Arnold Barben and his wife Helen Mosher Barben were longtime residents of Seneca Falls, where they were both actively involved in the local historical society and many other organizations. Their nephew, Mr. Hanna, donated the Barbens' extensive historical collection to the Canal Society of New York State, as much of it relates to canal history.
The collection originated with New York State's efforts to appraise the buildings and other properties that were to be impacted by the construction of the Barge Canal version of the Cayuga and Seneca Canal. The nearby Gould's Pump factory was the largest single damage award in the whole Barge Canal system when it was forced to move off "The Flats" that are now under Van Cleef Lake (along with the falls of Seneca Falls!).