The Erie County Historical Society is located at 419 State Street, Erie, Pennsylvania. Their website is http://www.eriecountyhistory.org .The ECHS Library & Archives, situated on the second floor, houses the society’s comprehensive collection of original documents related to the community history of Erie County and, to a lesser extent, surrounding areas in Northwestern Pennsylvania and Northwestern New York. Its mission is to collect, preserve, and make available, papers which reveal the details of life in Erie County, based on verified fact. The library is currently in possession of over 800 separate collections and typically makes between 85–150 acquisitions each year.
The holdings take up more than 5,000 linear feet of shelf space in the State Street facility and are in a wide array of formats: 5,385 published volumes; 105 bound periodicals; 850 maps; 4,880 measured plans and drawings; 2, 448 microfilm rolls; 183 linear feet of newspaper clippings, typescripts, and reports; and 312,800 photographic images in the form of negatives, slides, stereoviews, and prints. Many of the collections are related to prominent Erie County families as well as early pioneer families whose papers and original manuscripts are rich with historical detail that would be of interest to anyone seeking genealogical or historical knowledge of Erie County and the Lake Erie region. Other collections relate to immigration, local industry, and civic development.
The library has a reading room with seating for about 25 patrons who are free to browse the society’s expansive non-circulating collection of historical and biographical titles as well as other genealogical references including county directories, census and cemetery records, and compiled genealogies.The reading room is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday 11a.m. to 4p.m. excluding holidays and the society’s archivist and research assistants are available during those hours to answer questions and retrieve archival items. There is a $7/day fee for non–members, but members of either the ECHS or the society’s sister organization, the Erie Society for Genealogical Research (ESGR), are admitted at no charge whenever the library is open. Patrons have access to a card catalog of the Library’s holdings, as well as a special card file of surnames that has been assembled by the ESGR. During library hours, an ESGR member is often available to answer questions about their records, or for more information, you can contact them at their website. At this time there is no online index of the Library’s holdings, however the ECHS is in the process of developing a computerized index using a software named Past Perfect, which they expect visitors will have access to in the future. In the meantime, visitors need to rely on the archivist’s help to locate manuscripts, but the staff is quite knowledgeable and always eager to help patrons with their quest. When you visit, be sure to bring quarters as the closest parking is street/metered, although several fee based parking garages are a short walk away.