Local Research

Research in Western New York

Note: In addition to the general information found below, here is a very thorough guide to finding vital & archival records in Buffalo & Erie County.

Vital Records

Civil vital registrations (birth, marriage and death records) are an important resource for genealogists. To obtain a vital record, it is necessary to know the precise municipality in which the event took place. Once the location has been identified, vital records can usually be requested by mail from the city, town, or village clerk’s office for that municipality. A list of municipalities within Erie County, New York may be found here.

For vital events that took place within the City of Buffalo, the City of Buffalo Inactive Records & Research Facility has birth indexes (1878–1915), marriage indexes (1877–1935), and death indexes (1852–1944). They also have census records, tax and assessment roll books, and more. The center is located at 45 Comet Ave., Buffalo, NY 14216. Please visit their website for current hours and contact information.

Vital Records Indexes

  • Births: To request a birth record, the record must be at least 75 years old.  The subject of the genealogy search must be deceased, as proven by the death certificate provided by the applicant. Birth records starting with the year 1878 are available.
  • Marriages: Requested records must be at least 50 years old. The subjects of the genealogy search must be deceased, as proven by the death certificates provided by the applicant. Marriage records are available starting in 1877.
  • Deaths: Requested records must be at least 50 years old. Death records starting with the year 1852 are available.

If you cannot visit in person, vital records may also be requested by mail; please visit the Buffalo City Clerk‘s website for details.

Naturalization Records

Naturalization petitions dated after September 27, 1906 are usually a good source for identifying the precise place of origin of Polish immigrants. Records of individuals naturalized between September 27, 1906 and April 1, 1956 may be obtained from the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service’s Genealogy program. However, due to the expense and the long wait times associated with that process, it is often more expeditious and cost-effective to obtain records some other way. The Erie County Clerk’s Office, located at 92 Franklin Street in Buffalo, has naturalization records from 1827 to 1929 for the Supreme, Superior and County Courts. Records of immigrants who were naturalized by the United States District Court, Western District of New York are located at the U.S. District Court House, 2 Niagara Square in Buffalo, New York.

If your Polish immigrant ancestor naturalized in another county in New York, the County Clerk’s office from that county may have naturalization records available. A list of New York counties, with links to the county websites, may be found here.

General information about naturalization records for genealogy, with links to major websites with online records, may be found here.

Research at the Grosvenor Room

The Grosvenor Room at the Central Library of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library (B&ECPL) is home to a wealth of resources for genealogical research, including our own Michael Drabik Memorial Library Collection. For those researchers who are not local to WNY, the library offers a remote research service.

Research Online

Our Research Links page suggests some additional websites that will be of interest to those researching their Polish ancestry in Western New York.

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