Erie Canal Exhibit at the Steele Memorial Library


February 2019 at the Steele Memorial Library: Erie Canal Bicentennial Exhibition

“Two Hundred Years on the Erie Canal” was developed by the Western New York Library Resources Council, with grant funding from Humanities New York, to celebrate the Bicentennial groundbreaking of the Erie Canal in New York State.

The DPLA has a digital companion exhibit located online via this link:

Elmira was connected to the Erie Canal through the Chemung Canal, which is now Route 14. This canal operated from 1833 through the 1870s.  For more on the Chemung Canal, click here:


View of the old Erie Canal at Lockport, Niagara County, showing the two tiers of five locks under construction, with a towpath on the right. The locks take the canal off the Allegheny Plateau down to the Ontario Lake Plain. Collection of NYS Archives, available online at DPLA:






Elmira through the ages: A Pictorial Review






Elmira, 1840.                                                                                             


elmira 1862

Elmira from East Hill, 1862. A nice view of the Chemung Canal and canal boats. Image courtesy of Chemung County Historical Society.


elmira 1873

Elmira 1873 by Bailey, H. H. (Howard Heston), 1836-1878. Library of Congress. Permalink:



1882:  artist: Burleigh. lithographer: JH Kirby. Image Courtesy of Chemung County Historical Society.




Elmira 1884 by John Moray and printed by Mensing & Stechep (Rochester, NY). Image courtesy of NY Historical Society.



Elmira NY 1901. Perspective map not drawn to scale. Bird’s-eye-view. LC Panoramic maps (2nd ed.), 559 Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as a raster image. Includes illus., directory, and view of “Elmira Heights, N.Y. 1901.” AACR2
LCCN Permalink


From the CCLD Collection:

aerial view of elmira nylooking towards elmira ny from sullivan mountainview from mountaintop_near elmira

New to the Collection: Register of EFA Alumni 1859–1909


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The volume finally gives us information about EFA graduates in Elmira before 1909. Check out some of the images below for a sample of what this volume has to offer. Do you recognize any names?

New to the Local History/Family History Collection Winter 2018


The Fleming family of Bradford County PA and Chemung County NY:. Also allied families Gordon and Shoemaker

The Fleming family photographs



My Mark Twain by William Dean Howells

Foretasting heaven : talking to Twain at Quarry Farm

Quarry Farm papers : an occasional publication of the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies at Quarry Farm



Free African Americans of Maryland and Delaware : from the colonial period to 1810

Free African Americans of Maryland 1832

The slave years, 1760-1764 : Names and surprising details

The slave years, 1750-1759 : Names and surprising details

Free African Americans of North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina : from the colonial period to about 1820



Onions, tomahawks and spoons : interesting glimpses into the local history of Canastota, Oneida, Sherrill, Vernon and the surrounding region

History of Brulé’s discoveries and explorations, 1610-1626, being a narrative of the discovery, by Stephen Brulé, of lakes Huron, Ontario and Superior; and of his explorations (the first made by civilized man) of Pennsylvania and western New York, also of the Province of Ontario, Canada; with a biographical notice of the discoverer and explorer, who was killed and eaten by savages



Surname index, 1800 census, Westchester County, New York

New York biographical dictionary

Proceedings of the Elmira Academy of Sciences

A bird’s eye view of New York : views and viewmakers of New York State, 1836-1892

Historical sources for Jewish heritage in Elmira : collected from the archives of the Chemung County Historical Society and Congregation Kol Ami



Naval records for genealogists

The Norman people and their existing descendants in the British dominions and the United States of America





Online research for Elmira Newspapers


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Here is a step by step guide to finding years available online for Chemung County Newspapers on NYS Historic Newspapers.  I have also included some other search strategies for local newspapers.

We currently have 1891-1907 of the Elmira Gazette online through NYS Historic Newspapers.

Here is a link to their homepage:
To view a full list of Chemung County papers online, please click on Chemung County in the NYS map.
To the right of the page, you will see the titles and the years the title was in publication. Question marks are often used if it is unclear when the paper ceased publication.
This is due to many assorted reasons.  If you would like to see a list of the issues digitized and available online right now, please follow these steps:
First, from the Chemung County Page, click on the title you would like to see.
In this case, we are selecting “The Elmira Gazette.”
On the right of the page, you will see a thumbnail image of a newspaper and a little calendar icon with a prompt that says “Browse: calendar view.”
The “Calendar View” prompt is clickable.. Please click on it. That will take you here:

On the left side of the page, you will see “Issues For: [YEAR}.
The year for the Elmira Gazette starts at 1891.
You can click on the year and a drop-down box will appear which shows you all the years online that are available.
In this instance, you will see that the years available digitally for this title go up to 1907.

For researching the Star-Gazette online, the Star-Gazette website has an archives function. This is a personal subscription page that does cost money to view the full articles. However, one can still lookup things on the site and get thumbnails of articles complete with date and page number without paying to subscribe.
To find the Star-Gazette Archives feature, go to their home page,  and click on “Archives.” This will take you here:

The Star-Gazette is also available online through a paid personal subscription through
Institutional subscriptions that include digital access to this title are available through ProQuest, but run upwards of $4,000 per year for access.
This proves to be unsustainably cost-prohibitive for the Genealogy Department to offer to patrons.

We offer full-text of the Star-Gazette on microfilm to patrons who come in to research.
They can procure dates and pages numbers from the Star-Gazette archives site, or from searching the newspaper index through the library StarCat catalog.
To search for local history articles on the StarCat catalog:
1. Go to the StarCat page:
2. Type in keywords, or the [LastName, FirstName] of the person you are searching for.
3. I typed in elmira airport.  I got to this link with all the newspaper results for the airport:

4. To limit your search to just newspaper articles, click on “Newspaper” under “Material Type” in the left-hand column.

We also offer a distance research service to out-of town researchers.  The directions on how to do this can be found here:

NYSHNPlease do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions on this or any other matter.

All the Very Best,

Maggie Young

Genealogy and Local History Librarian

Steele Memorial Library
Chemung County Library District
101 E. Church St.
Elmira NY 14901
P: (607)733-8603
F: (607)733-9176

Problems with Ancestry Library Edition


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Click on the link for a slideshow on how to find related records in Ancestry Library Edition.

Problems with ancestry library edition

Another problem on the search function–the algorithm seems to be ignoring location info. For example, if I put in a specific city I may get 20 matches from other states before the one for my search, though all have the same name. It seems to be forgetting to prioritize my results by location. This seems to be a recent, but pervasive, change.

If you see strange results in your searches, please copy the URL of the page and send it to me and I can notify the good folks at Ancestry.  (

Workarounds in Ancestry Library Editio!

New to the collection: Summer 2018

Callensburg: A Small Community

Interviews with people from Callensburg and Licking Township, Clarion County, PA. 1978.

The German church records of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania

Vol 2: 1792-1804

Vol. 4: 1813-1820

History of Venango County, Pennsylvania, Volumes I & II

Eighteenth century emigrants from the Northern Alsace to America

Fabian families of Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Church record of the Christ (Maxatawny or De Long’s) Reformed Church at Bowers, Berks County, Pennsylvania, (1765-1832)

Canton, Pennsylvania, 1795-1976


Canton Tea Company and Union Fire Company Number Two, Fourth and Olive Street, Northwest Corner. 1848.

History of the county of Westmoreland, Pennsylvania

Research outline, Canada

Corbin collection: Reproduction of typed manuscript list of contents of the Corbin Manuscript Collection of genealogical materials relating to the Corbin family of Massachusetts from 1650 to 1850 which was compiled by Walter E. Corbin and his wife, Lottie S. Corbin. NOTE: Microfilmed rolls ARE available for viewing at the Steele Memorial Library and are in the process of being added to the catalog.

[Newsletter] / Erin Historical Society Newsletter of the Erin NY Historical Society, 2003-2010.

Huckleberry Finn as idol and target : the functions of criticism in our time

British origins of American colonists, 1629-1775



Civil War resources in genealogy and local history


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by United States. Naval History Division.
by McPherson, James M.


by Wright, J. D., 1938-
by McPherson, James M.
by Twain, Mark, 1835-1910.
by Townsend, Thomas S. (Thomas Seaman), 1829-1908.
by New York (State). Andersonville Monument Dedication Commission.
by McKay, C. E. (Charlotte Elizabeth)
by Horigan, Michael.
by New York (State). Monuments Commission for the Battlefields of Gettysburg and


English & Welsh Genealogy Events


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Made possible by a generous donation from the Friends of the CCLDindex



Fri. July 13, 1-3pm — English and Welsh Parish Records 1538 -1837.

From 1538-1837 parish records contain all the significant life events of 98% of the population, in addition, original documents often contain additional personal comments from the recorder.    We will examine the historical parish jurisdictions and the personal and cultural impacts of the church/state law that governed most citizens regarding baptism, marriage, burial, and many other life events.  (Level Beginner to Intermediate)

 Sat. Sept. 15, 1-3pm — English &Welsh Civil Registration: 1837 – Present.

July 1837 saw the responsibilities of the church passed over to the government.  Registration of life events became a civil responsibility.  This class will examine the birth, marriage and death indexes, transcriptions, and certificates, how to access and understand the document numbers and order a copy of the original certificate on-line from the General Registry Office (GRO).  (Level Beginner to Intermediate)

 Sat Oct.13, 1-3pm — English & Welsh Census Pre-1841, 1841-1911

Family structure, occupation, immigration, emigration, and place of birth are often contained in the UK government census.  These important documents are a staple for family historians. We will examine how they were compiled, by whom, as well as accessing helpful guides to try and locate the apparent absentees and lists of missing census. (Level Beginner to Intermediate)

Call 607.733.9175 to register.

$5 suggested donation


About the Presenter

Liz Pearson is a native of England whose foray into genealogical research started about 35 years ago when an attempt to identify her grandmother turned into her very own family history addiction.

Since then, she has spent thousands of hours combing the myriad English and Welsh archives in the UK, the US, and online for herself and others. Liz is an expert on ecumenical (1538-1837) and civil law (1837-Present) and the broad spectrum of Parish Chest Records. She holds several research qualifications and is an associate member of the Society of Genealogists in London, England. Liz now volunteers and teaches for the Pinellas (FL) Genealogical Society as well as offering professional genealogy services in English and Welsh family history. Liz is also a photographer and likes to spend her spare time capturing images of elusive wild orchids and uncooperative fauna.


The Steele Memorial Library is located in downtown Elmira NY at 101. E Church St.

From I-86 (Route 17) take exit 56 for Elmira. Continue on 352 W (Church St) heading west. We are located at the intersection of Clemens Center Parkway and Church St. Parking entrances can be found off of church St, and off of 1st St via the Clemens Center Parkway. There is parking behind the library as well as by the entrances.

The programs will be in the large meeting room of the Steele Memorial Library.

Coffee, tea, and light refreshments will be served.

The library is open until 5pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Program attendees are welcome to explore the genealogical holdings upstairs, and with ID, peruse on the library computers.


The Steele’s Genealogy Collection:

Come early, stay late, and research!

 New York State Vital Statistics Index: Deaths and Marriages 1880-1964, Births 1880-1937


Local newspapers: 1835 to present

New York Times: 1851 to Dec 2007

All NY County Histories and Atlases



1790 – 1880 for all states

1890 (special census only) veterans

1900-1930: New York and Pennsylvania



1880 & 1900 NY & PA


Chemung County State Census

1855 indexed, 1865, 1892, 1905, 1915, 1925 1825, 1835 paper records

1855 Census on Microfilm for Allegany, Schuyler

Steuben and Yates Counties

Woodlawn Cemetery Records 1868-2016

St. Peters & Paul’s Cemetery records 1890-2016

Forest Lawn Cemetery records 1938-2016

Elmira Presbyterian Church records

Catholic Church records 1848-1910

Mortality schedules: 1850-1880 NY & PA



Marriages & Death prior to 1960

Cemetery records up to 2004 ON CD





Also in our collection

Star Gazette Article and Obituary Index

1975-present. Accessible through the online library catalog. See Genealogy Department web page for instructions!

Elmira Newspapers Births & Deaths indexed

1830-1969 Marriage and Death Notices

1957-1969 Births

Obituary newspaper Indexes 1898-1969

Other places of interest in Elmira

Woodlawn National Cemetery, 1825 Davis St

Mark Twain’s Grave: Woodlawn Cem., 1200 Walnut St

Mark Twain’s Study @ Elmira College, 800 Park Place

Newtown Battlefield: 2346 County Rd 60, Elmira, NY

Arnot Art Museum: 235 Lake St

Chemung County Historical Society: 415 E Water St

Elmira Prison Camp: 699 Winsor Ave


Downtown Restaurants

Pepper Pot Café: 311 College Ave.

Beijing Gardens: 145 W. Gray St.

Los Panchos: 250 W. Water St.

Turtle Leaf Café: 315 E. Water St.

Horigans: 265 Davis St.


Vincenzo’s Pizza