On May 16, the National Genealogical Society (NGS) announced that the exhibit, “Buffalo’s Neighborhoods: Exploring Our Migrant and Immigrant Heritage,” was the winner of the 2024 SLAM! Idea Showcase. PGSNYS is proud of the contributions we made to this exhibit, and we congratulate the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library and the Western New York Genealogical Society on winning this award!

What is the SLAM! Idea Showcase?

The NGS sponsors an annual Virtual Family History Conference, which took place on May 16–18, 2024. According to the NGS website, the Showcase is a part of the conference that “highlights outstanding projects or programs by societies, libraries, archives, museums, and other institutions (SLAM).” Institutions were invited to share five-minute video summaries of projects or programs that were successfully implemented and serve to inform and engage the genealogical and historical research community. Participating SLAM institutions competed for a prize of $250, awarded for the best project in the Showcase.

Where Can I View this Exhibit?

The Buffalo & Erie County Public Library (B&ECPL) and the Western New York Genealogical Society (WNYGS) jointly submitted a video to the SLAM! Idea Showcase, “Buffalo’s Neighborhoods: Exploring Our Migrant and Immigrant Heritage.” This video can be viewed on YouTube, and it explains the genesis and development of their digital exhibit, currently on display at the New York Heritage Digital Collections website.

The exhibit had its roots in a grant which the B&ECPL received as part of the American Rescue Act of 2021, intended to support a project which would “strengthen relationships between libraries and not-for-profit educational organizations.”[1] The B&ECPL, together with the WNYGS, envisioned a digital exhibit which would explore Buffalo’s cultural neighborhoods and their impact on Western New York. Specifically, they hoped to focus on “the growth and evolution of these communities, as well as their contributions. The goal of this project is to provide an exhibit that strengthens Western New York’s identity, creating a deeper understanding and pride in the region and its diverse culture.”[2]

In April 2022, the PGSNYS was invited to participate in this project by providing photos, documents, and artifacts from Buffalo Polonia. Additional participating genealogical societies included The Buffalo Genealogy Society of the African Diaspora (BGSAD), The Buffalo Irish Genealogical Society (BIGS), The Iroquois Genealogy Society, and The Italian Genealogical Society of Western New York. Many of our members may recall submitting photos for this project in response to an email invitation by then-Secretary, Denise Oliansky. Although the finished exhibit was only able to utilize a small portion of the submitted materials, the creators nonetheless did a great job of narrating a bit of Buffalo’s Polish history in the digital exhibit webpages, “East Side Neighborhoods” and “Polonia: The Polish Legacy on the East Side.”

On behalf of all of us at PGSNYS, gratulujemy (congratulations) to the B&ECPL and the WNYGS on winning this award!

[1] Buffalo & Erie County Public Library and Western New York Genealogical Society, 2024 SLAM! Idea Showcase entry, “Buffalo’s Neighborhoods: Exploring Our Migrant and Immigrant Heritage,” National Genealogical Society YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5q-k9wz5suw : posted 16 May 2024).

[2] Rhonda Hoffman, Librarian, Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, email to PGSNYS Board members Maureen Gleason and Denise Oliansky, subject: “Digital Project?,” 21 April 2022.

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