New Collection: The Twentieth Century Club of Buffalo

Claire Enkosky - May 20th, 2013

The Twentieth Century Club of Buffalo, one of the first private clubs for women in the United States, was founded in 1894 "to advance the interests of education, literature and art." Charlotte Mulligan, a teacher, writer, and musician from a well-to-do family was the driving force behind its creation. She envisioned a club rich in tradition, education, and culture, and the elegant Green & Wicks-designed Clubhouse, with characteristic symmetry and balance, is a testament to that vision. It is the oldest women's clubhouse in the country and on the National Register of Historic Places.

20th Century Club

The Twentieth Century Club became noted for the many lavish social events held there, but education was, and still is, the primary focus of activity. Starting with an 1894 lecture on Abraham Lincoln, and continuing through the present, the Club has a long tradition of presenting prominent speakers and programs by recognized experts on a wide variety of subjects. From the 19th century, when women couldn't vote and had limited opportunity, to today in the 21st century when possibilities seem limitless, the Twentieth Century Club has truly spanned its namesake century and connected those prior and succeeding. Its history parallels and chronicles not only the history of events in Buffalo, but also that of the enormous societal changes which have occurred in its lifespan.

Here are some neat items from the collection:

Mrs. William Phelps Northrup dressed as Queen Elizabeth I at the Twentieth Century Club of Buffalo's Shakespearean revels. TCC members, spouses and guests came dressed as famous people in history and Shakespearean literary characters during the Elizabethan period in England at the club's Shakespearean revel
Announcement for TCC members to familiarize themselves with a voting machine prior to its use in the New York State election of November 5, 1918. Women gained the right to vote in New York State elections in 1917. It was not until the Nineteenth Ammendment was ratified in August 1920 that women gained the right to vote in national elections.

Drawing of a portion of the elaborate architectural detail on the Twentieth Century Club of Buffalo's clubhouse, designed by Green & Wicks

Check out the rest of the Twentieth Century Club Collection here


Overlaid Maps

Claire Enkosky - May 1st, 2013

As you all know by now, Google Maps is fantastic. However, sometimes it's limiting for the kind of historical materials we have. For example, I have this map of Nelson, New York, which is a lovely, quiet, little place about 25 miles east of Syracuse. The Oneida Public Library's collection of the 1873 Atlas of Madison County includes a map of Nelson, complete with houses identified by name and even business listings with notes. So neat!

But how can I get this historic map to align with the Google map? I'm not even that confident in the accuracy of the 1873 map, and some of the reference points and names have surely changed:

1873 Map of Nelson and Erieville on New York Heritage Modern Map of Nelson and Erieville on Google Maps

Enter Google Earth! Google Earth is an incredibly powerful but easy to use tool that you can download for free. In Google Earth, users can add images in the form of semi-transparent layers, as I've done with this same old map of Nelson:

Google Earth with Nelson Map Overlaid

Google Earth allows users to stretch, twist and move the layers around so that this map lines up with the satellite view about as well as I can manage.

Another great feature of Google Earth is that it marks the location of images that have been uploaded to Panoramio. An image of the Welsh church marked on the 1873 map is visible on Google Earth- just imagine how cool this is in densely populated, photo-rich cities!

The atlas this map of Nelson came from is especially great because of how much information it holds. It's a treasure trove of information for genealogists and curious residents. I wonder if the folks at 2477 Eden Hollow Road in Nelson know that the 19th century resident of their home, T. M. Richardson, paid cash for everything from sheep to hides and more? They could if they checked out the 1873 Madison Atlas!

Another participating institution in New York Heritage is the Erieville-Nelson Heritage Society, which has done a fantastic job of identifying the people and places of their 19th and 20th century postcards and photographs. Several of the Erieville-Nelson photos feature Robert Odell, the postman for Erieville in the early 20th century. If you look in the middle of the 1873 map, directly to the right of the Erieville Reservoir (also known today as Tuscarora Lake), you'll see that Mrs. Odell lived on what is now Chaphe Hill Road. A genealogist looking up the Odells can find Mrs. Odell's residence in one of New York Heritage's collections and photos of Robert and Elsie Odell in another New York Heritage collection. By bringing all of these small historical collections together, we can make great connections and ties between the materials.