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Erastus Corning II Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KMP
Date: Apr 1984

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 IX, Sec. 3), which forbade state aid to private and parochial schools, should be repealed.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]

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.

Arrangement of the Collection

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


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.

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.

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


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.

Table of Contents

Family letter and pre-Convention information



Articles and propositions


Oversize cylinder