Educator Talks

Please find below a list of talks offered by Director of Education & Public Programming Derrick Pratt.
To schedule a talk please contact Derrick at  The Erie Canal Museum is happy to offer Educator Talks by Zoom or Facebook Live, in addition to in person engagements.

Basics of the Erie Canal
Why was the Erie Canal built? How was it built? What happened with it once it was built? Where is it now? All these questions and more will be answered in this crash course on “Clinton’s Ditch.”

The Conception of the Erie Canal
While the Erie Canal took only 8 years to dig, getting to the point where people could start digging was a nearly 100 year long process. This talk looks at the early efforts to harness New York’s interior waterways and the political wrangling that almost kept the “Eighth Wonder of the World” from happening.

Pathway of Resistance: The Erie Canal and the Underground Railroad
This constantly evolving talk examines the experience of African-Americans along the Erie Canal Corridor, with a particular focus on the struggle for abolition. While parts of this story are unpleasant, slavery, racism, and resistance are critical to understanding our society today

Erie Eats: The Erie Canal Foodways Project
Food is the most basic building block of human life. We all need it to survive and thrive. But where does our food come from? How does it get to where we can eat it? Who decides what products will be available to us to eat? The answers to all of these questions, for people in Upstate New York and throughout the United States, were radically transformed by the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 and continued to change dramatically over the next 200 years as the Canal itself changed.

The Beer-ie Canal Was A-Risin’: Brewing on the Erie Canal
The Erie Canal was a transformative waterway for various industries along its route, including brewing, which flourished from Albany to Buffalo. This discussion examines the Canal’s beer boom in the 19th century and its new one in the 21st.

The Center of it All: Baseball on the Erie Canal
Discover the Erie Canal’s many connections to the earliest days of professional baseball, told through the stories of some of the game’s biggest stars and others long forgotten.

A City Yet
Learn how Syracuse emerged from a swampy crossroads community of 250 people to one of the crown jewels of the Erie Canal Corridor, in large part thanks to this transportation marvel.

Open for Business: 1820 on the Erie Canal
200 years ago, in 1820, the Middle Section of the Erie Canal opened for navigation between Montezuma and Utica. This momentous event transformed the State of New York, especially the 96 miles this stretch of canal passed through, including the swampy frontier crossroads community of Syracuse, now home of the Erie Canal Museum.

The Life and Times of DeWitt Clinton
From Clinton’s early life to his career in New York State politics, as well as the strong social and economic forces that fostered the idea of a man-made waterway throughout the Upstate New York frontier more than 200 years ago.

Oliver Wendell Petrie: Erie Canal Cook
Oliver Wendell Petrie, a native of Oswego, NY, served for 3 years as a cook on board an oil tanker moving along the modern Barge Canal. The Oliver Wendell Petrie collection at the Erie Canal Museum, consisting of many documents from Oliver’s time on the canals, including his recipe book, provides a unique look into the New York State Barge Canal and the late 1930s in general.

Buffalo v. Black Rock: The Western Terminus
Today we take for granted that Buffalo was the western end of the Erie Canal, but during the Erie Canal’s planning, that wasn’t so clear. Examine the debate that raged for years which almost made Black Rock, not Buffalo, New York’s Queen City.

No Place Like Home: Syracuse’s Weighlock Building
New York State once operated seven weighlocks on its extensive canal system in order to assess tolls and keep those canals functioning. Today, however, only one is still standing: Syracuse’s. Find out more about this fascinating building that now houses the Erie Canal Museum.

The Genesee Valley Canal

The Genesee Valley Canal was one of the more audacious canals constructed by New York State following the completion of the Erie Canal. Despite its relatively short lifespan and lack of financial success, it nonetheless had a transformative impact on the Genesee Valley.

About Derrick Pratt

Derrick Pratt Joins Staff as Museum EducatorDerrick Pratt is the Director of Education & Public Programming at the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse, NY. A native of Chittenango, NY, Derrick received a B.A in Social Studies Education from SUNY Cortland and a M.A. in Museum Studies from Syracuse University. Prior to his job at the Erie Canal Museum, Derrick served as Director of Programs at Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum for 3 years.