Grave Matters Symposium: Exploring WNY's Diverse Cemeteries
Friday, June 17, 2022
Friday, June 17, 2022
10:00 am to 3:00 pm

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Online via Zoom


Join us as we explore the diverse histories of Western New York cemeteries and the communities they belong to.

Registration is required. Registrants will receive a link to the webinar one day prior to the event.


10 - 10:15 am: Opening remarks

10:15 - 11:15 am: Jim Boles - "The Niagara County, NY Poorhouse and Cemetery"

A research interest of Jim's from the 1990's, the history of the 1829 Niagara County Poorhouse will be reviewed. This will include an overview of those buried at the site and a marked mystery grave of a wealthy family.  A spreadsheet project to list all of the graves and recorded death records will be discussed.  The ongoing clean-up efforts and working with the government officials will be covered.

11:15 - 12:15 pm: Pete Ames - "Grave Matters: Locating and Honoring Veterans"

Genealogy is Pete's primary interest, and he is also an advocate of noting and honoring US military veterans. His research usually involves visits to local cemeteries where he determined that the final resting place of many vets weren’t noted. That was in 2010, and the beginning of several projects that Pete undertook to rectify that issue at 3 different cemeteries in the area. Details to follow.

12:15 - 12:45 pm - Lunch break

12:45 - 1:45 pm: Dr. Chana R. Kotzin - "Bound Up In the Bond of Eternal Life"

Jewish cemeteries are sites of religious and cultural memory for family and communities. They highlight patterns of attachment and acculturation alongside patterns of immigrant settlement and communal relocations. Through an exploration of the different types of Jewish cemeteries, this presentation will explore some of the precepts that govern their creation, variation, iconography and funerary practices with illustrative examples from synagogues, mutual benefit aid societies, and Jewish fraternal organizations.

1:45 - 2:45 pm: Terry Abrams - "Haudenosaunee Burial Customs and Cemeteries"

This presentation will focus on traditional Haudenosaunee burial customs and beliefs about death, and the history of cemetery practices primarily on the Tonawanda Seneca Nation territory. I will also talk briefly about the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).

2:45 - 3: Closing remarks


Registration is required. This webinar presentation will be recorded and the recording will be sent to all registrants regardless of attendance. However, you must attend live in order to receive CE Credit. We cannot give credit for watching the recording.

Registration instructions: To register, click “Add to Cart”. Then, select “Cart” to check out. Your registration will not be finalized until you complete these two steps and receive an emailed confirmation of your registration.

If you don’t have an account on our website but want to register for this workshop, you can create an account using your work credentials, or as a non-member. If you go to the upper right hand corner of our website, you’ll see text that says “Create an account”. Click on that to get started.

  • If your library is a member of WNYLRC, you will select “WNYLRC Member Library Staff”. Once you select that, you will then be prompted to select your Institution.
  • If you’re an employee of a library affiliated with the other 3Rs/ESLN councils, you will select “Other 3Rs Library Council Member”. Then you will be prompted to select which council you are affiliated with.
  • If you are not affiliated with a 3Rs/ESLN council, you will select “Non-member” and register as a non-member.
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Speaker Name:
Terry Abrams, Pete Ames, Jim Boles, Dr. Chana Kotzin
Speaker Bio:

Terry C. Abrams is the curator and collections manager for the Niagara History Center, a position he has held since 2018. He began his museum career as an intern at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian. The former President of the Tonawanda Reservation Historical Society, and current Co-chair of the Conference on Iroquois Research, Terry has also worked for the Genesee County History Department and the Rochester Museum & Science Center and was the administrative coordinator for the Western NY Association of Historical Agencies (WNYAHA) from 2007-2018. He is a member of the Museum Association of New York (MANY), and the Field Services Alliance, an affinity group of the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH).

Pete Ames has been the Town of Niagara Historian since 2016. His passion is family history research and he has been involved in countless searches over the last 30 years. Whether it is his own family or someone else’s, he loves the thrill of the hunt.

Jim Boles is the retired CEO of People Inc  a health and human agency in Western NY.  He has an EdD from Columbia University in Education.  He was the founder of the former Museum of disABILITY History in Amherst NY.  His research interests include early care and healing,and local history with a focus on Western NY. He writes historical articles for the local papers and has published  a number of local history books.   He works out of the corporate headquarters of Vanishing Past Press-which is located at one end of his family room.

Dr. Chana R. Kotzin has been active in the field of public history and museums for the last two decades focusing on Jewish community histories in Europe and America. She is currently a consultant and digital historian to the Jewish Buffalo History Center, an initiative of the Buffalo Jewish Federation. In addition she serves as curator at the Benjamin and Dr. Edgar R. Cofeld Judaic Museum of Temple Beth Zion, guiding its reorganization and consulting on a new core exhibition. She is author of Jewish Community of Greater Buffalo published by Arcadia, and is currently writing a history of post-WWII Buffalo Jewish history. She has served as an adjunct professor at area colleges and previously worked at the Jewish Museum of Maryland and the Jewish Women’s Archive among other positions.


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