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A View From the Reference Desk

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UB Reference Librarian Don Hartman

Student publications play an informational and entertaining role in the life of a university, and digitized issues of old school newspapers and yearbooks have proven very useful in searching for answers to library reference questions. Two University Libraries’ digital collections, University at Buffalo Student Newspapers, 1921-1950 and the Spectrum, the University at Buffalo’s Student Newspaper (currently covering the period 1950-1962), reflect the cultural, political and sociological aspects of the university and American society in a bygone era, and are a valuable source of information for historians and other researchers.

UB librarians have used our digital student newspaper collections in recent months to answer several reference queries. Case in point: a former UB student working on a memoir was searching for the date that Buffalo’s former Tinney Cadillac car dealership had constructed a fallout shelter display in its showroom (apparently, the shelter also had a beautiful blonde woman living in it for a few weeks!).

The UB alumna thought that the Tinney display had occurred sometime between 1958 and 1963, but she was unsure of the date; she had contacted both the New York Public Library and the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, but neither could answer her question, and the UB Libraries were her last hope.

A quick keyword search of the Libraries’ digital newspaper collections, using the word “shelter” and the phrase “Tinney Cadillac,” came up with an article from the UB Spectrum (November 10, 1961) that not only answered her question, but also included a brief commentary on the sexist nature of the display. To view the Spectrum, 1950-1962, and other digital collections of UB student publications visit: digital.lib.buffalo.edu

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