(This is a guest post by Rhonda Konig, Genealogy Specialist at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.)
On October 6th, an evening of fellowship and discovery was hosted by the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library (BECPL) and the Western New York Genealogical Society (WNYGS). A “Genealogy Lock-In” was organized in support of the Western New York Genealogy Conference: Finding Home & Forging the Future. The all-day WNYGS conference featured award-winning genealogists such as D. Joshua Taylor, a host of PBS’s Genealogy Roadshow and president of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, and Blaine Bettinger, author of The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy and Genetic Genealogy in Practice. The conference was held at the Embassy Suites in Downtown Buffalo.
The Lock-In offered genealogists from Wisconsin, Kansas, California, and other faraway places an opportunity for after-hours research in the Grosvenor Room. The Grosvenor Room is the Library’s Special Collections Department and repository of its genealogy, local history, maps, music scores, and rare book materials.
The night began with an overview of the Library’s genealogy collection, presented by Genealogy Librarian, Rhonda Konig. “Must See” resources such as WNY church records, vital records, the WNYGS library (housed in the Grosvenor Room), and Erie County Poorhouse records were featured. (Keep watching the Library’s Digital Collections webpage for the Poorhouse records; they are coming soon and they are fascinating.)
Personalized assistance was provided by BECPL genealogy specialists and WNYGS volunteers throughout the night. Volunteers included WNYGS President and Augspurger Award winner, Jennifer Liber Raines; WNYGS board member and professional genealogist, Nancy Koester; and Niagara Falls Historian, Elaine Timm.
Participants immersed themselves in the Library’s resources, completed checklists, and shared stories of families or facts found. Most stayed until the event ended, 10:00 p.m.
By all accounts, the Lock-In was a success. Our visitors were happy to have library access that worked with their tight travel schedules, and staff and volunteers enjoyed sharing their expertise and showcasing Western New York.