The Erie County Historical Society (ECHS) formed in 1903 as an organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the rich history of Erie County. In recent years, the scope of the organization has broadened to include adjacent regions such as Lake Erie and its maritime traditions.
ECHS is a merged organization, the result of the 2000 integration of the former Historical Society with its academic and preservation orientation and the old Erie Historical Museum, which traditionally provided museum and curatorial services.
The new organization provides educational services for preschool to adult audiences, museum experiences for the local community and tourists, and a publication program that includes an annual academic journal and more than twenty books in print. Our free and open-to-the-public library serves as an ongoing community resource for students, visiting scholars and members of the public who are conducting historical or genealogical research.
Three-dimensional collections feature relics of Erie’s storied past including original bits of the Brig Niagara, military relics, artifacts of early Erie and its settlement, and evidence of Erie’s industrial heritage. These collections and the archival resources of the Library & Archives are displayed regularly through permanent and temporary exhibitions.
Current administrative offices are located in the Erie County History Center at 419 State Street. The Society acquired the building and remodeled it to fit the organization’s needs in 1992.
The Society acquired other historic properties in the 1980s and 1990s. Miss Georgiana Read donated the Battles Museums of Rural Life to the Society in the 1980s, and the Watson-Curtze Mansion and Erie Planetarium were acquired during the 2000 merger. The Museum of Erie County History and its permanent exhibitions opened to the public in 2001.
We hope that you will take the time to visit us at any and all of our locations and encourage you to explore the rich heritage of our community.