Whatever you make of the fabric of life in St. Lawrence and the surrounding counties, you may very well have a class assignment that asks you to find out something about this region. As with many rural locales in the United States, finding information on St. Lawrence County can be a challenge. The purpose of this guide is to offer some suggestions about where to get started, and where to look in depth for materials related to life and people in New York’s northernmost counties.
The North Country: The Book Collection
We do not have a current comprehensive history of the North Country. We have a number of histories that would be very helpful for 19th century research in the F127 S2 range of shelving, which is in the Yellow Pipe Room in ODY. Two recommended current comprehensive histories of New York State are The Empire State a History of New York by Milton Klein (F119 .E48 2001) and The Nature of New York: An Environmental History of the Empire State by David Stradling (GF504.N7 S77 2010).
The Northern New York Historic Newspaper database is a project of the Northern New York Library Network to enhance access to regional history. The database makes searchable a collection of newspapers from Northern New York dating back to the early nineteenth century. It is available both from the SLU Libraries web site, and on the open web.
The Canton Plaindealer began publishing in the early nineteenth century, and the paper folded in 2019. It is the paper of record for Canton New York, and often reported on St. Lawrence University events. The library has a complete run on microfilm and in print. This is an important resource for research into cultural Northern New York, although without an index searching is cumbersome.
Newspapers, Current Events
The Watertown Times and the Plattsburgh Press Republican are the papers of record for the North Country. The SLU Libraries has an archive of the Watertown Times is available through the SLU Libraries online catalog, and the Plattsburgh Press Republican is archived in the Proquest Central database.
North Country Public Radio is an invaluable source for news report of and relevant to Northern New York. Their web site is available on the open web, contains much multi-media, and is searchable.
Vital economic and demographic statistics on St Lawrence County and the rest of the North Country are available through data.census.gov. Information is tabulated to both the county and census township level (that means, precise numbers). Guides for searching database are here.
For historical census information use Ancestry.com (from the SLU Library web site) for detailed renderings of the census in electronic format. These censuses provide not only information on individuals (their value to genealogists) but also speak to social questions through the questions census takers thought important. For tabular data from historical censuses use The United States Census history page (the first link on a Google search of a particular census).
Useful statistics for the North Country are available through statistical databases from such U.S. Government agencies as the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency. Labor Statistics from the New York State Bureau of Labor also provide useful socio-economic statistics for all of the counties of the Northern New York.
North Country Public Radio’s North Country at Work project provides fascinating insights into people and occupations at home in the North Country. This is not an exhaustive history of Northern New York, but it can provide a very useful specific information on how any number of things work in this part of New York.
The Adirondacks: The Book Collection
Our collection of books on the Adirondacks encompasses a number of titles on conservation, economics, and literature. These titles are accessible through our online catalog. A good starting point for understanding the literature of the Adirondacks is The Adirondack Reader edited by Paul Jamieson and Neal Burdick (F127.A2 A274 2009). Two recommended comprehensive histories of the Adirondack region are Contested Terrain: A New History of Nature and People in the Adirondacks by Philip G. Terrie (F127.A2 T43 1997), and The Adirondacks: A History of America's First Wilderness by Paul Schneider (F127.A2 S35 1997).
The Northern New York Historic Newspaper database is a project of the Northern New York Library Network to enhance access to regional history. The database makes searchable a collection of newspapers from the counties that make up the Adirondack Region dating back to the early nineteenth century. It is available both from the SLU Libraries web site, and on the open web.
Newspapers, Current Events
The Plattsburgh Press Republican and the Adirondack Daily Enterprise are the papers of record for the North Country. The Plattsburgh Press Republican is archived in the Proquest Central database. The Adirondack Daily Enterprise is archived in Northern New York Historical Newspapers and Proquest Central. Adirondack Life Magazine also covers major stories and events connected to the Adirondack Region. The SLU Libraries have Adirondack Life Magazine in print from 1970 to the present.
North Country Public Radio is an invaluable source for news report of and relevant to the Adirondack Region with an emphasis on conservation and cultural issues. Their web site is available on the open web, contains much multi-media, and is searchable.
Adirondack Park Agency
The Adirondack Park Agency is the custodian for the Adirondack Park. Much of the documentation they produce is available through the APA web site. Of particular note for student researchers, are the agency’s annual reports, Masterplan, and the Citizen’s Guide to Adirondack Park Agency Land Use Regulations. These are available in full through the Documents and Publications link on the APA web site.
Digging a Little Deeper
We do not have an index to the scholarly literature that is exclusively concerned with Adirondack region and North Country. The list below suggests which databases, those utilities for searching the scholarly and professional literature of various fields, are good matches for the type of assignments students undertake when researching the Adirondacks.
- Conservation, Adirondacks and United States—Environment Complete
- Conservation, public policy in United States and New York—Political Science Complete
- Alternative views on Adirondack culture, conservation, community—AltPressWatch
- Environmental Studies—The Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies
- Leisure and Recreation—SportDiscus
- Social issues and rural areas—SocIndex
- Literary Studies—Literary Reference Center
- Contemporary writers, poetry and short stories, Adirondacks—Blueline Review, the SLU Libraries have 1979-present in print
- Biology & Limnology--Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies, the SLU Libraries have 1994 to the present in print, and the journal is online complete.
- Biology & Limnology--Northeastern Naturalist, the SLU Libraries have 1997 to the present in print and in several databases.
- Rockwell Kent—Art and Architecture Complete
The Northern New York and the Adirondacks are a significant part of why we collect. These two collections define how our manuscript collection is unique. Provided here is not an exhaustive guide to our collections, but rather, an overview to some of the definitive collections, and collections that would be good starting off places for archival and primary source research on regional topics.
- Adirondack Collection
- The Adirondack Collection consists of booklets, publications and ephemeral material on Adirondack people, organizations, and places. Also included are series of photographs by Seneca Ray Stoddard and Edward Bierstadt, as well as other early photographers and a series of maps of the Adirondack region.
- Adirondack Park Agency Collection
- The first section consists of the papers of George D. Davis who served as Wildlife Ecologist for the Temporary State Commission on the Adirondacks. The second section of the Adirondack Park Agency Collection consists of clippings about the Adirondack Region, the Adirondack Park Agency and the Horizon Development planned for Colton, NY.
- North Country Boats and Boating Collection
- This collection seeks to document the activities of boat builders and boaters; both recreational and commercial. Specific emphasis on non-power craft built or popular in the Adirondacks and North Country, including canoes, kayaks, guide boats, skiffs, and sail boats.
- Paul Jamieson Papers
- This collection consists of files and correspondence with the Nature Conservatory, Adirondack Conservancy Committee, complete manuscripts and correspondence related to Jamieson's writings, documentation on waterways in the Adirondacks, and numerous files on environmental concerns with the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and Citizens to Save the Adirondack Park (CSAP)
- Cranberry Lake Collection
- The Cranberry Lake collection consists of notes and files of an historical nature on a number of different subjects related to the Cranberry Lake area compiled by Canton writer and publisher Atwood Manley.
Northern New York/St. Lawrence County
- Atwood Manley Papers
- The Atwood Manley Papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, notes, and tapes relating to the history of Canton and St. Lawrence University.
- Birdsfoot Farm Collection
- One of several collections related to agriculture in the North Country, this collection contains records and papers pertaining to Birdsfoot Farm. Within the collection, are meeting minutes, financial records, and land trust agreements (1988-2007), while Birdsfoot was founded in 1972, this collection mostly documents the activities from 1987 through 2007.
- Mabel Wait Diaries
- This collection is one of a number of collections that detail family life St. Lawrence County in the nineteenth century. Family papers from the region are a strength of the collection.
- Save the River Records
- Documents and correspondence related to the conservation of the St. Lawrence, and the daily business of the Save the River Foundation. The collection includes a large number of press clippings.
- S. L. Clark & Son Records
- One of several collections we have about a North Country business, this collection tells the story of a successful butter tub business in the late nineteenth century. The collection consists hundreds of letters, invoices, memos and other correspondence between various suppliers between 1896 and 1900.
- Benjamin Kip Glass Plate Negative Collection
- Approximately 500 photographic images (mostly glass plate negatives) documenting people and places, mostly in Canton, but also Potsdam, NY, from the 1890’s to the 1940’s
- Comstock Adirondack Postcard Collection
- This collection consists of approximately 3,000 postcards from the 1890’s through the 1950’s depicting scenes in the Adirondack Mountains region of New York State.
- North Country Glass Plate Negative Collection
- Collection of glass plate negatives by unknown photographer(s) depicting people, places, and activities in the North Country and Adirondack region of New York between 1895-1925.
- North Country Map Collection
- Nineteenth and twentieth century maps of New York State and the region drawn in a wide variety of formats and sizes for a wide variety of audiences.
- Van de Water Family Postcard Collection
- This collection consists of approximately 600 vintage and a few contemporary post cards of locations, destinations and points of interest around the Cranberry Lake area. Series two of the collection consists of vintage postcards of the Canton community, and series three postcard images of St. Lawrence University.
Other Libraries, Resources
- Adirondack Experience: The Museum at Blue Mountain Lake.
- “…most comprehensive repository of books, ephemera, manuscripts, maps and government documents relating to the history of the Adirondack region.” On the web, https://www.theadkx.org/education-research/library-research/.
- Saranac Free Library William Chapman White Memorial Adirondack Research Room
- A large collection of books, maps, periodicals, pamphlets, and, in particular, photographs. On the web, https://www.slfl.org/resources/adirondack-research-center.
- Antique Boat Museum Lou Smith Library and Marion Clayton Link Archives
- “…a vast collection of material relating to boating, boat building, engines and motors, and regional history.” On the web, https://www.abm.org/index.php/collections-2/submit-a-research-request/
- The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
- The DEC maintains information sites for all state parks, including detailed maps. State Parks in the North Country state parks are part of this collection, on the web, here https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7795.html.