Buffalo Deaths

Most of these links are for necrologies, meaning “lists of the dead.” Necrologies offer names and death dates but not burial places or next of kin. But once you have a date of death, you can go to Buffalo newspapers and search for a death notice or obituary that is more informative.

Having said that, please understand that there is no law requiring that deaths be reported in newspapers. It is entirely voluntary on the part of the family. Death notices, those 2” wide rectangles, are a fee-based service and can be cost-prohibitive for low-income families. Obituaries, on the other hand, are narrative articles written at no charge by reporters when someone’s passing is considered newsworthy.

In the 19th century, it was common for the deaths of women, children, and the poor to go unreported.

Here is an excellent tutorial on the evolution of death records in New York State and where to find then.

Date RangeSourceDescription
1795-1952New York Deaths & BurialsHas about 7,500 names from Erie County. Gives last name, first name, place and date of death, and sometimes names of parents or children. 
19th centuryEarly Settlers of New York StateThis genealogy journal was published in Buffalo and often featured local birth, marriage, and death records. 
1800-1929Erie County Estate PapersBrowsable wills & probate records, courtesy of FamilySearch.org
Up to 1855Revolutionary War Veterans in Western NYAbout 150 names with birth & death dates and burial places, when known
1811-1833The Why of this BookMarriages and deaths which occurred in Buffalo & surrounding area as reported in local newspapers. Courtesy of The Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.
1812-1986Obituary Index at The Buffalo History MuseumCard file with 99,000 names, mostly prominent citizens. Microfilmed in 1986, then the films were digitized by FamilySearch. Staff continued typing cards 1987-2001 but those names are not online. Partly published in book form.
1832, 1849, 1854Cholera DeathsNames are listed in rough order by date of death. Courtesy of The Buffalo History Museum.
1833-1883Death Record of Old Buffalo SettlersOver 900 names and death dates drawn from a handwritten manuscript kept by Thomas Farnham (1809-1883). Courtesy of The Buffalo History Museum.
1852-1944Buffalo Death IndexImages of the entire Buffalo, NY death index, courtesy of Buffalo City Hall. Right margins, which show death dates, are sometimes cut off.
1854Cholera DeathsDr. James Newman kept a ledger of deaths during the 1854 Buffalo cholera epidemic. There are about 1000 names. Courtesy of The Buffalo History Museum.
1870s to 1950An Index to Births, Marriages and Deaths Found in Select Buffalo & Erie County PublicationsAn index of several publications that included births, marriages, or deaths. Courtesy of The Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.
1872-presentIndex of Selected Newspaper ObituariesAbout 140,000 names. Gives last name, first name, and date of death.
1878-1898Erie County Medical Examiner RecordsOn microfilm, not digitized. Gives last name, first name, date of death. Only at The Buffalo History Museum. Book your library appointment.
1880-1956New York State Death Index at Archive.orgStatewide collection of names. Buffalo & Erie County coverage began in 1914.
1880-1956New York State Death Index at FamilySearchStatewide collection of names. Buffalo & Erie County coverage began in 1914. You will need to register for a free FamilySearch account.
1882-1892A Necrology Excerpted and Organized From  Buffalo City DirectoriesLast name, first name, age, and date of death for everyone over age 16 who died in the City of Buffalo in a ten-year period. Courtesy of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.
1883-1899Undertaker RecordsThe Buffalo History Museum has records from only two Buffalo funeral directors, Henry Farwell and Theophilus Speyser. This is an A-Z list of everyone in their ledgers, over 3,100 names.
1886-1920Polak Y Ameryce Death NoticesPolish names. Use the drop-down menu to access this index.
Late 19th c. to 1982, most are 1930-1982Local History FileNot digitized or online. Mostly obituaries for prominent citizens; some death notices. Only in the Grosvenor Room at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.
20th century-?PGSNYS Funeral CardsCourtesy of the Polish Genealogical Society. Use the drop-down menu to access this index.
1902-1936Buffalo HomicidesCompiled by Vance McLaughlin in 2013.
1911-1957Dziennik Death Notice IndexDziennik was the Polish-language newspaper in Buffalo. Ideal for those with Polish ancestors. Free to search; fee for full text.
1914-1918History of Buffalo and Erie County, 1914-1919See pages 497-510 for a list of men from Buffalo & Erie County who lost their lives serving in WWI.
1918-1922Marriages & Deaths as reported in the Pierce-Arrow Newsletter, 1918-1922An index from the Pierce-Arrow company newsletter. Courtesy of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.
1940-1945The Bellringer: A Selected IndexBirths, marriages & deaths and other events at the Bell Aircraft factory. Courtesy of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.
1943-1944The Curtiss-Wright-erMarriages, deaths and other events at the Curtiss-Wright factory. Courtesy of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.
Late 20th century to 2007Buffalo African-American Funeral & Obituary CollectionHas downloadable indexes of the names. Courtesy of Buffalo State College.
1957-ca.1970New York State Death IndexCourtesy of the NY State Dept. of Health. Privacy restrictions end after 50 years.
1957-1963New York State Death IndexIndex to deaths in NY state, excluding New York City. You will need to register for a free FamilySearch account.
1959-1973Vietnam War Casualties from Western NYNames of 548 men & one woman who lost their lives serving in the Vietnam War. Courtesy of Patrick Kavanagh & The Buffalo History Museum.
Ca. 1962 to presentSocial Security Death IndexDates of death for over 90 million Americans from all 50 states.
1970s to present?African-American Obituaries from Western NYCompiled by the Afro-American Historical Association of the Niagara Frontier
1983-1996Western New York IndexA newspaper index originally printed in book form. Each volume covers one year and has a separate Personal Names section in the back. That is where you will find obituary citations.
Sept. 11, 1997 to presentBuffalo NewsDeath notices only.