Finding Buffalo Orphanage Records

Illustration of St. John’s Protectory and St. Joseph’s Asylum, better known today as Father Baker’s, from the F.W. Beers Atlas of Erie County, 1880, courtesy of the New York Public Library. At the time, Lackawanna, NY had not yet been established as a city and this institution was in West Seneca.


Cholera and other epidemics, maternal mortality, military service, dangerous factory conditions, fires and floods, diseases that are curable today: there are many reasons why children lost one or both parents in 19th century Buffalo.

In response, men, women, and religious congregations and orders established asylums to house and care for orphaned infants and children.

Here is what we’ve been able to find about orphanages that existed in Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y and their records. We focused on institutions that were authorized to place children in new families with new identities. We omitted residential facilities who served children but preserved their family relationships.

In most cases, the era of residential orphan homes ended around World War II, to be replaced by the foster care system.

This Google Doc shows what we know about orphan homes and their records. Did we omit one? Are there records that we missed? Names or nicknames that these institutions were also known as? Other errors? Please let us know!


Related links:

Published by Cynthia Van Ness

Librarian, author, webmaster. BuffaloResearch.com is an on-my-own-time project, reflecting my own views and idiosyncracies.

One thought on “Finding Buffalo Orphanage Records

  1. Miscellaneous records, County Clerk, Erie County NY has records of adoptions – 1 example vol 12, 1898-1907 page 192 adoption of Margaret Davis FHL micro # 825,677 image 126 of 696 online access

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