Canal Society of New York State Collection

Canal Society of New York State Collection


The CSNYS began in 1956, the first such group dedicated to canal heritage in the nation. It soon amassed manuscripts, books, prints and other artworks and artifacts when appreciation of this legacy was young. The collection includes primary resources on other transportation modes as well. The Welland Canal in Canada and the Saint Lawrence Seaway are essential linkages and are reflected in the collection. The collection captures an unprecedented view of historic landscapes. The canals date to the 18th-century and still function as a commercial waterway and as an icon of our national development. The Erie and its laterals reached corners of the State, from the Hudson to Lake Erie. Views of the Erie chart the growth of cities such as New York, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo. Its success inspired others beyond the State's borders. The collection's greatest strength is its photographs. There are glass and film negatives (3,500), historic prints and postcards (10,500), color transparencies (4,000), early color aerial images, and family collections by those who worked the canal. These are preliminary estimates. The most sought after portion includes those of more recent vintage, documenting the condition of historic structures and current operations. Perhaps the most untapped content remains with members of the CSNYS and other historians waiting for a more accessible depository to place their materials. The online access will provide a portal to gather those materials.


Cataloging Hidden Collections

Amount Awarded


Year Added



Erie Canal Museum


  • Natalie Stetson

Collaborating Institution(s)

Canal Society of New York State (CSNYS), Canadian Canal Society (CCS)

Collection Size

600 cubic feet

Date Range

1780 - 2012

Geographic Scope

It studies the Erie Canal. From the Hudson to Lake Erie, it was the backbone for state and national growth, inspiring links in the US and Canada.