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Exhibitions

We have several permanent exhibit installations:

Check out our children’s hands-on space Life in the 1890s. Put on period clothing, sit at Eightsquare School House desks and write on old slates, use an antique cash register. Learn about life in the late 19th century through play.

Familiar Faces is a wonderful collection of photographs of interesting people. Find Ithaca’s first African American policeman and Hungarian immigrants; a notorious murderer and Ezra Cornell; and many more, all offering a diverse look at the people who came before us in Tompkins County.

Our StoryA Timeline of Tompkins County History tells the story of the county from geological times to the 21st century in words and images.

Our Community celebrates the organizations and institutions that show the diversity of Tompkins County people at work and play, and in service to each other.

 

Media Folder

The History Center has a variety of permanent and rotating exhibitions.
We have several permanent exhibit installations:

Check out our children’s hands-on space Life in the 1890s. Put on period clothing, sit at Eightsquare School House desks and write on old slates, use an antique cash register. Learn about life in the late 19th century through play.

Familiar Faces is a wonderful collection of photographs of interesting people. Find Ithaca’s first African American policeman and Hungarian immigrants; a notorious murderer and Ezra Cornell; and many more, all offering a diverse look at the people who came before us in Tompkins County.

Our Story – A Timeline of Tompkins County History tells the story of the county from geological times to the 21st century in words and images. Click here to view "Our Story", a permanent exhibition highlighting a timeline of Tompkins County.

Our Community celebrates the organizations and institutions that show the diversity of Tompkins County people at work and play, and in service to each other.

Below you will find a sampling of past rotating exhibitions.

 

 

The Altered and Preserved Landscape:

May 5th, 2017 to September 9th, 2017

This exhibit by students at Tompkins Cortland Community College examines the local landscape and is part of the larger celebration of the 200-year anniversary of Tompkins County. The artworks explore the visual and functional conditions of Tompkins County over time by drawing on primary source materials from The History Center. What makes Tompkins County a unique place is answered, in part, by the growth and changes to the area through geological time, human activity and social conditions. Using contemporary and historical images and texts this show investigates two questions: Why does the county look like it does and from what era did certain built features originate. The projects were created by traveling back in time though rich documents including historical photographs, texts, letters and paintings in The History Center archives. In addition to research in the collections students went into the community to photograph and gather visual data, to investigate how the unique local landscape has impacted the development of the county. In all, the show offers a look at the altered and preserved landscape of Tompkins County and ultimately provides a few glimpses of what gives this wonderful area a sense of place. We thank the Tompkins County Bicentennial commission for their support, Rod Howe, Executive Director and Donna Eschenbrenner, Director of Archives and Research Services for their guidance, and Tompkins Cortland Community College for their encouragement of this year-long project.

Faculty:
Harry Littell
Keith Millman
Christine Shanks
Mark Grimm
Cynthia Kjellander-Cantú

The League of Women Voters:

In New York State the struggle for women’s suffrage was fought as early as the 1840s, and the New York State Women’s Suffrage Association was active throughout the state. Interestingly, Tompkins County women came late to the cause, only forming suffrage groups in the 1890s. One woman in Ithaca who fought for suffrage was New Jersey native Louisa Riley. Riley and her husband came to Ithaca in 1894 to be near her son who was attending Cornell. Disappointed that there wasn’t a suffrage organization in town, she collaborated with the State Suffrage Association when they worked to hold their annual convention here. She fostered the formation of the Ithaca Women’s Club, which had a suffrage “section.” Within a few years this splintered off to form its own group, the Political Study Club, and other local clubs formed in Newfield and Groton. From this modest start, Tompkins County women enthusiastically embraced the cause, and by 1915, when the state held a referendum to offer women the vote, few counties passed it. But in Tompkins it passed by 115 votes. Final success came across the state in 1917, and, in 1920, with the ratification of the 19th amendment to the Constitution, across the country.

Louisa Riley moved back to New Jersey in 1899 after her son finished at Cornell, but she remained honorary president of the Political Study Club until her death in 1917. Her legacy of activism and advocacy lives on in the work of the Tompkins County League of Women Voters.

View the online exhibition here.

Notable Women of Tompkins County:

For much of recorded history the lives and work of women have been omitted from the chronicles of our past. In the early 1980s that began to change when the week of March 8 was declared National Women’s History Week, and in 1987 Congress declared March National Women’s History Month in perpetuity. These efforts have encouraged the inclusion of women’s history in educational curriculums across the country. Historical literature on women has blossomed in the last thirty years as well, as this neglected subject is gradually addressed.

In honor of Women’s History Month the lives and work of nine notable women from Tompkins County’s past is celebrated here with images and text. A diverse group that includes physician Samantha Nivison, educators Martha Van Rensselaer and Emma Corinne Brown Galvin, and suffragist Louisa Riley, and more, these 19th and early 20th century women represent the best of a group that toiled in obscurity for the greater community.

View the online exhibition here.

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