A few notes on the sources used in creating this site are appropriate. A good deal of contemporary information remains available, but it is not centralized. Unfortunately, the records of the Buffalo Board of Parks Commissioners have been lost, likely in the course of many moves affecting the city departments which replaced it.
The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy has recently established a formal parks archives. In addition to the digital copies of park plans (see Olmsted Plans, below), they have a number of physical plans and drawings, photographs, and other reference materials for Buffalo’s Olmsted parks. The archives are being cataloged and preserved, and are housed in a climate-controlled environment supervised by a full time professional archivist. The Conservancy is actively seeking to expand its holdings and working to make them better accessible for reference and research.
Buffalo Board of Park Commissioners:
The original files of the Buffalo Board of Parks Commissioners have apparently been lost after their functions were transferred to the Buffalo city departments which succeeded them. what does survive are a series of Annual Reports, published in book format, a special report (also in book format) on the proposal to create a new South Park, and, for a few years around 1900, meeting minutes in print form.
The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library and the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society both have complete sets of the published Annual Reports of the Buffalo Board of Parks Commissioners.
The Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society maintains a set of the few years of printed Minutes of the Buffalo Board of Parks Commissioners.
Buffalo newspapers, notably the Buffalo Courier and the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, frequently published either full minutes of the Buffalo Board of Parks Commissioners meetings, or provided synopses of them. The author has copied and transcribed many of these accounts for his personal collection.
The City of Buffalo in 2004 transferred to Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society the original Olmsted plans for the city parks then in its possession. Some of the plans and drawings include marginalia and annotations documenting alterations to the plans, both contemporary to their construction and subsequent to later modifications. Included are plans for a number of park structures, as well. In 2012, utilizing a very generous philanthropic grant, a joint project of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society have made digital reproductions of the plans, copies of which are in the possession of each organization.
The Frederick Law Olmsted Historic Site at Brookline, Massachusetts, operated by the National Park Service, has a large collection of original prints of Olmsted designs for the Buffalo Parks.
The best extant collection of Buffalo newspapers is that of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library.
The Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, the Butler Library of the State University of New York College at Buffalo and the Lockwood Library of State University of New York at Buffalo also have sizable microfilm collections of Buffalo newspapers, though dwarfed by the BECPL collections. However, the BECPL collections are have seen much more use through the years and thus show some amount of wear and tear. I have found that the Historical Society’s and Buffalo State’s film copies are often in better condition than those of Buffalo and Erie County Public Library.
One sad note: unfortunately, when the Buffalo newspaper holdings were filmed and the original bound volumes were deaccessioned no steps were taken to separate and preserve the illustrated rotograveur sections. Those supplemental sections were published weekly in the late 19th and early 20th century by several Buffalo newspapers. They were printed on considerably higher quality paper than the high acid newsprint of the general newspapers. The often rich detail of the photographs printed in these supplements was largely lost during the microfilming process, which was optimized for capturing black and white text. On microfilm, the illustrations are nearly always dark and muddy, greatly reducing their value for the researcher.
The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library has a complete run of Garden and Forest. For those who cannot visit the library in person, a joint project of the Library of Congress’ Preservation Reformatting Division, the University of Michigan Making of America project and the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard university has made the complete run of Garden and Forest available on the internet for viewing and search: http://www.loc.gov/preserv/prd/gardfor/.
The Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society possesses the largest collection of photographs relating to the Buffalo parks and the individuals who played key roles in their design and construction. Their Nagle collection is one significant body of material in their collections, and the parks are very well represented.
The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library possesses a collection of illustrated annual photo-graveur retrospective books for the period around 1900.
The Library of Congress has photographic collections online which provide illustration of the Buffalo parks, notably the Detroit Publishing Company Collection (http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/coll/202_detr.html).
Picture postcards were a craze in the 1906-1917 period and after. They offer a rich amount of photographic documentation of their era, including the parks of Buffalo. Public collections of antique postcards are very limited; both the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library and the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society possess some, but in very limited quantities and with little documentation. The postcards which illustrate this site are primarily from the personal collection of the author.
Stereo photographs, a drawing room staple of refined Victorian homes, provide even more photographic documentation of the time, and the Olmsted parks of Buffalo are very well represented. Again, the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library and the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society possess quantities of stereoviews, although they are not particularly well indexed nor documented. The stereoview illustrations on this site are primarily from the author’s personal collection.
The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy archives include a large number of photographic resources of all of these types.
The Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society has in its collection broadsides of three of William McMillan’s lectures. It also possesses surveyor’s field notebooks for The Park (Delaware Park).
The great majority of the historic images and plans appearing on this site were scanned and processed by the author using one or more software applications and they are believed to be in the public domain. The contemporary photographs appearing on this website, unless otherwise cited, are the copyrighted works of this author.
– Stanton M. Broderick, author, Olmsted In Buffalo