Friday, April 22, 2016

Starting With Me

Sandra Ann Williams , born 1953, in the crib my father hand-made.

Most books, articles, workshops, etc. on genealogy state that research starts with yourself but it never dawned on me to do my own biography until recently.

I was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, the daughter of Willis B. and Evelyn O. Williams. Under their strong love, guidance and support, I was instilled with the importance of family, loyalty and community.

My earliest memories are of growing up at 218 Walnut Street in Buffalo and attending P.S. 47.  Months before my sixth grade graduation, my family moved to 523 Woodlawn Avenue in Buffalo's "Cold Spring" area. I remember my brothers and I thinking that we were rich because it was a beautifully tree-lined neighborhood with large well-kept homes. My brothers, Richard, Steven, Barry, and Raymond were transferred to the new neighborhood school, P.S. #53.  For the few months until my sixth grade graduation, I stayed in the old neighborhood living with my great-aunt, Elizabeth Mason aka Auntie Lizzie during the school week and going home for the weekends.

In September 1965 I attended the neighborhood school Woodlawn Jr. High (from 7th through 9th grades), and later East High School (1968-1971).  After a few false attempts at college -- Howard University {I attended Howard because it was my mother's dream to go there}, Villa Maria College, and Buffalo State College -- I finally earned an undergraduate degree from Medialle College in Human Services (1981). 

Not finding a job in my field, I worked a variety of jobs before taking a county clerical exam and being offered a job at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library where I worked at many of the city branches, including the mobile units, the RAM Van and Lookie Bookie. While at the library, I attended evening classes at the University of Buffalo School of Information Library Science and earned a Master of Library Science degree (1991).

My biggest joy has been my daughter, Elizabeth --  her birth, raising her, seeing the woman she has become and sharing travel experiences with her. (At her request I never mention her age or birth year and seldom full name on social media.)

I met my husband, Joseph Bush, in 1986 while we were working at the Central Library. We married and honeymooned in Niagara Falls NY on January 6, 1996.  I retired from the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library in August 2015 after 30 years of service. My last position was Branch Manager of the Frank E. Merriweather, Jr. Library.

Since 1995, I have performed as a solo artist and as a charter member of Tradition Keepers: Black Storytellers of Western New York.  In addition to storytelling, I am a djembe drummer with the group Daughters of Creative Sound (since 2004), an African American women's percussion ensemble. 

I am currently ENJOYING retirement!


  1. Sounds like your life has been, and is still, very full. I met my husband at the library.

  2. Yes, sometimes I don't see how I had the time to work :)