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Erastus Corning II Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Corning, Erastus, 1909-1983.
Title: Erastus Corning II Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1843-1968
Bulk Dates: 1966-1968
Quantity: 4.5 linear ft.
Abstract: Papers of the American politician from New York. Collection relates primarily to the 1967 New York State Constitutional Convention.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Erastus Corning II (1909-1983) was an American politician from New York State. A great-grandson of Erastus Corning I, who had been elected mayor of Albany, NY four times; grandson of Erastus Corning, Jr., who had been an Alderman of the city; and son of Edwin Corning, who had been one of the founders of the Albany Democratic party, he was elected mayor eleven times, holding the position for 41 years.

Erastus Corning II was born on October 7, 1909 into one of the most socially and politically prominent families of Albany. He graduated from Yale (where he was a Phi Beta Kappa) in 1932 with a dual major in English and History, and shortly after married Elizabeth N. Platt. They had two children, Erastus III and Elizabeth. Corning and some friends founded Albany Associates, an insurance company, in 1932. However, he was asked to run for the New York State Assembly in 1936, and won. He later served in the New York State Senate (1937-1941) and was a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 1944, 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1972, and 1976. Besides serving as mayor of Albany from 1942-1983, he was a Director of the National Commercial Bank and the Union River Lumber Co. He served in the U. S. Army from 1944-1945 and was a member of the American Legion and VFW.

In 1966 he was elected Delegate to the 1967 New York State Constitutional Convention. He was a member of both the Committee on Intergovernmental Relations and the Committee on Local Government and Home Rule. Based on the volume of constituent correspondence dealing with it, the most controversial issue at the Convention was whether the Blaine Amendment (Art. IX, Sec. 3), which forbade state aid to private and parochial schools, should be repealed. Other issues before the Convention that year were the "Forever Wild" status of the Adirondacks, reapportionment, local powers, state finances, and lowering the voting age to 18. The delegates themselves were hoping to correct the increasing inflexibility of the constitution and decreased responsibility of the legislature. The Convention convened on April 4, 1967 at the State Capitol and continued for six months, but preparatory work was done by committees one or two years in advance. One hundred eighty-six delegates were elected on November 8, 1966 and the President, Anthony J. Travia, appointed committee members. The Committees proposed amendments to articles which were debated and either adopted or rejected. The amendments which were adopted were submitted to the voters for approval in November, 1967. The cost of the Convention was six million dollars.

The death of Mayor Corning on May 28, 1983 meant the end of a political dynasty lasting four generations. During his 41 years as mayor, Corning never desired a higher office. He once said "I early came to the conclusion that what's important to the people is important to me." [January, 1981, CBS Sunday Morning television program]

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Erastus Corning II Papers relates -- with one exception -- entirely to the New York State Constitutional Convention of 1967. It is divided into five series.

Family letter and pre-convention material contains informational booklets for delegates, committee reports and recommendations, rules, lists, maps, and other preliminary information. There is also one letter dated 1843, from Jabez Delano Hammond (1778-1855) to Erastus Corning I (1794-1872). Jabez Hammond was State Senator from 1817-1821 and author of The Political History of New York State.

Correspondence contains pre-convention correspondence as well as correspondence from constituents on particular articles and propositions to be considered at the Convention.

Committees consists of material from various advisory and related state and local committees, including Intergovernmental Relations, Natural Resources and Agriculture, Bill of Rights and Suffrage, State finances and taxation, and the Conference of Mayors.

Articles and propositions contains material on specific articles of the state Constitution and propositions for changes.

Miscellaneous includes proposed timetables, news releases and clippings, photographs of Erastus Corning II, and two poster board certificates of service on the Committee on Local Government and Home Rule and the Committee on Intergovernmental Relations, signed by Anthony J. Travia and members of each committee.

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Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is divided into five series, as listed above. Material within the series is in no particular order.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has many collections relating to politics, government, and public affairs. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

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Subject Headings


Allen, James E. (James Egert), 1896-1980.
Beame, Abraham D. (Abraham David), 1906-2001.
Bergan, Francis, 1902-1998.
Bridges, Earl J.
Campbell, Alan K.
Corning, Erastus, 1909-1983.
Drohan, William J.
Duryea, Perry B.
English, John F.
Gunning, Rosemary R.
Levin, Emil.
Lindsay, John V.
Lomenzo, John P.
Mankiewicz, Frank, 1924-2014.
Rubano, Charles F.
Shapiro, J. Irwin.
Stockmeister, Charles F.
Ughetta, Henry L.
Vanden Heuvel, William J. (William Jacobus), 1930-
Young, Fred.

Corporate Bodies

New York (State). -- Constitutional Convention (1967)
New York (State). -- Constitutional Convention (1967). -- Committee on Intergovernmental Relations


Constitutional conventions -- New York (State)


New York (State) -- Politics and government -- 1865-1950.

Genres and Forms


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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Erastus Corning II Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of the City of Albany, Office of the Mayor, 1968.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: KMP
Date: Apr 1984
Revision history:

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Family letter and pre-Convention information
Box 1 Letter from Jabez Delano Hammond to Erastus Corning I 1843
Box 1 Erastus Corning 2nd's certificate of election as delegate 12/15/1966
Box 1 Bibliographies for further reading
Information booklets for delegates
Box 1 Local Government and the 1967 Constitutional Convention
Box 1 Facts About Savings
Box 1 The Forest Preserve of New York State
Box 1 Vistas on the 1967 Constitutional Convention
Box 1 Constitutional Conventions in NYS
Box 1 Issues for the 1967 Constitutional Convention
Box 1 1967 Convention issues
Box 1 Toward an effective Convention
Box 1 Report to the NYS Legislature and Constitutional Convention concerning actions taken by the Association of Towns
Box 1 Constitutional Developments in NY 1958-1967
Box 1 The Constitutional Convention of 1967, background information
Box 1 NYS Fiscal Affairs and Debt Structure
Box 1 Constitutional Limitations on Municipal Debt
Box 1 Tax Limits of Communities, Cities and Villages 1963-1967
Box 1 The Integrated applied to State Agencies
Box 1 Conference on Metropolitan Cities June 5, 1967
Box 1 Real Estate Board of Central New York-Recommendations before the convention
Box 1 The Mayors' Task Force and the Constitutional Convention
Box 1 Educational Issues before the Constitutional Convention (Board of Regents proposals, etc.)
Box 1 Water Pollution (and State Government)
Box 1 Drafting and typing guide for delegates
Box 1 Parking map for delegates
Box 1 Resolution for a public accounting of Constitutional Convention expenditures
Box 1 Francis Bergan's remarks at the meeting of delegates January 25, 1967
Box 1 Mankiewicz's statements before the Constitutional Convention
Box 1 Ethics and the Constitutional Convention
Box 1 Rules of the 1967 NYS Constitutional Convention
Box 1 Lists of delegates and committee members
Box 2 Pre-Convention Correspondence - general
Box 2 Pre-Convention Correspondence - lobbying legislation
Constituent Correspondence
Box 2 Article I
Box 2 Articles V and VI
Box 2 Article VIII
Box 2 Article IX
Box 2 Article XIII
Box 2 Article XIV (Forever Wild)
Box 2 Proposition 100-A
Box 2 Proposition 773
Box 2 Proposition 1025
Box 2 Proposition 1075-A
Box 2 Proposition 1333
Box 2 Proposition 1335
Box 2 Proposition 1372-A
Box 2 Proposition 1382
Box 2 Proposition 1389
Box 2 Proposition 1390
Box 2 Banks
Box 2 Bill of Rights
Box 2 Free tuition at SUNY
Box 2 Gift or loan of State funds
Box 2 Judicial reorganization
Box 2 Lowering voting age to 18
Box 2 "NOW"
Box 2 Real estate tax limits
Box 2 Separate balloting on each amendment
Box 2 Social welfare proposals
Box 2 Miscellaneous
Box 2 Copies of letters sent by others to Anthony J. Travia
Box 2 Correspondence A-C
Box 2 Correspondence D-Q
Box 2 Correspondence R-S
Box 2 Correspondence T-Z
Box 2 Correspondence, miscellaneous
Box 2 Post-Convention Correspondence, October and November, 1967
Box 3 Article XI, Sec. 3-"Blaine Amendment" - for repeal
Box 4 Article XI, Sec. 3-"Blaine Amendment" - for retention
Box 5 Advisory Committee on the Constitutional Convention
Box 5 Temporary State Commission on the Constitutional Convention
Box 5 Bill of Rights and Suffrage
Box 5 Conference of Mayors
Box 5 Economic development
Box 5 Education
Box 5 Executive Branch
Box 5 Health, housing and social service
Intergovernmental relations
Box 5 Articles and propositions
Box 5 Memorandums
Box 5 Responsibilities
Box 5 Schedule of meetings
Box 5 Staff lists
Box 5 Sub-committee on Public Authorities
Box 5 Testimonies
Box 5 Judiciary
Box 5 Labor and industry
Box 5 Legislature and reapportionment
Box 5 Natural resources and agriculture
Local Government and Home Rule
Box 6 Agendas, schedules, presenters
Box 6 Articles (proposed)
Box 6 Background information for delegates
Box 6 Correspondence on Home Rule Provisions
Box 6 Memorandums
Box 6 Position papers
Box 6 Propositions
Box 6 Public hearing, Rochester, NY June 8, 1967
Box 6 Staff reports no. 1-8
Box 6 Sub-committee on local finance
Box 6 Testimonies
Box 6 State finances, taxation and expenditures
Articles and propositions
Box 7 Article I Public inspection of State records
Box 7 Article III Legislature
Box 7 Article VI Judicial districts (prop. 1100 and 1197)
Box 7 Article VII sec. 8 Gifts of loans of State funds
Box 7 Article VIII Local finances
Box 7 Article IX State and local powers
Box 7 Article X sec. 5 Interstate agreements
Box 7 Article XI sec. 3 Relationship of church and state (Blaine Amendment, prop. 1381)
Box 7 Article XIII sec. 13 County officers (prop. 1389)
Box 7 Article XIV Forever Wild
Box 7 Article XV Canals of NYS
Box 7 Article XVI Taxation (power)
Box 7 Calendar of propositions-summary of those introduced as of May 23, 1967
Box 7 Calendars of propositions 7/10/1967, 7/31/1967, 8/1/1967, 8/7/1967, 8/29/1967
Box 7 Bill of Rights 8/2/1967
Box 7 District attorneys and sheriffs (election and removal of) (see also article XIII)
Box 7 Legislature (see also Article III) 6/5/1967, 8/1/1967
Box 7 Local governments (see also articles VIII & IX) 6/12/1967
Box 7 Public Authorities 7/31/1967
Box 7 State finances 8/21/1967
Box 7 Suffrage (Article II) 6/5/1967
Box 7 Taxation (see also article XVI) 6/26/1967, 7/25/1967
Box 7 Article IV Governor and Lieutenant Governor
Box 7 Article V Election of Governor 6/26/1967
Box 7 Article VI Local courts 6/12/1967
Box 7 Article IX Local government 6/5/1967, 6/12/1967
Box 7 Article XIV Conservation 6/12/1967
Box 7 Proposition 1365 Powers of the Legislature
Box 7 Proposition 1373 (Articles I and VII)
Box 7 Proposition 1395-A
Box 8 Benediction by Rev. Lamar R. Bruner, Jr., 9/20/1967
Box 8 Proposed timetable of adjourning the Convention 9/22/1967
Box 8 Proposed Constitution of NYS 1967
Box 8 Resolution 114, submitting the Constitution to voters
Box 8 Citizens Public Expenditure Survey, Inc. The Albany Report and For your Information
Box 8 News releases
Box 8 Photograph of the delegates assembled
Box 8 Photographs of Erastus Corning II
Box 8 Newspaper clippings
Box 8 Albany City business (misc.)
Box 8 South Mail, Albany, NY, agreement between the city and New York State
Oversize cylinder
Oversize 1 Certificates for service at the Constitutional Convention of 1967 on both the Committee on Local Government and Home Rule and the Committee on Intergovernmental Relations - signed by committee members and Anthony J. Travia, president of the Convention

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