Tag Archives: buffalo

New York v. Uplinger: Gay Rights at the Supreme Court

In 1983, Buffalonian Bobby Uplinger and his lawyer, Bill Gardner, took Bobby’s case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Bobby had been arrested for making a sexual invitation to an undercover cop, and he and Bill were intent on showing that this case–and the many others like it around the U.S.–was a violation of a gay man’s constitutional rights. In this episode, Averill and Sarah introduce an oral history the History Buffs collected from Bill Gardner about this case. Tune in to learn how Bill and Bobby’s story turned out.


Show Notes & Further Reading

William Gardner, Oral History Interview. Conducted by Averill Earls and Elizabeth Garner Masarik on behalf of the Buffalo Oral History Project, 22 November 2015, in the home of William Gardner.

Kennedy, Elizabeth Lapovsky and Madeline D. Davis. Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community. New York: Routledge, 1993. 

The Rural Cemetery Movement

Read the complete transcript of this episode.

Does your city have a big, sprawling cemetery – maybe one with ornate Victorian monuments and statuary? If it does, it was likely built during the rural cemetery movement of the early to mid nineteenth century, an effort to move places of burial away from the center of villages and to the park-like settings on the outskirts. What spurred this move? Join Elizabeth and Sarah as they talk grave iconography, disease epidemics, the commodification of death, and ‘rural’ cemeteries.

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Show Notes & Further Reading

Bender, Thomas. “The ‘Rural’ Cemetery Movement: Urban Travail and the Appeal of Nature,” The New England Quarterly 47 (June 1974).

Greenfield, Rebecca. “Our First Public Parks: The Forgotten History of Cemeteries,” The Atlantic, March 16, 2011.

Schantz, Mark. Awaiting the Heavenly Country: The Civil War and America’s Culture of Death. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2008.

Williams, Tate. “In the Garden Cemetery: The Revival of America’s First Urban Parks,” American Forests, Spring/Summer 2014.



Race, Murder, and Protest in Buffalo 1980.

In the Fall of 1980, serial killer Joseph Christopher set out on a racially motivated killing spree in Buffalo, NY. His horrendous acts inspired the city to rally together in the name of peace and to publicly condemn Christopher’s actions and his supporters. Join us as History Buffs Intern and Public History student Destiny Johnson frames an interview with Buffalo resident Ellie Dorrittie, who was there for it all.

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Show Notes & Further Reading

Hewitt, Christopher. Political Violence and Terrorism in Modern America: A Chronology.

Rule, Shelia.”Slaying of 6 Blacks Brings Racial Tension to Buffalo.” New York Times. 11 Oct 1980. p25.

Rule, Shelia. “Carey Asks FBI for More Help on Murders in Buffalo.” New York Times. 16 Oct 1980. p B3.

Is that lamb made of…butter?!

If you live in the Rust Belt, you may have noticed that Easter brings not only jelly beans and chocolate bunnies to the grocery store but also boxes of butter molded into the shape of lambs.  Does it confuse you?  Do you eat it but have no idea why?  Join Tommy, Dan, and Marissa as they dig into the rollicking history of the butter lamb, just in time for Easter!

Don’t forget to enter to win the Butter Lamb T-shirt! Contest closes 26 March 2016 at 11:59PM EST.

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Show Notes and Further Reading

Abt, Christina. Chicken Wing Wisdom: Western New York Stories of Family, Life and Food Shared Around the Table. Buffalo, NY: Western New York Wares, 2005.

Division, Alan. The Oxford Companion to Food. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Shelton, Brenda K. Reformers in Search of Yesterday: Buffalo in the 1890’s. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1976.

Buffalo’s Broadway Market

Buffalo’s Polish Pioneers

Buffalo “Polonia” at the Turn of the Century

Butter Lambs are Polish Easter Tradition

Malczewski’s Easter Butter Lamb

The Emergence of Dairy Butter

The History of Butter Sculpture Is Strange, Indeed



Tainted Love: Love Canal and the Fight for Environmental Rights

Welcome to this year’s issue of Tainted Love, our annual installment of unusual love stories just in time for Valentine’s Day!


An abandoned house in Love Canal, circa 1978 | EPA / Wikimedia Commons

Today, we’re headed just up the road from Buffalo to Love Canal, New York, a small suburban development that made big headlines when toxic chemicals started to appear in residents’ yards.  After a damning health study was released in the summer of 1978, the residents there became arguably the most influential environmental advocates of the late twentieth century.  Join Katie and Tommy as they talk environmental justice from then until now with their guest, Dr. Richard S. Newman.  It’s a Valentine’s Day special, History Buffs style!



Protests by a Love Canal resident circa 1978 | EPA / Wikimedia Commons


As mentioned in the podcast, Dr. Newman will be giving a talk at the Buffalo History Museum on Wednesday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m.  His talk is entitled “Love Canal: A Toxic History,” and comes from his new book, Love Canal: A Toxic History from Colonial Times to the Present.  The book is published by Oxford University press and will be released in April 2016.



An abandoned street in Love Canal | Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Show Notes and Further Reading

Edkardt C. Beck, “The Love Canal Tragedy,” EPA Journal 5.1, 1979, 17-20

Elizabeth Blum, Love Canal Revisited: Race, Class, and Gender in Environmental Activism, Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2008

Nicol Bryan,  Love Canal: Pollution Crisis,  Milwaukee: The World Almanac Library, 2004

Craig E. Colton and Peter N. Skinner, The Road to Love Canal: Managing Industrial Waste before the EPA, Austin: The  University of Texas Press, 1996

Kate Davies, The Rise of the U.S. Environmental Health Movement, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc, 2013

Nicholas Freudenerg, Not in Our Backyards! Community Action for Health and the Environment, New York: Monthly Review Press, 1984

Lois Gibbs, Love Canal: The Story Continues…., Gabriola Island: New Society Publishers, 1998

Adeline Levine, Love Canal: The Issues and Controversies. Produced through the Educational Communications Center, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, 2013

Love Canal Emergency Declaration Area Remediation of EDA 2 and 3: Final Study Report,  New York State Department of Health and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, May 1991

Ellen Griffith Spears, Baptized in PCBs: Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town, Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2014


Feature image: Valentine’s Tree with Hearts | Johntex / Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.5,




McKinley, Roosevelt, and the Pan-American Exposition


The Pan-American Exposition, which opened in May 1901, was the pride of Buffalo. The city sparkled with new electric lights that boasted the power and potential of the electricity produced by nearby Niagara Falls. President William McKinley called it a symbol of the “progress of the human family of the Western Hemisphere.”  Little did President McKinley know this speech, full of hope for the future, would be his last. On September 6, 1901, Buffalo became known for something other than electricity or the glittering Pan American Exposition: it became the city where one president was assassinated, and another was inaugurated. Join Dan and Elizabeth as they discuss an anarchist, an assassination, and the unconventional inauguration of one of our nation’s most unconventional presidents.

As a little plug for our fair city – you should definitely stop in and see the incredible Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site. And while you’re in town, take some time to wander around Delaware Park, where you can check out the last few remnants of the Pan American Exposition (now the Albright Knox Art Gallery and the Buffalo History Museum).  


Logo of the 1901 Pan American Exposition | Raphael Beck / Public Domain

Show Notes and Further Reading

Fisher, Jack. Stolen Glory: The McKinley Assassination. La Jolla: Alamar Books, 2001.

Kachun, Mitch.”big Jim” Parker and the Assassination of William Mckinley: Patriotism, Nativism, Anarchism, and the Struggle for African American Citizenship.” The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 9 (1), 93–116.

Miller, Scott. The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century. New York: Random House Publishing, 2013.

Morris, Edmund. Theodore Rex. New York: Random House, 2001.

Morris, Edmund. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1979.

The Last Speech of President William McKinley, September 5, 1901




The Ansley Wilcox Mansion, now the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site  | Courtesy of the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site Foundation, Buffalo, NY


Feature Image: The room where Theodore Roosevelt became president – the library in the Wilcox Mansion | Courtesy of the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site Foundation, Buffalo, NY


The Burning of Buffalo and the War of 1812

Read the complete transcript of this episode.

Most American history books devote a page at most to the War of 1812. It is often referred to as the forgotten war. However, scholarship on the war has exploded in recent years due to the 200th Anniversary of the beginning of the war in 2012.

Drawing of citizens fleeing Buffalo, NY December 30, 1812. Drawn by LeGrand St. John. Courtesy of Buffalo History Museum.

Drawing of citizens fleeing Buffalo, NY December 30, 1812. Drawn by LeGrand St. John. Courtesy of Buffalo History Museum.

The War of 1812 may be a lesser known episode within the larger narrative of American history, but for inhabitants of Buffalo, NY and the surrounding region- the War of 1812 still holds a place of fascination and remembrance.

Join Elizabeth Garner Masarik and Tommy Buttaccio as they discuss the War of 1812 and how the Burning of Buffalo transformed this once frontier town overnight, and even travel with them to the Buffalo History Museum as they speak with Cynthia Van Ness, Director of Archives, about documents pertaining to this obscure episode of American history.


Birds eye view at the junction of main and tupper. Drawn by LeGrand St. John. Courtesy of Buffalo History Museum.

Suggested readings:

Alan Taylor. The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, and Indian Allies. New York: Knopf, 2010.

Carl Benn. Native Memoirs from the War of 1812: Black Hawk and William Apess. Johns Hopkins Press. 2013.

Nicole Eustace. 1812 : War and the Passions of Patriotism. University of Pennsylvania Press. 2012.

For a discussion on using rhetoric of rape and sexuality for political means see:
Sharon Block. Rape and Sexual Power in Early America. Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 2006.

Burned residence chimneys drawn by LeGrand St. John. Courtesy Buffalo History Museum.

Burned residence chimneys drawn by LeGrand St. John. Courtesy Buffalo History Museum.

Featured Image: The Burning of Buffalo. Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Burning of Buffalo.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed November 20, 2015. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-f6d1-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99