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The Tompkins County Historian curates and preserves historic collections, documents, photographs, artifacts, and records owned by the Town that have importance to the founding and continuing growth of Tompkins County. The historian also researches, writes, and makes public presentations on aspects of town history, serving as a resource to the community. This position is not directly staffed by The History Center in Tompkins County but rather is employed by the county. 

The Tompkins County Historian has an office located beside the back entrance to the Local History Research Library within the Exhibit Hall.

**Please note the Tompkins County Historian is a SEPARATE entity from The History Center, although we collaborate often.**

Tompkins County Historian Office - Located INSIDE The History Center Exhibit Hall

110 N Tioga St (On the Ithaca Commons)

Ithaca NY14850

Contact by Email

Laura Johnson-Kelly

Tompkins County Historian from 2023-Present

Laura Johnson-Kelly has a bachelor's degree from Cornell University and a master's degree from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, both in Anthropology/Archaeology. She was Town Historian for the Town of Ithaca for 11 years and has been part of the Municipal Historians of Tompkins County group since 2004, with whom she collaborated to produce a local history book, Tompkins County, New York: Images of Work and Play (2009). She was appointed to the role of Tompkins County Historian in 2023

Laura has over 20 years of curatorial experience working with several different museum collections at Cornell University; she is also an experienced conservator, with skills in digital archives management. Laura has extensive program management skills and has planned lecture series, outreach programming at local schools, history-themed special events, and academic conferences.  She has a firm commitment to lifelong learning and has been active in a wide range of community organizations.  Laura has served on various local and state executive boards, including the Lake View Cemetery board and the NY State Archaeological Association (NYSAA).  She has been President of the Finger Lakes Chapter of the NYSAA since 2010, and (pre-covid) ran a monthly lecture series at Ithaca College which drew participants from all area colleges and universities, as well as a broad range of community members interested in learning about the past.


Tompkins County Historian from 2000-2022

A graduate of George Washington University, Kammen has taught local history at Ithaca High School, Tompkins-Cortland Community College, and Cornell University. Kammen has served as the Tompkins County Historian since 2000, but has been contributing published works and programs about Tompkins County history since the mid-1960's. 

AWARDS & HONORS: Regional Council of Historical Agencies Award of Merit, 1986, for The Peopling of Tompkins County, 1987, for On Doing Local History; Mary Washington College Center for Historic Preservation, award, 1989, for On Doing Local History; Tompkins County (NY) Award of Excellence, 1994; named New York State Local Historian of the Year, 2004–05; Herbert H. Lehman Prize, 2020.

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-6pm - 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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