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Historical Film Collection Digitization

Far in the stacks of University Archives is a cache of over 600 films relating to the history of the university, its programs, facilities, and student life. Because of preservation concerns, much of the collection has not been viewed in almost two decades.  This winter, Archives embarked on a pilot project to have three films digitized not only for preservation, but most importantly, to provide access to these little seen treasures.

Still from film of 1964 Spring Weekend festivities

Still from film of 1964 Spring Weekend festivities

Choosing which films to digitize was a challenging process, complicated by the thin documentation available for most of the films.  The majority have brief label titles on the film cans, such as “Perspectives,” “Untitled,” or even “Camp film, misc. outtakes, and junk”!  Questionable label titles, along with the degradation expected of 50+ year old magnetic film, can make the digitization process a matter of faith.  About half of the films have no labeled date, but of those that do, the earliest is from the 1930s and titled “Campus Scenes.”  This film, along with one recording the events of the 1964 Moving Up Day/Spring Weekend activities, and a circa 1964 film of the reactor on South Campus (recently decommissioned) were digitized.  All our black and white, silent, 16 mm films.

Although just shy of two and half minutes, “Scenes of Main Street campus and downtown buildings” offers a glimpse of Hayes Hall and its surrounds, students, and the Medical School building at Washington and High streets.  Samuel Capen himself even makes an appearance.  “1964 Spring Weekend (Moving Up Day)” is the longest film at 8 minutes.  It includes the Moving Up Day fashion Show, voting for Spring Weekend Queen (and winner, Mary Lou Thompson), float construction and parade (including a fire breathing dragon, Don Quixote, and the Garden of Eden), and a concert featuring the Serendipity Singers.  For the curious, the third film shows interior views of the Western New York Nuclear Research Center just a few years after it began operating.

Digitizing film for use, accessibility, and preservation is an expensive undertaking, and University Archives welcomes alumni and community support in partnering in this worthy effort to save, protect, and share university history.  Donations can be made online and are integral in our ability to continue and expand this project.

Digitized films are part of the University Libraries Digital Collections and can be viewed here:


From the Stacks: 1915 Map of the City of Buffalo

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Map of the City of Buffalo, 1915

Map of the City of Buffalo, 1915

by Joseph Patton, DLIS graduate student

Today cruise ships have become synonymous with the Caribbean and other tropical locales, but during the 19th and early 20th centuries Great Lakes passenger steamers cruised the waves delivering tourists to cities like Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Toronto, and even Buffalo.  The Great Lakes were a major source of tourism and travel during this period and the cities surrounding the lakes prospered because of it.  Some ferry lines still remain, but the heyday period has passed.  However, evidence of this era can still be found in many of the cities and in the ephemera produced as a result.

Fenton Parke was a graduate of the University who became a much respected member of the Buffalo and Western New York Community.  The Fenton Parke papers, held by the University Archives here at the University at Buffalo, contain documents and correspondence as well as many items collected by Parke during his life.  One such item found within this collection is a map of the City of Buffalo from 1915.

Created by Buffalo Electrotype Works, a smaller company in the city, this map was provided to passengers aboard steamers visiting Buffalo.  In addition to providing a wonderful snapshot of the city in 1915, the item itself is a fabulous example of the style and design utilized by printers and engravers during the era.  The map specifically emphasizes locations like parks for tourists to visit as well the streetcar and rail lines should they be needed.  Interestingly enough, the map also identifies the individual tax districts of the city at that time.  Of particular note though is shaded area located around D-11 in the map grid which reads Site for the University of Buffalo.  Known today as the University’s South Campus, this space was still yet to be utilized in 1915 and was home instead to the Erie County Almshouse.

This is the first post in a new blog series. “From the Stacks” highlights unique, little-known documents and artifacts uncovered by the staff and student assistants who work with the rich historical collections of the University Archives.



Holiday Tips from Hollywood Starlets

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Lucille Ball, Edwards Beauty Salons brochure, 1939.

Lucille Ball, Edwards Beauty Salons brochure, 1939.

Tucked in a folder in the Thomas B. Lockwood papers is this 1939 advertising brochure for Edwards Beauty Salons.  Featuring many of the most famous Hollywood actresses of the era, including Claudette Colbert, Greer Garson, and Norma Shearer, the brochure gives advice on makeup and “hairdress” for the holiday season.

Source: Thomas B. Lockwood papers, MS 11, 3.8, University Archives.

Change in Hours on December 4th

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To accommodate event scheduling, University Archives will close at 3:00 on Thursday, December 4.  We apologize for any inconvenience.
Please contact if you have any questions or concerns.
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Veterans and Armed Forces Digital Collection Now Online

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Air_Force_ROTC_and_Angel_FlightWe are pleased to announce a new digital collection, Veterans and the Armed Forces. This collection was curated by Sarah Pinard and made possible due to the efforts of Scott Hollander, Stacy Person, and graduate student Joseph Patton. The Office of Veterans Services generously provided access to recent photographs of the University at Buffalo’s annual Veterans Day Celebration.


Veterans and the Armed Force Digital Collection:

This collection features select materials from the University Archives relating to UB, student veterans, the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, and efforts undertaken by the University in response to wars and conflicts of the 20th and 21st centuries. Documentation includes photographs, manuscripts, posters and brochures chosen from various collections donated to the Archives by members of the Western New York and campus community, faculty, academic departments and the Office of the President.