W. B. Strong residence with horse and carriage, Freeville, 1906.
Photo by Verne Morton from the Collection of The History Center.
The summer is a perfect time to go out and explore Tompkins County, whether it is hiking on our trails, exploring the Cayuga blueway trail, visiting a Discovery Trail site, participating in a Historic Ithaca "walk and talk," strolling around one of our villages or driving around one of the towns (updated town brochures at http://www.tompkinscountyny.gov/tc200/recognizing-our-municipalities which can serve as a guide). You can enjoy local music at multiple venues, find historic sign markers, eat local food and connect it to place, participate in the Pioneer Forest Walk or the Smith Woods walk, attend fairs and community celebrations, and learn about Juneteenth this weekend at Southside Community Center. It is truly amazing what is available right here in our corner of the world. So invite a friend and go out explore, engage and discover. The more you know about the history of Tompkins County, the more you are able to be a Tompkins County ambassador.
Bookstore & Gift Shop Highlights
*Items to be purchased in The History Center book store
Mention our newsletter and get 15% off from these selected titles!
Images of Rural Life-Photographs of Verne Morton
The book presents 246 photographs chosen from the Verne Morton Collection, capturing in fine detail rural and small-town life during the first forty years of the twentieth century.
"These photographs speak to us through time, showing how others have lived on this land. Through the seasons and years, Verne Morton recorded his family and neighbors at work and at ease, in school, and on the farm. Morton helps us see the differences between then and now, and he gives us a way to see continuity over time-of those things that are eternal."- Carol Kammen, Tompkins County Historian.
Great Possibilities: 150 Verne Morton Photographs
by Ronald E. Ostman, Harry Littell
Main Gallery Exhibit
||Tioga Street in 1920s and modern times. Photo montage from the Collection of The History Center.
The Altered and Preserved Landscape
On display from May 5th through September 9th, 2017
This exhibit by students from 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.
Italian-American Community Display
The History Center presents images and archival materials related to the Italian-American community in Tompkins County.
Italian immigrants have been settling in Tompkins County for over 100 years and have added immensely to the economic, civic, and cultural life of our area. Often from modest origins, Italian families frequently faced economic hardship and the prejudices of their new neighbors and co-workers as they became part of the life of the community. Through their experiences, good and bad, they retained a love of family, work, friends.
Eight Square Schoolhouse Grant Support
The History Center Education Department would like to extend a heartfelt "Thank You!" to several local organizations who have enhanced our programs at the Eight Square Schoolhouse this spring and summer!
The Ithaca College Student United Way granted us $400 so that we could purchase much-needed supplies for our Living History Program which serves all fourth grade students in ICSD, Trumansburg, and Newfield through Kids Discover the Trail.
Likewise, a grant of $2,800 from the Howland Foundation, through the Community Foundation of Tompkins County, will enable us to bring campers from the Southside Community Center to our "Digging Into Carrie's Diary" summer camp at the 8 Square Schoolhouse over several days in mid-July.
The quality, continuation, and expansion of programs at our historic one room school would not be possible this year without these generous grants!
The History Center has fun placing material on the changing banner at
If you are interested in learning about upcoming events and initiatives, you can simply scroll through the banner at the top of the homepage.
Celebrating Rural Heritage: Verne Morton's Photographs
|Rose Howe picking goldenrod, Groton, 1909. Photo from the Collection at The History Center.
Saturday, June 17th, 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM (at Dryden Mutual in Dryden)
As a prelude to Historic Ithaca's Old House Tour, Dryden Mutual Insurance Company, 12 Ellis Drive, Dryden, N.Y., will open at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 17. Bob Baxter, former CEO, will give a guided tour of the 150 exquisite Verne Morton photographs that line the hallways . For nearly 50 years local photographer Verne Morton (1868-1945) devoted himself to photographing Tompkins County rural and village life. Rod Howe, Executive Director, The History Center in Tompkins County, will provide a brief talk at 11:00 on Verne Morton and what his photographs convey of rural life in the first few decades of the twentieth century. There is no cost but RSVPs are encouraged by e-mailing email@example.com or via the registration page. This is the first event in the Celebrating Our Rural Heritage series made possible by a grant from the Tompkins County Tourism Program.
Path Through History Weekend
Saturday, June 17th - Sunday, June 18th, Finger Lakes Region
Create your own Path Through History, and experience special events celebrating New York's rich heritage at historically and culturally significant sites throughout the state. For more information, visit: paththroughhistory.iloveny.com.
The History Center in Tompkins County Annual Meeting
Monday, June 19th, 5:00 PM (at The History Center)
All are welcome to attend The History Center's annual meeting which will include a Tompkins County Bicentennial reading of "Nine Towns and a City," a review of highlights of the past year, an introduction of new trustees and recognizing trustees who are stepping down, and a look ahead to the next 12 months. This is an exciting time for the organization and we look forward to pausing in the present to reflect on the past and to gear up for the future. For further information, contact Community@TheHistoryCenter.net.
Heritage Ambassadors Inaugural Training Program
Starting Wednesday, June 21st, 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM (at The History Center)
The 2017 Heritage Ambassadors Pilot Training Program will run six consecutive weeks through July 26.
We seek to appoint all county residents as heritage ambassadors as we encourage family, friends and colleagues to visit Ithaca and Tompkins County. But being a Heritage Ambassador with capital letters will involve some extra time - studying, reading, exploring and questioning. We promise that it will be fun and interesting. Visit Ithaca Heritage to learn more or contact Rod Howe at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in the training.
HistoryForge Data Entry Bee Party
Saturday, June 24th, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM (at The History Center)
Come volunteer at our next transcription bee!
Light refreshments will be served with lots of fun and an educational opportunity that will make Ithaca history come alive. Be sure to bring your laptop. Sign up to volunteer here.
Book Talk "How to Read The History of the Five Indian Nations" with John Dixon
|Cadwallader Colden, 1849-52. Photo - Courtesy of www.metmuseum.org
Saturday, June 24th, 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM (at The History Center)
Cadwallader Colden (1688-1776) profoundly shaped the politics and culture of eighteenth-century New York. As a leading colonial statesman, he promoted British imperial expansion and defended the rights and privileges of the British Crown. As a scholar, he advanced American cartography, botany, medicine, natural history, physics, and moral philosophy. Colden's explanation of the cause of gravitation was printed in New York, London, Paris, and Hamburg in the 1740s and 1750s. His influential account of the Iroquois (or Haudenosaunee) confederacy, published in London in 1747, became a standard resource on Native American history.
The History of the Five Indian Nations is a fascinating but complex book. Far from unbiased, it reflects its author's own political interests, as well as the general imperial concerns of the eighteenth-century British nation. In his talk, John M. Dixon will situate Colden's important work in overlapping social, political, and cultural contexts. He will also explain how Colden and other eighteenth-century New Yorkers played a constitutive role in the Enlightenment.
John M. Dixon is Assistant Professor of History at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York, and the author of
The Enlightenment of Cadwallader Colden: Empire, Science, and Intellectual Culture in British New York.
Saturday, June 24th, 11:00 AM (at Ludlowville Park at the intersection of Ludlowville Road and Mill Street)
Learn about Ludlowville's Falls, Mills and Community. The event is provided by
For more information, visit: http://www.historicithaca.org/walk-and-talk/
Ithaca Pioneer Forest Walk
Saturday, July 1st, 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM (South Hill in Ithaca. Directions will be sent to registrants)
The first landowner was John Welch, who received his land (Ulysses Lot 86) for his military service - one of the few Revolutionary War soldiers in Tompkins County to settle on the lot he received from the federal government. A tour will be led by Eric Gervais, a local history researcher who is also a land steward on John Welch's historical lot.
The original farmhouse itself is privately owned, and the tour will focus more on remnants of pioneer life today on this land.
Eric wants the history of Ithaca's amazing forests to be better known. He has a wealth of information to share about frontier life and the local pioneers. To find out more, see his social media project @ithacatours.
This is the second event in the Celebrating Our Rural Heritage series made possible by a grant from the Tompkins County Tourism Program. Please register by e-mailing email@example.com or via the registration page. Tour capacity is limited to 25 people. More details will be sent to those who register.
The trailhead for the tour is on King Road, near Saunders Road, at the Michigan Hill historical marker. The trail connects to the Cornell Botanical Gardens lands, as well as Ithaca College's Natural Land.
Note: The 2 mile walking loop will be wet in areas (the area is known as the South Hill Swamp; driest route will be chosen).
First Friday Gallery Night: Presentation "Historic Water Powered Mills" by Walter J. Hollien
Friday, July 7th, 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM (at The History Center)
In conjunction with the First Friday Gallery Night and the current exhibition "The Altered and Preserved Landscape," The History Center will host a
6:00 PM presentation "Historic Water Powered Mills" by Walter J. Hollien, Preservation Architect.
The lecture will briefly discuss barns, which are a part of milling history as this is where the grain was stored and cleaned before it was brought to the mill. Mills were also the first automated buildings. We will discuss how the mill worked, the importance of the different types of millstones, the many inventions of different milling equipment as well as the prevailing superstitions in reference to mills and of course the invention of white bread. The tools of the miller and the tools of the millers' sideline occupations, as well as the tools of the millwright will be discussed.
Walter J. Hollien is a Preservation Architect and a Millwright and specializes in the restoration of Historic Water, Wind and Muscle Powered Mills.
Cayuga Heights and Sunset Park Walk and Talk
Saturday, July 8th, 11:00 AM
Saturday, July 15th, 11:00 AM - 12.30 PM (Smith Woods, across from the Trumansburg fair grounds)
Join The History Center for a guided walk around the historic Smith Woods, following up on a recent publication of "Smith Woods: The Environmental History of an Old Growth Forest in Central New York State."
Just outside the Village of Trumansburg, in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, is Henry A. Smith Woods, a 32-acre plot that is one of the largest remaining flat tracts of old growth forest in the area. This small but spectacular place, with its enormous trees, dense forest canopy, and never-plowed ground is a glimpse into the past. A walk through this small forested area may be the closest one can get in central New York to experiencing a landscape like the first Europeans encountered across most of the region in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
The authors of the recently published book Marvin Pritts (Professor, School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell University), Kurt Jordan (Assoc. Professor, Anthropology, Cornell University), and The Village of Trumansburg Historian S. K. List will lead the walk and talk about how this patch of land was preserved, what it can tell us about the human and pre-human history of the region, and its ecological importance.
Please register by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or via the registration page.
Details about logistics and parking will be sent to those who register.
Save the Date: 2017 WORLD CANALS CONFERENCE
September 24-28, 2017 (Marriott Syracuse Downtown | Syracuse, New York)
Our Vital Waterways: Agents of Transformation is a five-day world-class conference 200 years in the making. Celebrate the bicentennial of the Erie Canal and enjoy endless exploration of Central New York. For more information, visit http://wcc2017syracuse.com/.
Eight Square Schoolhouse Announcement
Summer Camps for Adults & Kids
Come Dig with Us! Archaeology Day Camp
August 5, 12, 19 & 26, 2017, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM (at the Eight Square Schoolhouse)
The History Center in Tompkins County is offering a field school to the public at the historic Eight Square Schoolhouse, a one-room school built in 1827 and used by generations of students and teachers. Participants will
learn archaeological field techniques and research skills by working side-by-side with several professional archaeologists; contribute to the historical record of the Eight Square School. Sign up for a day camp by emailing Carole West at EightSquare@Thehistorycenter.net. Learn more about the camp here.
Melanie Colter is a graduate student in Historic Preservation Planning at Cornell University with a focus in equity planning and adaptive reuse. She came to Ithaca in 2015 by way of Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she worked for the Albuquerque Museum. Previously, she worked for five years in the visual arts, digital media, and marketing in her home city of Indianapolis, Indiana. During that time, she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Herron School of Art and Design at Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). As the 2017 Stuart Stein Heritage Tourism intern, she is engaged with enhancing and developing historical walking tours, sponsored by the Heritage Tourism Network, on the new digital platform, Pocket Sights.
From the Collection
||Mashers. Photo from the Collection of The History Center.
Early settlers used what was at hand to fashion the tools they needed. Wood was abundant and was used for all manner of kitchen implements. These mashers look very ordinary, but show many patterns. The large one, in the back with the flat head, was the butter tamp, used for pounding butter into butter boxes and tubs. The others were for preparing food. It is likely these were made in our area because of their simplicity. Those made in Pennsylvania included more decoration.
Fundamentally, wood ware (or treen ware, as it was called, from treen, the plural of tree) was constructed with primitive tools for simple ways of living. In the 20th century, as metal tools became more available, these mashers began to be displaced by more modern counterparts.
Thank You for Supporting Us!
Please consider making a donation as we close out our current fiscal year:
A new course has been set for the organization as we prepare for a move to the Tompkins Trust Company bank building on the Ithaca Commons and co-locate with partners at the end of 2018. This exciting news sets the stage for the next phase of the history of The History Center in Tompkins County. While we are thrilled to begin this new and rewarding venture, we remain dedicated to providing our community with innovative and educational exhibits and programming today.
Since you receive our newsletter you are aware of all that we offer. We are energized by all that local history incorporates. Every day we work to help people use the tools of history to understand the past, gain perspective on the present, and play an informed role in shaping the future. We rely on your support to ensure these quality programs are ongoing every month and every week! While it is no secret that we are gearing up for a capital campaign to support the new center, we have many opportunities before then to present fascinating material relevant to historical interests, anniversaries, and topics.