About Us

Greetings from Buffalo

Greetings from Buffalo, N.Y. Undated postcard, ca. 1935. Collection of the webmaster.

Helping others isn’t a chore; it is one of the greatest gifts there is. 

–Liya Kebede

BuffaloResearch.com is really just one person, me. In my day job, I’m a librarian, but this site is an entirely independent, volunteer, on-my-own-time, on-my-own-dime hobby. All opinions, errors, omissions, and bad takes are my own.

My geographic scope is primarily the City of Buffalo and secondarily the County of Erie. I opinionate every now and then at the blog side of the site.

BuffaloResearch.com started out as Roots at Buffalo Free-Net in December 1993 and has been continuously online ever since. Roots was either the first or one of the first genealogy websites in the world. The other contender is Rootsweb, also founded in 1993. I believe that makes it Buffalo’s oldest surviving website of any kind.

Back then, if you wanted to start what we now call a website, you had to mail in a paper request. Here’s the original application form for a Special Interest Group (SIG) called Roots, submitted by founder Richard Prem, and the date Jim Gerland approved it: Dec. 28, 1993. Free-Net itself was only two months old at the time.

Roots application form, 1993
First page of two-page application to Buffalo Freenet to establish Roots, 1993

Back then, I didn’t have a graphical browser or the ability to save screenshots or edit image files. I had to print out the home page to save a copy of it.

Printout of original Roots homepage
Original homepage of Roots at Buffalo Freenet

At the invitation of Richard Prem, I came on board in 1996 and took over Roots. After one HTML class, I began writing code by hand and have been been a self-taught webmaster ever since, which is probably obvious, given the unsophisticated look and feel of this site.

Screenshot of the first iteration of this website
Roots as it appeared in October 1996, courtesy of the Wayback Machine.
The URL and email address are, of course, defunct.

On October 14, 2001, I bought the BuffaloResearch.com domain name, moved all of the Roots content, and built it into what you see today. Buffalo Free-Net closed down some time after 2007.

It was an honor to be recognized by Buffalo historian Mark Goldman in the appendix of City on the Edge (p. 408, 2007).

If you’d like to meet other Buffalo history buffs, you’ll find us at the BuffaloHistory page at Groups.io. Gluttons for punishment might enjoy this slideshow I did about this site for a webinar.


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