Canal Society of New York State Collections

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The Canal Society of New York State was formed in Buffalo in 1956 at the annual meeting of the New York State Historical Association. In that first year, membership was open to anyone interested in the history, folklore, and engineering of former canals and the present condition of the state’s remaining man-made waterways. This is still the primary focus of Canal Society members today.

More than 50 years later, the Canal Society of New York State has an active membership and still organizes two field trips per year, as well as an annual symposium, regular tours of European Canals, and other, smaller events. The Society has compiled a high-quality collection of canal artifacts, artwork, books and papers. You can learn more about the Canal Society of New York State on their website:

The Canal Society of New York State collection of manuscripts, photographs and other artifacts were largely inaccessible until 2012 when the collection was for the first time stored under one roof at the Erie Canal Museum.

The Society owns a number of collections as well: Birdseye views of canal towns and cities of New York State: large lithographs, dating from the 1850s through 1900, with aerial views of 19th Century towns showing how the canals shaped their character.

We are working to digitize the Canal Society of New York State collection and make it more accessible to the public. You can find what we’ve done so far here.

The cataloging and digitizing project has been funded by grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Delmas Foundation and with support from the Canal Society of New York State.  

Collection Spotlight Spot

If you are interested in helping us care for and display our collection, you can donate to our Curatorial Fund.