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Research Collections

Here is a brief overview of our archival collections. Whether for genealogical research, a school project, or to learn more about your house, you will probably find something in the Cornell Local Research Library and Thaler/Howell Archives.

Collection Overview

Archives & Library

Native Americans: Overview of  Holdings

Rural Heritage: Selection of Holdings

  • Genealogy Resources

  • 2000 family genealogy files
  • 250 bound ledgers
  • 440 scrapbooks
  • 1,100 maps 

Genealogy Resources

  • Death and marriage notices
  • Census records
  • Ithaca city directories 
  • Local history books

Photographic Collections

over 100,000 images - reprints available!

  • General photo collection
  • Family albums
  • Photograph albums
  • Local professional photographers' collections
  • Identified Individuals photograph collection
  • Stereoviews & cartes-de-visite
  • 35mm slide collection 

Built Environment Resources

  • 1866 Atlas of Tompkins County
  • Sanborn Insurance maps of Ithaca
  • 1836, 1851, 1868, 1872, and 1889 Ithaca City Maps
  • Historic Structure Reports and theses
  • Bird's Eye View of Ithaca
  • Military Tract Map and Balloting Book (1825)
  • Tompkins County Historic Maps Online

Digital Access

We are always striving to make our collections more accessible, and these days that means we get a lot of questions about digital copies and online databases. We are moving towards digitization for some collections, such as our HistoryForge database of Ithaca census records from the 19th and 20th centuries; but digitizing any collection takes a lot of time and associated cost to ensure the collection is easily searchable. The Smithsonian Archives released an excellent interview with two of their expert archivists detailing some of the difficulties with digitization that you can read here (https://siarchives.si.edu/blog/what-our-experts-want-you-know-about-digitization). 

We have partnered with other local organizations, including the Tompkins County Public Library and the South Central Regional Library Council's New York Heritage to host some of our materials on their platforms:

We are eager to explore more opportunities to further this important initiative to make our collections as accessible online as possible.

Please don't hesitate to reach out to us if you'd like more information about one of our collections but aren't yet able to visit our Research Library. 

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