Skip to main content

Our regional upstate New York history collection is designed to reflect the history of the state from our vantage point in the middle of the state and our situation along the Erie Canal. Because of this central location, the Special Collections Research Center was in an excellent position to gather documentation of national significance that would serve as a resource for the history of several regions in the state. The history of upstate New York unfolded as communities developed along the Hudson River and then the Mohawk River valley (and later the Erie Canal), extending both northward and westward. The presence of a major salt works in this area also accelerated the development of upstate New York. The commercial and cultural growth of the state followed first along these navigational routes and then penetrated the rest of its territory. Documentation concerning our regional history may be in many formats, but it tends to be books, newspapers, pamphlets, serials, broadsides, maps, and printed ephemera. Manuscript and printed business records and diaries also serve as important sources for the history of upstate New York and are collected when they are deemed appropriate. In spite of our central location, we have chosen to expand the scope of the collection to extend beyond just central New York. In keeping with clear precedents, our collecting sphere also includes the Finger Lakes, the Mohawk River Valley, the Adirondacks, the North Country, and the Thousand Islands. The time period involved extends from the 18th century to the present, but the majority of the documentation is from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Researchers of New York State History and Ephemera might also be interested in our collections of Activism and Social Reform.

Rare Books and Printed Materials

Examples of books in this subject area include Memoir, Prepared at the Request of a Committee of the Common Council of the City of New York: and Presented to the Mayor of the City, at the Celebration of the Completion of the New York Canals (New York: Printed by order of the Corporation of New York, 1825) by Cadwallader D. Colden; Abstract of the Argument on the Fugitive Slave Law, Made by Gerrit Smith, in Syracuse, June, 1852, on the Trial of Henry W. Allen, U.S. Deputy Marshal, for Kidnapping (Syracuse [N.Y.]: Printed at the Daily Journal office, [1852]); Adventures in the wilderness: or, Camp-Life in the Adirondacks (Boston: Fields, Osgood, 1869) by William H. H. Murray; A Sesqui-Centennial Souvenir Describing One Hundred and Fifty Years of Progress: with a Complete Story of the Sullivan Campaign of 1779 and a History of the Towns of the Finger Lakes Region Settled by Veterans of That Expedition (Auburn, N.Y.: Harry R. Melone, 1929) by Harry R. Melone; and Descriptive Guide to the Adirondacks, (Land of the Thousand Lakes) and to Saratoga Springs; Schroon Lake; Lakes Luzerne, George, and Champlain; the Ausable Chasm; the Thousand Islands; Massena Springs; and Trenton Falls (Syracuse, N.Y.: W. Gill, 1889) by Edwin R. Wallace.

Useful search terms to locate antiquarian books in the catalog include "fugitive slaves," "Erie Canal (N.Y.)," "Freemasons - New York (State)," "New York (State) - History," "New York (State) - Description and travel," "Local histories - United States - 20th century," and "Illustrated works - United States."

When searching the catalog, set a search limit to "Special Collections" to find materials located in the SCRC.

Search the Classic Catalog