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Archives & Special Collections: Schenectady and the Erie Canal


The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 solidified Schenectady's position as the "gateway to the West." Aside from shaping the history of Schenectady, the Canal also shaped the history of Union College. The Becker Collection holds material that illuminates the historically intertwined relationships between the town of Schenectady, Union College, and the Erie Canal. The collection includes copies of historic maps of the Schenectady region and related documents.  Use these materials, along with entries from the Pearson diary, to investigate how the Erie Canal helped shape this era in Union's history. 

Primary Sources

Jonathon Pearson Diary Card File Index Binder (See: Special Collections on reference shelf)

Schenectady Co., N.Y. Board of Supervisors. Pathways of Progress: Schenectady County, founded 1809  [Schenectady County Board of Supervisors; Harold F. Lewis, chairman] [Schenectady, N.Y.: Schenectady County Board of Supervisors, 1959] [sch] F 127.527 S320 1959 (Only available in Special Collections)

Erie Canal Survey, Rotterdam showing Becker and Union College

Secondary Sources

Monroe, Joel H. Schenectady, Ancient and Modern: A Complete and Connected History of Schenectady from the Granting of the First Patent in 1661. Geneva, NY: Press of W.F. Humphrey, 1914.

Sheriff, Carol. The Artificial River: The Erie Canal and the Paradox of Progress, 1817-1862. New York: Hill and Wang: 1997.

Yates, Austin A. Schenectady County, New York: Its History to the Close of the Nineteenth Century. New York: New York.

"Celebrating 175 Years of the Erie Canal." Union College Magazine. Summer 2000. (Available in periodicals in the basement).

"Celebrating the Canal." Union College Magazine. Winter 2001. (Available in periodicals in the basement).