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University at Buffalo Libraries

United States History

Researching the History of Technology in Western New York

Nancy Schiller, Engineering Librarian, 228 Capen Hall, 645-1338,

Charles D’Aniello, Subject Librarian for History, Philosophy, & Political Science, 321 Lockwood Library, 645-7745,



Overview Resources, which are compiled by experts, will help you to understand the essential points of a topic.  You can also use them to find out about people, events, etc.   They will be more useful for some topics than others, but they can always help you place “things” in context.  You may find yourself going back to them throughout your work. 

American National Biography (the major biographical source for notable deceased Americans) 

Gale Virtual Reference Library (hundreds of topical encyclopedias with entries by experts) 

International Directory of Company Histories (a great place to find a brief history of a company)

(use the index in volume 118)

Lockwood Reference

HD 2721.I58

As you work, you may become interested in numbers and may find this compilation useful:

Historical Statistics of the United States                   


Go to the University Libraries main web site at: From here you can connect to many of the resources listed in this guide using just a few links: 

  1.     Type in your keywords in the search box in the middle of the page to begin searching the BISON Catalog to find books including digital (electronic) books and other materials. 
  2.    Click on FIND LIBRARY MATERIALS in the upper left and then select Electronic Journals to check to see if UB has online access to a particular journal
  3.    From under QUICK LINKS, on the left hand side, click on where it says: 
  • Resources by Subject – to access research databases to find journal articles on your topic and link to full text.
  • Databases by Title – Once you know the name of the database you want to search (like Academic Search Complete or Compendex), use this link to connect to it alphabetically. 


  1. Connect to BISON from the UB Libraries’ main web page at or directly via
  2. Type in your keywords in the All Fields search box. For example, try these keyword searches: 
  • buffalo new york history industry
  • buffalo new york history steel
  • niagara falls hydoelectric

 HINTS: Based on what you are looking for, try typing into the search box strings such as: buffalo new york history industry or you can be more specific, e.g., buffalo new york history steel. And, of course, you can try removing the term “history.” Using it assures that you will find a “look back” or synthetic account – not something “in the moment.” Remember, the catalog can lead you to both primary and secondary sources.  It all depends on how you phrase your question or what you’re trying to accomplish.


I.  America: History & Life

Use an authoritative information source, like the database American History & Life, to find journal articles. 

To search America: History & Life:

  1. Connect from the UB Libraries’ main web page at by selecting “Databases by Title” under QUICK LINKS or directly via 
  2. Once connected, try this sample search:  
  3.        In the first search box, type in the word:  steel
  4.        In the second search box, type in:  western new york OR buffalo
  5.        Click on the SEARCH button. 

Below is one of the articles we retrieved. Click on the gray “SEARCH FOR ARTICLE” button to see if you can connect to the full text of the article online. 

From Fire to Rust: Business, Technology and Work at the Lackawanna Steel Plant, 1899-1983.  By: Casey, Robert. Technology & Culture, Oct1988, Vol. 29 Issue 4, p929-931, 3p; Historical Period: 1899 to 1983

Subjects: TECHNOLOGY; STEEL industry; LABOR unions; BUSINESS; BETHLEHEM Steel Corp.

Check here to see if UB owns this item  

For older material (or for material contemporaneous with your topic) try:            

Periodicals Index Online (1770s-1990s)

American Periodicals Series (1741-early-1900s)

Readers Guide Retrospective (1890-1992) 

II. Compendex (Engineering Index)

To search for more technical information, try using an engineering article database like Compendex, the premier engineering research database. Compendex goes back to 1884 and so is inherently historical, but you need to be fairly specific in your searching. 

To search Compendex:

  1. Connect from the UB Libraries’ main web page at by selecting “Databases by Title” under QUICK LINKS, or directly via
  2. Once connected, this is what you will see at the top of the screen: 
All Compendex Inspec NTIS GEOBASE
GeoRef US Patents EP Patents  


  1. De-select all of the databases by clicking on the check marks in their boxes except for Compendex for this class.
  2. Now, in the first search box, type in lackawanna steel.
  3. Here is one of the articles we retrieved, dated 1907: 

Niagara power at the lackawanna steel plant
Parker, John C. Source: Electric Journal, Jan, 1907
Database: Compendex
Abstract  –  Detailed  -    

  1. To see if UB has this article, click on the gray “SEARCH FOR ARTICLE” button
  2. Note:  Many of these older articles are in print journals and are not available online; many of these older print journals are stored now in the UB Libraries’ ANNEX. We will scan a copy of the article for you from these older stored journal and send it to you as a PDF using ILLiad; here’s how to request this: 

Use the BISON catalog at to first check that we have the journal in print and that it is at the Annex.

Then, go to and click on Log-on, then click on New User to first register; once registered, make your journal article requests by selecting the Annex option. 


Looking for some easily accessible primary source material? Old newspapers are a great source. 

Buffalo News 

  1. Search the Buffalo News by connecting to Lexis-Nexis, 1992 to present, via
  2. To search the Buffalo News, type Buffalo News in the box labeled “or by source title.”
  3. Type search terms in the box labeled “search for”
  4. Click GO.

Note that we have the Buffalo News on film for the years 1881-1926, 1954 to present in the Silverman Library Multimedia Center, 2nd floor, Capen Hall.

Also, Buffalo State’s Butler Library has the Courier-Express newspaper archive:

If you wish to use other newspaper, and depending on your topic, take a look at:



  • There are a number of excellent web sites that deal with Buffalo and Western New York broadly:  

Buffalo History 

The Buffalo History Works 

Online Full Text Resources on Buffalo 

Buffalo Historical Information 

New York History Net 

The Buffalonian (collected by Buffalo librarian, Cynthia Van Ness)

Web sites with a specific topical or geographical focus include:

Buffalo Architecture and History 

The Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum 

Lackawanna History and Steel Plant Museum 

Amherst Museum (Amherst, NY) 

Niagara County History website (links to historical societies and resources in Niagara County

 Illuminations: Revisiting the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition of 1901 

New York State Archives Legacy Project 

Western New York Heritage Press (great images on all aspects of WNY history) 

Buffalo Museums and Organizations

  • There are a number of local museums and organizations we encourage you to visit: 

University at Buffalo: Archives and Special Collections

(See Archives and Historical Collections) 

Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society 

Buffalo and Erie County Public Library 

Buffalo Museum of Science 


We recommend using the search engines below when searching the Internet.

Google Scholar

Restricts your search results to scholarly books, articles, and other publications.

Google Books


Most of the above include images, but these sources are especially valuable and wide-ranging.

Google Videos

Google Images

ARTstor (better than Google but not as wide ranging)

Western New York Heritage Press (image quality is superior)

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