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Christmas in Buffalo: c. 1910

Christmas in Buffalo: c. 1910

Christmas with my grandparents in Buffalo, New York. They are the couple on the right. Grandmother emigrated to the U.S. in 1909. This is likely from one of their first Christmases in America as the image comes from a glass negative. There are a couple dozen glass negatives so it would appear that Granddad moved to film stock by the Teens.

The other folks in the image are unknown by name but appear in multiple negatives from this time period. I'm fairly positive that none are relatives -- more likely other immigrant friends from Germany or acquaintances met in the U.S.

The "Charlie Brown" tree is decorated with nearly two dozen burning candles! The chandelier appears to be gas with flow regulators on each of the arms going to the globes. View full size.

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Lit candles on a tree (they still do that)

My wife is from Germany and a couple years back we spent Christmas with her family there. Her brother had a indoor Christmas tree with burning candles. They all had a good laugh that I somehow thought this was dangerous! Those crazy Germans!

So familiar!

And such memories. I live in the Metro DC area now, but my childhood was on Buffalo's east side, in the Polish-German area (my father is from "Kaisertown", my mother from Sloan). My grandfather's houses (both of them) were very similar to what we see in the photograph. My memory goes back to the early 50's but my 80 year old dad would sure recognize the atmosphere!

Thank you!

Your Christmas present to US!

Yes, thank you, bhappel. "Vielen Dank" to you and your beautiful German grandparents...und Frohe Weihnachten!


for the big pic of the ribbon. It does look like a holiday adornment. Good thing that Mr. Wicker Chair was wearing some holiday cheer as he looks a little glum otherwise. Maybe b/c no s.o.?

That Ribbon

I did some editing to look at the ribbon. I can't detect any writing and from the 3D appearance I'd guess that it is a temporary Holiday accessory.

Great picture

Thanks for sharing it, bhappel. I love these informal pictures as it makes me able to picture what my ancestors may have looked like at that time.

Only the men appear to be holding beverage glasses. Was it considered inappropriate for a woman to be seen with a drink? Also, anyone know what the ribbon on Mr. Wicker Chair is for?

Real candles

Wonderful image. One of the few things I remember well from kindergarten in the mid-60's is a real Christmas tree in a corner of the classroom with real burning candles. And a real bucket of water standing by. Never encountered anything like it after that.

Across the years

That background couple are completely focused on each other, and I get a sense of eternal love going on there!


Aaaaaaannnddd now I have found a new desktop wallpaper. Thanks for sharing! The holidays have officially begun!

Grandmother's childhood tree

My grandmother told us stories of her traditional family Christmas tree during the decade after this photo. They could only light the tree while their dad was in the room and standing by with a bucket of water. Hooray for electrons on demand!

Very nice photo.

White Christmas

I would be willing to wager that if grandmother is looking out the window, she is seeing a mantle of snow on the ground. It is Buffalo after all.

Just Good Friends

The two chaps in the foreground seem to be on very friendly terms. Mind you, judging by the jug, this is not the first round of Xmas cheer.


What a marvelous picture, and such a family treasure! Thank you for sharing.

Starfleet Christmas!

Is that an ancestor of Brent (Data) Spiner, in front?


Burning candles on a tree below a gas lamp. Our ancestors didn't sweat the small stuff!

Lit candles on a tree

can be pretty dangerous. My mother recalled one of her childhood Christmas trees catching fire from one of the wax candles (mid to late 1930's). We have no holiday pictures from her childhood, so it's nice to see what her Christmas tree probably looked like.

Different foci

A lot of focused affection in that back row. However, Grandmother seems distracted by something outside a window. In the front, Jr. can't wait to gulp down that holiday punch, while Mr. Photogenic on the right seems fully conscious of the occasion (as usual). What a fascinating photo!

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