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  • Wed, May 24, 2023 12:59 PM | Anonymous

    New & Noteworthy Collections

    There are several different kinds of archival collections at The History Center. Most consist of materials that document a particular history, such as letters of a local family, or business records of a local industry. Sometimes we receive something we call a research collection. These are compilations put together by a researcher who has studied a specific local topic and preserved the materials this work has generated. They often include copies of articles and notes, photographs and other reference materials that researchers rely on in their work.  These donations are very useful, because it helps us avoid the need to go over research ground that has already been well-trodden. And when the researcher is a noteworthy historian, then we are especially grateful.

    We just received a collection of such material from recently retired Tompkins County Historian Carol Kammen. She did extensive research over many years on women from Tompkins County and the surrounding area who served as nurses during the Civil War. Women such as Sophronia Bucklin from Ithaca, or Julia Cook from Dryden were pioneers in serving where women were often not wanted at a time when they were not allowed to work in the dangerous environment of a theater of war. Kammen's research materials include her notes on each of these women, highlighting the sources she used in her work. The collection also contains several books and articles that she relied upon as well.
    Carol Kammen was appointed as Tompkins County Historian in June 2000 and fostered local history through numerous projects and initiatives. She wrote several books on various aspects of the history of the county, including suffrage and the history of local African Americans. She founded and chaired the Municipal Historians of Tompkins County, an active and productive group who collaborated on many local history initiatives. She also served as co-chair of the Civil War Commemoration Commission, of the Tompkins County Bicentennial Commission, and in 2018 chair of the Tompkins County Historical Commission. She retired in 2022.

    For further questions or to make an appointment to visit the research library email
  • Wed, May 17, 2023 1:06 PM | Anonymous

    In April of 2022 The History Center was awarded $29,582 from the Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan grant program to significantly address the backlog in the archival processing of our oral history collections. Through significant work and time on the project from our transcription assistants paid through the grant, federal work study, volunteers, and The History Center staff we are thrilled to share the huge improvement in accessibility for this collection. 

    Transcripts were completed for 132 interviews in our collections. Including language translation for Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫˀ (Cayuga) language-keeper Stephen Henhawks 2018 interview, a 2006 interview with Nina Ebbs, a 2016 interview with Bob Nobles, completion of transcription for two large-scale projects recorded in collaboration with Cornell's Public History Initiative, in addition to dozens of others. 

    We also completed listing notes and Finding Aids for 12 oral history projects, and 7 thematic collections including: Searching for LGBTQ Community, Warmest Years on Record, Oral History of Holocaust Survivors Who Settled in Tompkins County, Stories of Immigration and many others. These will be available for preview at and as a reference catalogue in the Research Library. Community members interested in these collections and recordings may make an appointment in our archives to listen to any interview in our collection of over 200 narratives of local life, experience, and memory. 

    This was a huge undertaking and we are grateful and proud of Lauren Kessler, Julia Calagiavanni, Andrew Harding, Melanie Jalbert, Dan Motta, Blythe Van Ness, and Kethry Larsen for all their work on this project since last July!

  • Wed, May 10, 2023 12:48 PM | Anonymous

    History Center staff  Ben Sandberg, Cindy Kjellander-Cantu, and Zoë Van Nostrand attended the Museum Association of New York's  Annual Conference in Syracuse NY (Onǫdagehó:nǫˀ Territory (Onondaga)). This years theme was 'Finding Center: Access, Inclusion, Participation, and Engagement'. It included a range of panels and speakers that mirrored and inspired reflection on the work we've been doing at The History Center to prioritize highlighting and including previously under-represented histories and communities. We were excited to make connections with more than 500 museum professionals from across New York State, and discover many of them have visited in recent years and have been following the growth of the HistoryForge project!

    Our staff also loved discovering Tompkins County history connections as they explored Syracuse. From the 'Jerry Rescue' monument in Clinton Square featuring Jermain Loguen, who was one of the first pastors at the Ithaca St. James AME Zion Church, to noticing that the Everson Museum of Art building shared a striking resemblance to our own Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, because they were both designed by architect I.M.Pei in the late 1960's!

    Our thanks to MANY for curating such a powerful and inspiring conference!

    Some of our favorite panels and experiences included: 
    - Reimagining Public History with the Reframing History Toolkit @ Erie Canal Museum (Our staff HIGHLY recommend their new guided tours! Especially Pathway of Resistance)
    - The Northern Slavery Collective; How Museums and Historic Sites are Joining Forces to Collaborate on Interpreting the History of Enslavement (Video of panel)
    - Towards Inclusive Metadata (Publicly Accessible Toolkit)
    - Breaking Museum Rules to Create and Experience Participatory Democracy @ The Matilda Joslyn Gage Center (MJG loaned us their 'Haudenosaunee Influence on Women's Rights' exhibit in 2021 for Breaking Barriers; well worth a drive to Fayetteville to visit their museum!)

  • Fri, May 05, 2023 6:36 PM | Anonymous


    Learn more local history at

    Tompkins County's first recorded residents of Asian descent date to the mid 1800's. Immigrants from the Pacific Islands came in more limited numbers in the twentieth century.

    The first Asian business on record, a Chinese laundry opened by John and Mahong Lee as early as 1885, was located at 105 N. Aurora St in downtown Ithaca. Many early Asian residents came to the area to study at Cornell University, or to support family members and children studying at the college. Cornell’s first Japanese student, Kanaye Nagasawa (birth name Hikosuke Isonaga) was one of the first eight recorded Japanese individuals to come to the United States.

    President George H. W. Bush designated May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month on May 7, 1990, following the passage of Pub. L. 101-283 by Congress. This law also recognized the significance of May 7th and May 10th in the history of Asian and Pacific Islanders.

    #TompkinsHistory #AAPI #asianhistory #asianheritagemonth #pacificislander #asian #asianamerican #aapimonth

  • Fri, May 05, 2023 6:35 PM | Anonymous


    Learn more local history at

    The earliest record of Jewish settlement in Tompkins County is the grave of Morris Lubliner, who was buried in April 1856 in the city cemetery on University Avenue.

    By 1900 the Jewish population began to grow and become more established. Services were held in private homes and hired halls, with visiting rabbis. Congregation Chevra Kadisha began in 1906 in the home of Isidor Rocker, as a liberal group. Agudath Achim, an orthodox congregation, was organized in 1921, and the two groups combined in 1924 to form Congregation Beth-El. Both Jewish and Christian members of the community participated in fundraising for a temple. The B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation, which had decided to organize a chapter at Cornell, joined the effort and agreed to sponsor a rabbi for both the community and students. Temple Beth-El opened in 1929 at 402 N. Tioga St., with Rabbi Isidor Hoffman as its first rabbi.

    Jewish American Heritage Month began in 1980 with the passage of Pub. L. 96-237, which requested that the president designate a week in April or May as 'Jewish Heritage Week.' In 2006, President George W. Bush proclaimed the month of May as Jewish American Heritage Month to celebrate the history of Jewish Americans and provide opportunities to educate the public about Jewish culture.
    #TompkinsHistory #JewishAmericanHeritageMonth #JewishHeritageMonth #jewishhistory #jewishculture #ithacany #tompkinscounty

  • Wed, April 26, 2023 1:06 PM | Anonymous

    New & Noteworthy Collections

    Barbara Palmer Quick - Photograph Collection
    In 1980 a student in a Visual Anthropology class at Cornell was given an assignment to create an extended  portrait of a businesswoman in Ithaca. The result was an interesting and insightful album of photographs and text documenting the life and work of Barbara Palmer Quick, a hairdresser in Collegetown.

    Barbara went to Bethel Grove School, a one-room schoolhouse on Slaterville Road, and Ithaca High School, and later trained at the Bradford Academy, a Beauty School in New York City. After her schooling she began working for her mother-in-law at her beauty shop on College Avenue, and took over the business when she died.  Like many women in any era, Barbara learned how to juggle the competing needs of family (she raised her three sons) and work, and did it, to all appearances, with skill and aplomb. She was not only expert with her scissors, she was also adept at the logistical and financial management of her business. Family struggles and tragedies barely slowed her down, and she seemed to embrace the best of life, enjoying travel and the friendship and support of long-time customers and friends. 

    This sympathetic and thoughtful window into Barbara Quick's life and work is a vivid reminder of the often unseen and unsung service workers who buttress modern society.

    For further questions or to make an appointment to visit the research library email
  • Fri, April 07, 2023 2:08 PM | Anonymous

    History Center will be closed on Saturday May 6th - In honor of:

    The Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫˀ and Deyodi:ho:nǫˀ People and Tutelo Park
    May 6, 2023, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. @ Tutelo Park

    Hosted by Town of Ithaca with input from Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫˀ representatives as well as those from other Haudenosaunee nations. This program is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Tompkins County Tourism program. The Town’s Conservation Board is also a supporter.

    In 2008, there was a “Native American Homecoming Festival” at the park. This May 2023 event will offer new ways of thinking about Tutelo Park and will highlight layers of meaning that the land holds. Further, the event will serve as a prelude to adding features to Tutelo Park over the next few years."

  • Fri, April 07, 2023 2:06 PM | Anonymous

    Found ourself in stitches of fun in March, learning the basics of sewing machines with Librarian Cady Fontana at the Tompkins County Public  Library MakerSpace, and supporting over 100 fae folk during Spring Fairy Fest in making their own fairy quilts with us! We have more textile workshops, and quilting history programs on the horizon, we hope to have you join us!

    Upcoming Quilt Programs

    Thur - April 6th Introduction to Quilting: Mini Quilt Tops w/ Cady Fontana at the TCPL MakerSpace (Registration required)

    Thurs - April 13th - Quilted w/ Care 1996 Retrospective @ Tompkins Center - 4-5:30pm. Panelists include: Two Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance founders, Anne McLaughlin & Andi Gladstone; and Quilted with Care organizers Kristin Thompson & Brigid Hubberman.

    Weds - April 26th - CHAT - Is the Ithaca Kitty the first Calico Cat? @Tompkins Center 5:15-6:15pm

  • Fri, March 31, 2023 1:06 PM | Anonymous

    Request for Community Images at Ithaca Farmers Market for their 50th Celebration!

    2023 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Ithaca Farmers Market (IFM)! The Market is planning to showcase their history in photos, to recognize  our vendors and their years at market, and thank the community for their support over the decades. IFM has enjoyed a strong and loyal customer base that has helped vendors grow their farms and businesses and has made IFM one of the top markets in the state and one of the area's top tourism destinations.  

    To document this history, they are looking for Ithaca Market photos from the past through the present time.  We are planning to use photos in a variety of ways - to display at market, in our new cookbook, and in exhibits and permanent collections at The History Center and other locations later in the year.  

    Photographers Robyn Wishna and Allison Usavage have volunteered to curate the photo exhibit for the market to help us celebrate our 50th Anniversary. They have lots of great ideas for ways to showcase our market history, but we need your old Market photos to do it! 

    Look for pictures of you and your family shopping at any of our market locations, pictures of our vendors or their products, people enjoying lunch and the waterfront location, artisan creations, and photos of any of the events we’ve hosted over the years including the Rutabaga Curl!   

    If you would like to share your photos of the Ithaca Farmers Market over the years, you can upload them to our easy online form here:

    You can also email Monika Roth (, President of Friends of the Ithaca Farmers Market, to set up a time to drop them off in person (we will scan them and get them back to you). 

    Thank you for taking a look through your photo albums and collections!
  • Sat, March 11, 2023 6:13 PM | Anonymous


    The Rabakozi region is located in the western part of Hungary, between the Raba and the Danube Rivers. This Rabakozi folk embroidery style shows strong Renaissance and Ottoman influences. The earliest known examples are from the early 19th century. The designs usually show a bouquet of carnations standing in a so-called “Italian Jug” and flanked by peacocks. The carnations are presumed to be an Ottoman decorative motif, because they were not known in Europe before the Ottoman conquest and the subsequent cultural interaction. The flowers standing in a vase were traditionally part of church paintings depicting the Annunciation. Originally, this style was embroidered in muted colors with vegetable-dyed wool thread and, in some cases, monochrome red. When embroidering became common again in the late 1950s, the use of the red color was encouraged. The original embroideries decorated sheet edges. The rectangular pillowcase is a reinterpretation of the design for a decorative item suitable for a city home.


    In 2010 The History Center hosted the exhibit 'Hungarian Embroideries and Folk Art' from the collection of Hungarian-Ithaca Eniko Farkas. This exhibit included #matyo, #kalocsa, #sarkoz, #rabakozi, and #castle style embroideries. The texts developed for this 2010 exhibit are re-shared here as part of our ongoing #TextileTuesday learning series for the Knot Sew Fast: Patchwork of Tompkins County exhibit, on display February-August 2023.

    Original text was written by Eniko Farkas in collaboration with History Center staff. 

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Physical Address

Located inside the Tompkins Center for History & Culture

110 North Tioga Street

(On the Ithaca Commons) 

Ithaca NY, 14850 USA

Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫˀ Territory


Exhibit Hall Wednesday-Saturday 10am-5pm - CLOSED Sun-Tues

Cornell Local History Research Library & Archives - By appointment only. Please contact


Email: Refer to Contact page for individual emails, General inquiries to

Phone: 607-273-8284


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