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  • Wed, October 05, 2022 7:32 PM | Anonymous
    In 2020 The History Center along with 98 other museum partners across New York State was selected for a unique grant program 'Building Capacity, Creating Sustainability, Growing Accessibility' coordinated by the Museum Association of New York with funds from the Institute of Museum & Library Services

    The History Center used the technology and support systems provided to pursue a long-overdue review and updating of our archival systems for our oral history collections. As of 2020 our oral history files included over 150 recorded interviews, that number has since grown to 205. 

    Under this grant we completed over 40 transcripts for interviews, developed Archival Finding Aids for 9 distinct oral history projects, created a physical Reference Catalog for the 200+ interview collection housed in the Research Library, and began an on-going archival oral history transcript collection. This thorough listing and review of our collections also inspired the creation of our identity themed sub-collectionsAsian DiasporaBlack VoicesGender & SexualityIndigenous VoicesStories of Immigration, and Women's Voices as well as the Stop & Listen to HERstory Oral History Experience unveiled as part of the Breaking Barriers: Women's Lives & Livelihoods exhibit in 2021. 

    Our immense thanks to the volunteers and student workers who contributed to this project: Raia Gutman, Olivia Chaudhury, Sophia Shi, Kethry Larsen, and Lily Mueller.

    The work begun under this grant is now continued through the one-year 'Preserving Community Oral Histories' grant provided by the American Historical Association. These archives are available by appointment in our Research Library, contact

    Details on all our current grant projects can be found at

  • Wed, October 05, 2022 7:30 PM | Anonymous

    Completing just over 350 miles between Ben Sandberg's ride of 250.28 and History Center trustee Michael Smith's ride of 100 miles, Traverse Tompkins raised a phenomenal $13,368 in support of local history this year!

    This was our third year of Traverse Tompkins, and for a fundraiser that was first implemented during the early years of the pandemic, it's been wonderful to watch it grow. This year we raised nearly $2,500 more than in 2021, and also grew significantly in our number of individual donors. 

    With an astonishing 19 plus hours spent cycling this year, Ben thinks that 250 miles might be his 24-hour limit, but we hope to bring more cyclists in next year to help us expand Traverse Tompkins local history exploration even more! We've already got ideas brewing for next year, please reach out to if you'd like to join in (or even just send his your congratulations for a ride well done this year)!


    This article is from the October 2022 History Happenings Newsletter

  • Thu, September 15, 2022 1:24 PM | Anonymous

    Hispanic Heritage Month - September 15th - October 15th

    There were students from Latin America at Cornell University from the very beginning: a Brazilian student was part of the first group of students in 1868; Recruited by Geology Professor Charles Hartt, who traveled in Brazil, more Brazilian students arrived. In 1873 the Brazilian students published Aurora Brasileira a monthly newsletter written in Portuguese, and they established a Club Brasileiro.

    HistoryForge Ithaca shows steadily growing numbers of immigration from twenty Central and South American countries throughout the twentieth century. By searching the database using the "Race", "Mother Tongue", and "Place of Birth" filters on different census years you can learn about Latinx residents in the City of Ithaca. 

    Hispanic Heritage Month first began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage week under President Lyndon Johnson. President Ronald Reagan expanded the celebration to a full month in 1988 spanning from September 15th (anniversary of independence for: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua) to October 15th. According to the Library of Congress, “Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month* from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.”

    Learn more Hispanic and Latinx local history at Our thanks to our spring 2022 Exhibit Hall volunteer, Luis Valderrama, for their work translating our 'History at Home' learning and activity booklets into Spanish! 'All About Tommy' and 'The Ithaca Kitty' are now available for download and use in Spanish-speaking households and learning spaces in Tompkins County!

    Connect with our archivist to contribute to our collections documenting Hispanic and Latinx history in Tompkins County -
  • Thu, September 15, 2022 1:23 PM | Anonymous

    The Trumansburg Conservatory of Fine Arts (TCFA), founded in 1982, teaches students "in a range of  artistic endeavors," according to their website. The organization is housed in a beautiful historic Greek Revival building that was originally constructed as the Baptist Church of Ulysses, built in 1849.

    We have recently received the original building specifications of the church that describe the details of its construction. These specifications spell out the agreement between the Second Baptist Society of Ulysses and Daniel Elmore of Ulysses, contractor, regarding all aspects of the construction, including basic drawings of the frame of the building. It dates from an era before professional architects, when the master builder oversaw all aspects of the building craft, from conception to final product.

    Held for many years in the Conservatory offices, the TCFA Board of Trustees has determined that this important architectural information will be more accessible to researchers in The History Center's archives, and we are delighted to add it to our Town of Ulysses Collection.

    For more information please email

  • Wed, September 07, 2022 6:10 PM | Anonymous

    Summer Projects at The History Center...

    As engagement with local history on digital platforms has grown, we - along with others across the museum and arts field - have struggled with the long hours and high technical costs that go into digitizing our physical archives

    This summer thanks to the work of multiple high-school interns, student workers, and docents, community volunteers, and local historians we've continued on the long process of digitizing and improving accessibility to our local history collections as well as national archives on digital platforms. 

    This summer six Exhibit Hall workers transcribed over 380 pages through the Smithsonian Transcription Center; mostly contributing to digitization of the Freedmen's Bureau Papers, and 'Celebrating 175' collections. Our YES (Youth Employment Services) Teen Worker added five of our photograph collections to the platform HistoryPin. These collections have already been viewed by hundreds of people around the world! Our HistoryForge volunteers have made significant progress adding records to the HistoryForge Ithaca project and thanks to some very exciting grant news (read below!) are moving forward full steam ahead with the recently released 1950 census for the City of Ithaca. HistoryForge also recently completed the digitization of our Tompkins County Clock Maps to New York Heritage Digital Collections!

    One of our undergraduate summer interns transcribed a series of 20-50 year old pamphlets about historic buildings and businesses in Tompkins County. Our high school interns also continued the year-long process of adding verified subtitles to all videos and programs on our YouTube channel. Adding captions to our videos ensures that they are accessible and easier to engage with for more audiences. It's a slow process, but we've now transcribed over 90% of our videos! Our volunteers in the archives in collaboration with THC staff, completed over a dozen additional Archival Finding Aids for our boxed collections, continuing the project funded by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation last year.

    In addition the two part-time transcribers hired through our 'Preserving Community Oral Histories' grant from the American Historical Association in July have already made progress on dozens of interview transcripts from our Oral Histories of Tompkins County Collection in their first 8 weeks.

    THANK YOU TO ALL OF OUR SUMMER WORKERS! We still have volunteer, docent, and internship positions available for the fall term for all ages. 


    This article is from the September 2022 History Happenings newsletter

  • Sat, September 03, 2022 1:51 PM | Anonymous

    Save the date!

    Community Read on “Repair”:

    The Gayogo̱hóɁ People in the Cayuga Lake Region:

    A Brief History 

    (Kurt Jordan, associate professor of anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences)


    Friday, September 23, 3:30-5pm

    Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium | Klarman Hall | Cornell University


    Join the Society for the Humanities for a panel discussion with Kurt Jordan (Cornell University Anthropology), author of The Gayogohó:no˛Ɂ People in the Cayuga Lake Region: A Brief History, Sachem Sam George (Gayogohó:no˛Ɂ Nation), Steven Henhawk (Gayogohó:no˛Ɂ language teacher), and Jolene Rickard (Ska:rù:rę’/Tuscarora, associate professor of art and history of art at Cornell) followed by a public conversation / Q&A. The event will serve as a kick off for the Society’s 2022-23 theme of “Repair.” 

    Presented by the Society for the Humanities & the Rural Humanities Initiative


    Read with us!

    Pick up a free book in advance of the event from any of the following pick-up spots:

    • A.D. White House – 121 Presidents Drive, Cornell University
    • Cornell University American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program (AIISP) – 482 Caldwell Hall, Cornell University
    • The History Center in Tompkins County – 110 N Tioga St, Ithaca, NY (in the Commons)

    This event is FREE and open to the public.

    If you have questions or need accommodations to participate, please contact Alex (

  • Thu, September 01, 2022 1:23 PM | Anonymous


    Traverse Tompkins started in the fall of 2020 as a unique fundraiser to support The History Center in Tompkins County. Executive Director Benjamin Sandberg biked all around the county, live streaming videos exploring historical points of interest in each municipality. His challenge was to ride as many miles as possible in a single 24-hour period.

    This year we're expanding Traverse Tompkins and Facing historic Floods!

    In addition to Ben's 24-hour ride on September 24th (Sponsored in part by SERVPRO of Tompkins & Tioga Counties), we're asking more cyclists, runners, and riders to join our fundraising efforts! Riders can join sections of the route with Ben, or make their own path with the Facing Floods free roam PocketSights tour. Details on registering to 'Ride with Us' are on the Pledgeit platform. 

    As part of this community effort we are also seeking CITIZEN ARCHIVISTS to help expand our flood collections! From September 23rd - 26th, we're asking folks across Tompkins County to take  photographs of waterways and systems in Tompkins County. From your favorite lookout spot to the creek that travels through your neighborhood, we need the help of all citizen archivists in creating a photographic collection for future generations in Tompkins County! As our community faces more dramatic impacts of extreme weather, the landscape of our home will change, and change quickly. Contact if you'd like to participate as a classroom or community group!

    Join our team during the last weekend in September to preserve this moment in ecological time!

    Ben's 2022 ride is being sponsored by     of Tompkins & Tioga Counties.

  • Wed, August 17, 2022 12:24 PM | Anonymous


    For Immediate Release – 8/17/2022

    The History Center in Tompkins County

    Media Contact: Zoë Van Nostrand, Community Engagement Director

    (Ph.) (607) 273-8284 ext.229. (E.)

    The History Center in Tompkins County receives major award through the Digital Humanities Advancement Grant from The National Endowment for the Humanities.

    ITHACA, NY. – The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced a major award of $145,634.00 to The History Center in Tompkins County ( for their digital application HistoryForge: Mapping Census Data to Visualize Local History. In addition to this critical piece of funding, The History Center’s project earned additional recognition in the application process, and was selected to receive funding through the NEH’s A More Perfect Union initiative.

    The History Center in Tompkins County is excited to take the next development phase with the HistoryForge platform. This digital database synthesizes historical maps, census records, and other historical materials to create a dynamic platform for exploring local history. The digital application is free to use – anyone can explore it at During the previous project phase, The History Center transcribed City of Ithaca census records for 1900 – 1940, and expanded to Auburn (NY), Elmira (NY), and Oberlin (OH). Eve Snyder, HistoryForge project director and historian at The History Center, says

    “Support from the National Endowment for the Humanities ensures our ability to broaden our reach in Tompkins County and beyond. With it we will be able to expand our initial Ithaca project into all of Tompkins County, and install the project with more communities across the United States.

    HistoryForgeis one of 18 projects from across the country to be awarded a Digital Humanities Advancement Grant. In total, the National Endowment for the Humanities announced 226 projects receiving $31.5 million dollars across all grant programs. ““NEH is proud to support the many scholars, curators, storytellers, filmmakers, and teachers who are helping preserve, examine, and share the country’s rich and expansive history and culture,” said NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe (Navajo). “From books and documentaries to the preservation of cultural heritage materials, these 226 exceptional projects will foster the exchange of ideas and increase access to humanities knowledge, resources, and experiences.”

    If you are interested in joining the HistoryForge team as a volunteer, please reach out to Eve Snyder at

    About The History Center in Tompkins County:

    The History Center in Tompkins County is the local history museum located on The Commons in downtown Ithaca, NY. The museum and Research Library steward 400,000+ objects and materials in their collections on behalf of the public. You can keep up to date on all things history in the Finger Lakes through their social media channels @TompkinsHistory and website,

  • Fri, August 05, 2022 6:08 PM | Anonymous

    The Lehman Alternative Community School (LACS) was founded in 1974, "to be a genuine  alternative where students, staff and parents are directly involved in governance,...where students may study subjects of personal interest, and courses are available  which relate to contemporary issues in society....." The broader philosophy of the school reflects the administrative goal of letting students use freedom responsibly, and to make their own educational choices appropriate to their individual levels of development. One such student was Satya Rhodes-Conway, who was heavily involved with leadership roles at LACS when she was a student there in the 1980s and 1990s. She served on the school's Advisory Board and was involved in various administrative efforts, including  personnel decisions, and curriculum planning. She saved numerous records from her years there and her LACS papers were recently donated to our collections.  Satya Rhodes Conway is still a leader in her community; she is currently the Mayor of Madison, WI.

    This interesting collection of materials on the history of LACS can be seen in our Research Library. Contact for an appointment.
  • Thu, August 04, 2022 4:14 PM | Anonymous
    History Community Remembers the many Contributions of Lansing Historian Louise Pier Bement
    "Lansing Historian and teacher Louise Pier Bement died at the Ithaca Hospicare residence on June 30,  2022, attended by family and friends, after an extended illness. Louise was 89 and had lived in Lansing since 1969.

    Louise taught 4th grade in the Lansing elementary school for over 19 years. While teaching full-time and raising a family, Louise completed her master’s degree in Reading and Language Arts at Elmira College in 1972 and became certified to teach K-12 in New York State.

    “I never expected to teach in the elementary school and hadn’t the least idea how to do it, but a job was a job, so I sailed in and learned how as I taught.”

    During Louise’s teaching career, she and her students produced four books on the history of Lansing: The Portland Point Cement CompanyThe International Salt Company that was located on what is now Salt Point, Cayuga Lake, and The Cayuga Rock Salt Mine now operated by Cargill.  Louise was proud of the books written by her young students, which were packed with facts from primary sources.  She often referred to them when she gave talks about Lansing history.

    When Louise retired from teaching, she continued with her interest in local history. The Lansing archives consisted of many uncatalogued boxes of records that had been stored for many years in the historian’s barn before being transferred to an attic at the Lansing town hall. Louise said, “There might have been a historical society, but it had been inactive for a long time. When I needed to access the archives to work on the Portland Point book, I needed to climb a ladder into the attic of the town hall to access the material. The attic was either unbearably hot or cold depending upon the time of year.”

    Recognizing a need to preserve Lansing’s history, Louise asked the town to make her town historian. Later, as the archives grew, Louise convinced the town to build a proper archive building to house the collection and she helped create the Lansing Historical Society to catalog and curate it. The Lansing Historical Association was founded in 1988 when interested people got together to form a board. Louise liked having the town history organized. It is wonderful to have an archive building where the archives could easily be accessed by many people at once.

    Louise researched Lansing’s connections to the Underground Railroad and created a historical plaque identifying a house that she documented in a diary to have harbored runaway slaves. Rogues Harbor Inn received its historical landmark status due in large part to Louise’s research.

    The relocation and rehabilitation of the Field School, a forlorn one-room schoolhouse, was her crowning achievement. Leveraging every resource she could identify, Louise planned and orchestrated the relocation of the school house to a site at the Lansing town hall. The utility company raised overhead electrical wires so the building could pass under them. Louise’s optimism and belief in the project enchanted scores of volunteers, highway department workers, tradespeople, and her husband Bill, to donate their skills and time to move, rehabilitate, and furnish the Field School. Now a beloved Lansing historical treasure, the schoolhouse project would never have happened without Louise’s boundless faith and spirit."

    Read Full Obituary at Ithaca Voice
    Louise's books and other local history articles are preserved and available to the public in The History Center's Research Library & Archives.

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


Find us on social media @tompkinshistory


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