper-based books, manuscripts, maps, etc., in the world's libraries and museums.  So how do you figure out what exists when it isn't digitized and optimized for search engines?  WorldCat to the rescue.  The database lists 1 billion items in 10,000 libraries.
Google Books
Google Books is scanning the shelves of participating libraries.  If the copyright is expired, you'll get the full text of the book.  Otherwise, you get snippets or short excerpts.  You can search on a name or place or phrase and it shows books that contain your search string.
Internet Archive
Internet Archive is the nonprofit alternative to Google Books.  They're also scanning books in library collections.  Once you open a book, you can search inside it.  Another nice feature is that all books at Internet Archive are full-text and you can select a display that turns pages just like you would with a book in hand.
Oaister
So how do you find out what IS being digitized and scanned online in libraries and repositories around the world if Google and Archive.org haven't done it?  Oaister is a search engine devoted to digital projects, including pictures, text, video, and more.  It searches thousands of online collections.
newspaper
NY State Newspaper Project

The New York State Newspaper Project offers a reliable way to figure out which local newspapers survive and who owns them.  Pre-computer newspapers are still found mostly on microfilm.  Click on the county where the newspaper was published to see libraries who own it.  Newspaper microfilms can be borrowed through interlibrary loan, a service available at your local public library.
New York State Library New York State Library Digital Collections offer 18th and 19th century historical materials from many subject areas, including the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, Native American materials, New York State laws and natural history. While books make up the core collection, Digital Collections also include primary source materials such as letters, diaries and rare manuscripts as well as historic photographs, illustrations, maps, broadsides, drawings and music scores.
New York Times
The New York Times has digitized all of its issues back to the day one (1851) and those archives are searchable online.  Most articles are free but obituaries and celebrity articles usually cost a few dollars.  We love the NYT because it used to give a lot of coverage to Buffalo and we have no comparable online archives of Buffalo newspapers.  Be sure to change the drop-down menu to 1851-1980.
FultonHistory.com
FultonHistory has lots of searchable, scanned newspapers from upstate & western New York, but it also has flaws: a lot of uncorrected OCR and no ability to browse through an issue of a newspaper.  Plus, if the page you open lacks a masthead or has an illegible masthead, you have no way of knowing the date it was published.
Art Inventories
The Art Inventories Catalog offers one searchable database of the paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculptures, and other artworks in America's museums. 
National Archives
Online access to records from a small selection of historic databases created by the federal government and preserved permanently in the National Archives & Records Administration, plus searchable catalogs of the records that are not digitized.
addall.com AddAll is one-stop searching for multiple, reputable used/rare/out-of-print booksellers. Find that old book without having to search a dozen or more online dealers.


Ten Best Local History and Genealogy Websites
Site & Link Notes

Buffalo Architecture and History

Buffalo Architecture and History
An encyclopedic site of buildings, people, and events
Buffalo History Works Buffalo History Works
Detailed, well-illustrated essays on events in Buffalo history
The Buffalonian The Buffalonian
We are a NOT-COM dedicated to the dissemination of historical information. We are a nonprofit organization creating an online community & archive.

Buffalo Neighborhood Map City of Buffalo Neighborhoods Map
The "City of Good Neighbors" consists of thirty-two neighborhoods varying in size, function, and historic significance. These current neighborhoods are described by location within the city, community associations, and cultural and ethnic history.
Erie County Genweb Erie County GenWeb
A site for all things genealogical for Erie County
Erie County Cemeteries Erie County New York Cemeteries
Lots of cemetery records online here
Erie County Searchable Town Data Erie County Searchable Town Data
Various genealogical sources sorted by town

Linkpendium Erie County

Linkpendium Erie County
The defninitive directory of genealogy and history links
WNYlegacy.org

Western New York Legacy
Provides online access to materials that document the rich heritage of the Western New York region.  Many types of materials are here, including manuscripts, photographs, maps, drawings, books, artifacts, and audio files, from multiple cultural institutions.

Updated 7 March 2011
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