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, so 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.
Below 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 birth family relationships. 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!
No Records Found means that we were unable to identify any public repositories with surviving records of the children served by this institution. These records may have been discarded or they may be in the hands of an organization with private archives. Sometimes by-laws, constitutions, minutes, and annual reports are the only records that survive.
The era of residential orphan homes ended around World War II, to be replaced by the foster care system.
- Adoption and Orphanage Resources for Genealogists & Historians: A guide from the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library
- Orphan Home Records: A guide from The Buffalo History Museum
- Erie County Guardianship Records, ca. 1810-1900, courtesy of FamilySearch.org
- Adoptions Recorded in Erie County Hall, 1874-1900, not digitized or online. Link shows you the owning libraries.
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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