Buffalo Genealogical Society of the African Diaspora

1324 Jefferson Ave
Frank Merriweather Library
Buffalo, NY 14208


Buffalo Genealogical Society of the African Diaspora


The Buffalo Genealogical Society of the African Diaspora (BGSAD) was founded in Buffalo, New York in 1996 by Sonia L. Walker and Robert N. Davis, Jr.  It was incorporated in the state of New York under New York Education Law in 1999. The focus of the organization has been that of an educational entity, encouraging and promoting the use of genealogy/family history as a tool for understanding the socio-historical context of people of African descent in the United States.

The Buffalo Genealogical Society of African Diaspora (BGSAD) Funeral Program and Obituary Project was envisioned by the late Robert N. Davis, Jr. cofounder of the Society. The volumes of the collection are housed in the William A. Miles Room at the Frank Merriweather, Jr. Library. The programs in the collection were donated by individuals, funeral homes, churches, and print shops.

Buffalo Genealogical Society of the African Diaspora is a member of the Western New York Library Resources Council.


Funeral program for Gladys Chase, Buffalo, NY

The purpose of the collection is to preserve the biographical and historical information that is found in printed funeral programs from the African-American community. The information holds great research potential for those involved in investigating and preserving family history and genealogical connections locally and nationwide. The collection includes funeral programs, newspaper articles, and death notices. The funeral programs typically contain a photo of the deceased, an obituary, listing of living family members, birth and death dates, maiden names, the order of the service, and burial location.

Some of the programs are from individuals born as early as 1892. Many of those included in the collection held prominent roles in their communities. Most of the programs are from the greater Buffalo area, but also included are out of state programs from relatives of BGSAD members. Programs have been received from family members, funeral homes and many local churches: Agape AME, Bethel AME, Calvary, First Calvary, First Shiloh, Friendship, Pilgrim and St. John Baptist, Our Savior Lutheran, and St. Phillips Episcopal.