Welcome! The History Center is requiring that all visitors continue to wear masks inside the Tompkins Center for History & Culture. Our visitors include young audiences and others who are unable to be vaccinated. We appreciate your respect and awareness in following our Health & Safety Protocols.
ORAL HISTORIES OF TOMPKINS COUNTY
The History Center in Tompkins County’s Oral History Program collects, preserves, and amplifies the stories of our local community.
Our work involves collecting oral histories with individual narrators, developing oral history projects, and training people in the skills of listening and asking questions. We also archive the oral history interviews collected in our Archival Collections. As of 2020 we have over 140 interviews in our archives, with more oral history initiatives planned for 2021.
We prioritize intergenerational opportunities, and projects in collaboration with historically marginalized groups and individuals in our community, working to amplify the voices of those who have not historically had prominence in our programs, exhibits, and collections.
Abner Abner Argueta was interviewed by our Youth Ambassadors in 2019 for the Gen 2 Gen Oral History Collection.
Youth Ambassadors Generation to Generation
Collecting and Sharing Stories
Ed & Michael Mazza were interviewed in 2019 by Katie Diehl to share memories of their grandfather Bruno Mazza the original owner of Ithaca Bakery.
Generation to Generation is an intergenerational Oral History Project at The History Center in Tompkins County that builds bridges between youth and adults in the community. Through this project, we explore topics relevant to the community, while preserving local history and making connections to our current lives. This program began in 2016.
For 2019's “Gen 2 Gen” program, we explored the history of immigration in Tompkins County by conducting interviews with people who have immigrated to the United States, live in Tompkins County, and own a restaurant or food-related business (or whose parents/families owned the business).
Visit The History Center Exhibit Hall to listen to stories from members of our community in the Story Vault; an interactive listening library of oral histories. Want to share your story? Use the touchscreen to record your own memories of Tompkins County during our open hours. No appointment needed!
The Story Vault contains short audio and video stories, and excerpts from longer oral histories. Visit the Research Library to listen to full oral history interviews. See a full list of our oral histories here.
SHARE YOUR STORY
Do you or a member of your family or community have a story to share about your experiences in our community? Contact us if you are interested in preserving your memories of Tompkins County for our oral history collections!
Abner Argueta interviewed in 2019
Help us transcribe oral histories! Each recorded interview needs a matching transcript to assist researchers and build our collection. Listen to the narratives of members of our community and help us preserve them.
Cornell Oral History Fellows 2020
The practice of recording and preserving memories and experiences, enables us to capture the wisdom of our living libraries before they pass away and “burn to the ground.” Oral histories provide a personal account of pivotal events from individuals who experienced them first hand.
Baldev & Kamaldeep Sekhon were interviewed in 2019.
Thanks to support from the two-year (2021-2022) "Building Capacity, Creating Sustainability, Growing Accessibility" grant from the Museum Association of New York and the Institute of Museum & Library Services, The History Center will be expanding virtual accessibility to our oral history collections.