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Proprietors of Locks and Canals on the Merrimack River Collection

Library of the Proprietors of Locks and Canals on the Merrimack River

 map of Lowell canal system 1848

Map of Lowell Canal System in its final (1848) stage, from The power canals of Lowell,

MassachusettsLankton, L., Malone, P., & Van Buskirk, L. (1973). Human Services, Lowell, MA.

The Library of the Proprietors of Locks and Canals on the Merrimack (commonly referred to as the Locks and Canals Book Collection) contains reference works used in the construction, maintenance, and improvement of the Lowell Canal system, its mechanisms, as well as the hydroelectric plants that would come under the Proprietor’s purview. It is comprised of what would have been state-of-the-art professional engineering and architectural books and pamphlets, in English as well as French, dating from the 17th to the early 20th century. Subject areas include architecture, astronomy, civil engineering, law, mechanics, and physics with many of the tomes heavily illustrated. It also contains biographies of prominent Lowell figures as well as published sermons by clergy of the region. It is miraculous that this self-contained library, that served the informational needs of one of the oldest corporations in North America, has survived intact. Besides Lowell history, prospective use of these antiquarian books may be largely in the area of the history of engineering.        

From the Locks and Canals Library holdings

From Tall chimney construction. a practical treatise on theconstruction of tall chimney shafts, etc. [with Plates.] /Bancroft, Robert M, and Bancroft, Francis J. Manchester, 1885. From A text-book of field astronomy for engineers /Comstock, George C. New York, J. Wiley & Sons, 1902.


Location and metrics: Shelved on the 2nd floor of the Center for Lowell History, Mogan Cultural Center.

Primarily bound codex editions with 15 Hollinger Boxes (5" x" 9" x 12") containing pamphlets.

1,666 bound volumes.
80 standard shelves
240 linear feet 
12  Ranges​

53 Monographs cataloged in WorldCat