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The Divisive Ditch: Early Perceptions of the Erie Canal

May 30 @ 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

$8 - $10
The Divisive Ditch: Early Perceptions of the Erie Canal

A Deeper Dive virtual lecture features Carol Sheriff, author of The Artificial River

Get your ticket now for The Divisive Ditch: Early Perceptions of the Erie Canal with Carol Sheriff, historian and author of The Artificial River. The online program will take place Saturday, May 30 at 1 p.m. Sheriff is the first guest in our new Deeper Dive Virtual Lecture series. Admission is $10 for the general public. If you are a Museum member, email to register. Preregister through the Shop page of our website to receive an email providing access to this secure event.


Carol Sheriff is a professor of History at William & Mary. She is the author of The Artificial River, The Erie Canal and the Paradoxes of Progress, 1817-1862. Sheriff will discuss the social and cultural history of the Erie Canal, focusing on what the original and enlarged canals meant to the everyday lives of individuals working and living along their banks. Even as the Erie Canal caused divisions in the state’s physical and human geography, it nonetheless drew middle-class New Yorkers together in what she calls “a culture of progress.” Sheriff will explore the ambivalence with which these New Yorkers responded to the artificial waterway. Even as they embraced it as a great work of progress, they also lamented what they saw as the cost of progress.


Sheriff won the Dixon Ryan Fox Prize from the New York State Historical Association for The Artificial River. She also wrote ‘Not the True Centennial’: The Politics of Erie Canal Celebrations, 1917-1926, which appeared in New York History. With Scott Reynolds Nelson, she wrote A People at War: Civilians and Soldiers in America’s Civil War, 1854-1877. She is a co-author of Mary Beth Norton, et al., A People and A Nation, a United States history textbook that recently appeared in its eleventh edition. She is currently working on a book tentatively titled ‘Not a Brother’s War’: America’s Embattled Textbooks, which examines how state-history textbooks have portrayed contested historical events from the 1860s through the present, and the grassroots activism they have provoked.


Be sure to join us at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 30 for this fascinating presentation!

In response to the COVID-19 crisis and to protect visitors, volunteers, and staff, the Museum is closed to the public until further notice. This online event is a great way to learn Canal history as we all do our part to stay safe and healthy. Until we open our doors, we are working diligently to serve you through these types of programs. We greatly appreciate your support as we face financial uncertainty. If you’d like to make a donation to the Museum, please click here.

The Erie Canal Museum is partially supported by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.


Erie Canal Museum
318 Erie Boulevard East
Syracuse, NY 13202 United States
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