Community history is the history of people, places, events and activities in our region. The Library & Archives documents the history of people by collecting original documents which reveal the details of life in Erie County. Although our sister group, the Erie Society for Genealogical Research focuses on the history of family members and their relationships to one another, ECHS is also interested in biography. We are committed to telling the whole story, revealing the variety and texture of life in Erie County, based on verified fact.
An effort is made to collect papers which fit the local focus while documenting activity of regional and national significance. Although our primary emphasis is Erie County, we also collect history and biography from neighboring counties, western Pennsylvania and the Lake Erie region as they relate to Erie County. We are also interested in collecting oral and video histories of recent events and people, and Erie authors and imprints.
The purpose of the Library & Archives is to discover, select, collect, arrange, describe and make information available on the history of Erie County and its people to the public. ECHS is committed to preserving the original material for current and future generations.
Types of Records/Subjects
We collect family papers of all types, including genealogy and family collections documenting the lives of Erie County people, land settlement, community development, papers which document different ethnic groups and their activities, the underground railroad, immigration (letters of intent), women’s history, the Depression, war-related letters (War of 1812, the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, the Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War, Iraq War) and letters documenting the homefront, business and industry (ie. United Oil Company, Hammermill Paper Co., Erie Brewing Co., Marx Toys), cultural institutions (Erie Art Museum, Erie Civic Music Association), compassionate service organizations (Erie Chapter, American Red Cross, Ladies of the Golden Eagle), community leaders, Great Lakes Maritime history (focus on Lake Erie/Erie County), agriculture (oral histories on the grape industry), local architecture (study of significant buildings), transportation including the Erie Extension Canal, railroads, trolleys, the automobile, recreation and entertainment, and crime. Photographs are also collected in all of these areas.
Our collections exist in many different formats: published books, pamphlets, atlases, city directories, serials, typescripts, advertising art, lithographs and etchings, maps, architectural plans and drawings, primary documents including diaries and letters, account books, church and cemetery readings, WPA transcripts, manuscripts, business records, and records of Erie County government, paintings and drawings by local artists, photographs, and microfilm of many different records.
Holdings include 5,385 published volumes; 105 bound periodicals; 850 maps; 4,880 measured plans and drawings; 2,448 reels of microfilm; 183 linear feet of newspaper clippings, typescripts, and reports; 312,800 negatives, slides, stereoviews and prints. Archival collections total over 800 separate collections. Between 85-150 accessions are added on a yearly basis.