History Happenings May 2016
The History Center's Electronic Newsletter 

Rod Howe | Executive Director | Director@TheHistoryCenter.net | Phone: x 222
Donna Eschenbrenner | Archivist | Archives@TheHistoryCenter.net | Phone: x 224

Carole West | Educator, Eight Square Schoolhouse | EightSquare@TheHistoryCenter.net | Phone: x 229

Kayla Sewell | Event Coordination & Visitor Services | Community@TheHistoryCenter.net | Phone: x 227

Karen Binder | Bookkeeper & Administrative Services | Admin@TheHistoryCenter.net | Phone: x 225 

Executive Director Corner
Dear Friends,
As part of our 2016 Generation to Generation series The History Center is taking steps toward collecting and archiving local oral histories so that there will be another layer of resources available for understanding the past and making links to current issues. We are in the process of learning and experimenting so that we ourselves are more engaged in collecting narratives but we are also interested in building the capacity of other organizations to conduct oral histories. We have been discovering an array of oral histories that have already occurred. We want to help ensure that they can be collected and archived for future generations.
It is clear to us that this is potentially a very big undertaking. If you have expertise in any of the many facets of oral histories and might be interested in volunteering some time please let us know.

The Value of Oral History by Kathryn Walbert
- Oral history allows you to learn about the perspectives of individuals who might not
  otherwise appear in the historical record
- Oral history allows you to compensate for the digital age.
- Oral history
allows you to learn different kinds of information.
- Oral history allows you to ask the questions you're interested in.
- Oral history
provides historical actors with an opportunity to tell their own stories in
  their own words.
- Oral history
provides a rich opportunity for human interaction.

Ithaca High School students Madeline Turner (Left) and Thea Clarkberg (Right) prepare and practice at The History Center for conducting oral history interviews. They are part of a pilot Generation to Generation program titled "Collecting & Sharing Stories through Maps & Photographs."

Rod Howe
Executive Director
Bookstore Highlight
Place Names of Tompkins County 
Have you ever wondered about the name of the street, or road, or region where you live? Why does it have that name? Why was it given that name? And, perhaps, who gave it that name?

The municipal historians of Tompkins County have collected a wealth of information that will help to answer these questions. Using the booklet first published in 1951 by W. Glenn Norris called The Origin of Place Names in Tompkins County as inspiration and starting point, they have created an interesting and useful collection of facts and stories about the names of the county - some geographical in origin, some whimsical, some very old, some continually being made up and given.

This book was chosen this month as the county prepares to celebrate its bicentennial.

Giving Is Gorges
Wednesday May 4th, 2016!

Support Our Fundraising Campaign
Exploring Tompkins County Through Maps & Landscapes

The History Center in Tompkins County uses historic 
maps and related resources to encourage the exploration of our county as a place that holds multiple narratives in city blocks, village main streets, and rural landscapes. We are focusing on an exciting new initiative - History Forge, which creates a dynamic web presence for integrating historical maps with information about buildings, people and businesses. We are in the process of incorporating data from censuses and city directories. History Forge, with multiple sources of information, creates a powerful matrix for creating historical narratives of our community. It will also make untapped information accessible.

We are designing a "proof of concept" model to test the feasibility of all aspects of the project from web development and database design to hosting census data entry "bees." A grant proposal will be submitted to the National Endowment for the Humanities with the goal of funding in 2017 to get to finished product.

But we need funding right now to continue our slow but steady pace of development. 

Dryden Mutual Insurance Company and its president, Bob Baxter, have provided enough seed money to get us started and we are deeply grateful to them. Additional sponsors will be greatly appreciated. You can get a sneak preview of the project website by clicking here.
History Forge is linked to a future exhibition being developed by Tompkins/Cortland Community College (TC3) students and faculty. The Altered Landscapes/Preserved Landscapes exhibition will engage county residents utilizing digital technology with the changing and/or preserved land, architecture, and transportation systems of the area. The exhibit will be an invitation to county residents to get out and explore the county and to tell us what landscapes they are most connected with and/or which landscapes in the county they are most concerned about.
History Forge and Altered Landscapes/Preserved Landscapes will complement one another and support explorations of this unique place.
Wednesday May 4th 2016 
Giving Is Gorges. All day. Anytime.  

Current Exhibition  
Come Play With Us 
Early Toys from the Collection
April 1 - August 20, 2016
Play is as natural to us as breathing. We begin playing with our first sight of a smiling face and wiggling fingers, and keep at it long after we are old enough to become parents and grandparents ourselves. Toys and games enhance our play, making it richer and more complex. This interactive exhibition features some of the many toys and games from The History Center's collections. Modern examples meant for hands-on exploration will accompany the artifacts to be featured. Photographs from the Sol Goldberg Collection will be on display as well, highlighting his whimsical portrayal of local people in their playful moments. This exhibition will examine the way play has changed - and stayed the same - over the years. It is a celebration of play and childhood, for the child in all of us.

On Display
Exploring Tompkins County
A Municipality Display Case 
This display case is a collaborative effort between The History Center and the municipal historians of Tompkins County. Currently on display is a history of the Cargill Rock Salt Mine in Lansing.

Content loaned by Louise Bement, Town of Lansing Historian.
Upcoming Events  
Spring Writes! Literary Festival Events
Sunday May 1, 2016 - See event titles and times below (at The History Center)      

Panel: Publishing Genre Fiction - 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Genre fiction can be defined as plot-based stories with specific roles, settings, and values that are fundamental to the reader's expectations. Meet with local genre authors, whose work spans from mystery to romance to sci-fi and beyond, and learn about the professional expectations of this multi-billion-dollar business that dominates the publishing industry.
Jen Bokal is the author of the best-selling and award winning ancient world historical romance, "The Gladiator's Mistress." JenniferBokal.com/wp 
Gigi Vernon is is a crime fiction author whose short stories have appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies. GigiVernon.com
Doreen Alsen
is both a choral conductor and writer, multi-published by The Wild Rose Press with seven books of her "At The End Zone" series. DoreenAlsen.com
Eric Griffith
is a tech/editor for PCMag.com by day, and writes sci-fi and fantasy books at night.
Reading: Poet Laureate John Hopper, and Fred Wilcox - 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM 
From NYC to Ithaca: Two Writers Read
From the 1960s to the present, Fred Wilcox and Jack Hopper (current Tompkins County Poet Laureate) have been swapping yarns and copies of each other's work. Now they reunite to read recent literary reincarnations -- Wilcox with new fiction, Hopper with poetry -- fifty years of a fine madness.  Jack Hopper is an editor and writer, mainly of poetry, and one of the founding editors of Cayuga Lake Books. He has three published collections, most recently "Doubles: Poems 1995-2012."  Fred A. Wilcox is a retired college professor. He has published poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.  JohnHopperAuthor.com FredWilcox.wordpress.com

Readings: Play Time - 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Join these authors as they read poetry and prose inspired by the theme of Play.  This reading is inspired by the exhibit "Early Toys from the Collection," an interactive exhibit featuring some of the many toys and games from The History Center in Tompkins County's collections. Photographs from the Sol Goldberg Collection will be on display as well, highlighting his whimsical portrayal of local people in their playful moments. 
Brenna Fitzgerald holds an M.F.A. in creative writing. She has published work in Creative Nonfiction, EcoChronicle Sonora, and The Ithaca Times.
Casey Martinson
is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine. His nonfiction has appeared online in RH Reality Check, Celebrities In Disgrace, and other blogs.
Jacob White, an assistant professor at Ithaca College, is the author of the story collection "Being Dead in South Carolina." His work has appeared in The Georgia Review, The Sewanee Review, Salt Hill, Cimarron Review.
Kathryn Henion's fiction has appeared in Saranac Review and Green Mountains Review, among others. She earned a Ph.D. from Binghamton University, was editor of Harpur Palate, and reads fiction for Drunken Boat. KathrynHenion.com 
For more about the Spring Writes! Literary Festival, including a full schedule of events, visit:


Ithaca College Environmental History Research Presentations
Wednesday May 4, 2016 - 7:00 to 9:00 PM (at The History Center)
Join us for a presentation of the work of Ithaca College environmental history students. With news of human-induced environmental change increasingly in the news, the latest installment of this history project offers insights into the historical relationship between people and the local environment.
Michael Smith, Associate Professor of History and Environmental Studies at Ithaca College, developed a course in environmental history requiring students to use local historical resources to study an event in the greater Ithaca area. It is his hope that students will develop a sense of "ecological citizenship" -- according to Professor Smith, an understanding of "community in the broader sense -- beyond the human connection."
As in past semesters, Professor Smith's students utilized the The History Center's archival collection for primary source material. Students have been working in teams on topics ranging from the environmental history of the historic flood of 1935, the role of the ice and coal industries in Ithaca, and the ways local urban planning following World War II emphasized automobility.
Four groups will present a synopsis of their findings followed by time for questions and answers on   Wednesday, May 4th at 7:00 PM  at The History Center.


Stories from Our Lives: Animals (Lifelong Senior Troupe presents Living History Theater)
Thursday May 5, 2016 - 5:30 to 7:00 PM (at The History Center)
This performance centers on the theme of "animals" featuring stories from the troupe's lives that are both humorous and serious. The Senior Citizen Theatre Troupe of Lifelong has been performing Living History Theatre for more then sixteen years. The troupe has performed for audiences that number from 15 to 350 people in many venues in Tompkins County and have been featured at statewide gerontology conferences. Directed and coordinated by Sue Perlgut, the troupe features, Fran Helmstadter, Eva Luby, Carol Santucci, Deirdre Silverman, Mark Silverman, Jean Senegas, Sandy Stein and Barbara West. The players are the characters, the scenery and props. The choral theatre is developed from themes that the actors pick and the stories they tell are from their lives.

For more information about the Senior Citizen Troupe of Lifelong you can contact Lifelong at 607-273-1511 or go to www.closetohomeproductions.com/seniortheatretroupe.html. This project is supported with grant support from the Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County.


May First Friday Gallery Night - Historical Society of Early American Decoration
Friday May 6, 2016 - 5:00 to 8:00 PM (at The History Center)
Join us for a First Friday Gallery Night with The Historical Society of Early American Decoration (HSEAD). HSEAD is non-profit 501(C)3 national organization with affiliated chapters whose mission is "to maintain a membership of participating guild artists who research, preserve, teach and produce historically authentic Early American Decoration." Join us for their demonstrations of early American decoration techniques. Visit their website for more information: http://hsead.org/


Jane's Walk: Living, Working and Playing in Downtown Ithaca
Saturday May 7, 2016 - 11:00AM to 12:30PM (meet inside The History Center) 
This year the Jane's Walk Festival is on May 6th, 7th and 8th! Learn more about Jane's Walks here: http://janeswalk.org/united-states/ithaca/ 
The History Center in Tompkins County and Ithaca Tours (with input from Historic Ithaca) will lead a walk focused on elements of living, working and playing in and around what we now know as the Commons, from both historical and current perspectives. The downtown area is the center of the county and holds narratives of individuals, institutions, organizations, business and civic life. It is often the "heart" of community celebrations and events. Historic structures, streets and alleys offer glimpses into understanding the lives of previous generations. We will explore what it means to be cognizant of the history of downtown while taking delight in what it offers to citizens and visitors today. The walk will leave from The History Center, circle the blocks around the Commons and then end on the Commons. 
The History of the Lansing Rock Salt Mine: 1916 - 1985
Saturday May 14, 2016 - 11:00 AM (at The History Center)
The rock salt mine was established when John Clute drilled a shaft to the 1500 ft. level. However, the salt he found at this level was of poor quality. This plus the lack of available workers, due to World War I, led Mr. Clute to commit suicide in 1918. In 1921, the Cayuga Rock Salt Company was formed by Frank Bolton. He sunk a shaft to the 2,000 ft. level and found better salt. Louise Bement, Town of Lansing Historian, will give a PowerPoint presentation on the history of the mine and talk about a project her fourth grade class did on the mine during the 1984-85 school year.


HistoryForge Transcription & Data Entry Bee (Volunteers Needed!)
Saturday May 14, 2016 - 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM (at The History Center)
Come volunteer at our next transcription bee on Saturday May 14th from 12:00pm to 2:00pm. If you want to participate, please contact Kayla Sewell at Community@TheHistoryCenter.net and plan on coming at 11:00am so training only needs to be done once. Light refreshments will be served with lots of fun and an educational opportunity that will make Ithaca history. Be sure to bring your laptop.


Online Genealogy 101: A Workshop with Bob Kibbee 
Saturday May 21, 2016 - 11:00 AM (at The History Center)  
Please RSVP: (607) 273-8284 x 227 or Community@TheHistoryCenter.net
This hour-and-a-half workshop is designed for people just beginning to explore online genealogy resources. We will introduce you to free and easily available material, but we'll also review some popular commercial products. Emphasis will be on how to find basic resources and using the US census and databases, such as Find-a-Grave effectively. We'll examine some genealogical software for storing your newly discovered information and look at how to connect to the larger genealogical world through online discussion lists and public trees. Please bring a laptop to work along with us, or feel free just to watch the demonstration. We only have limited seating, so please contact us to reserve a spot.

Asian-American Experiences in Tompkins County: An Oral History Event 

Saturday May 21, 2016 - 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM (at The History Center)
More details to come in our next installment of History


Moog Day: Celebrating Robert Moog in Trumansburg, New York
Sunday May 22, 2016 - 1:00 PM to 10:00 PM (Trumansburg, NY)

1:00 PM
   Historic Marker Dedication in front of Little Venice Restaurant
2:00 PM 
   Talks at the Ulysses Historical Society: "Moog in T'burg"
4:00 PM
   D.I.Y. Syntheszier Makers Event at the Ulysses Philomathic Library (First-come, first served        (ages 8 and older) 
5:30 to 8:30 PM 
   Moog music at Atlas Bowl from DJ Charcoal Heart & half-price bowling all night! 
6:00 to 10:00 PM 
   Moog music at the Rongovian Embassy

For more information, contact Michele Mitrani at mlmitrani@hotmail.com


Generation to Generation Oral History Capacity Building Series

Please RSVP for all events associated with the Oral History Capacity Building Series by emailing Community@TheHistoryCenter.net or calling (607) 273-8284 x 227.

Your Oral History Program - Making it Happen! - From Ideas to Actions  
Tuesday May 24, 2016 - 1:00 to 2:30 PM (at The History Center) 
Ramona will share her Vestal Historical Society Oral  History project by exploring the inspiration for the project through looking at several organizations current work. She will address possible grant funding, including the one that helped her program get started. She will share her Oral History project flyer, which was the very start of her work. Included in the workshop will be examples of all the forms you will need to use for an Oral History project and some sample questionnaires. You will leave with a solid list of research-able programs that will inspire and motivate your project. Ramona will also look at an example of a basic starter portable recorder and talk about best practices for recording, then possibilities for how to share those recordings.
Ramona Kacyvenski received her Bachelors in Art History from SUNY New Paltz in 2011. She has been passionate about art and history her whole life. Ramona has served as Director of the Vestal Museum since 2014 and a member of the Vestal Historical Society since 2013, Secretary since 2015. Her interest in Oral History stems from a deep desire to preserve the knowledge of her elders to educate the youth.
Sharing Our Stories: Collecting the Oral Histories of LGBT Older Adults
Tuesday June 28, 2016 - 1:00 to 2:30 PM (at The History Center)     
Lisa Holmes Director, Tompkins County Office for the Aging; Founder of Telling Our Stories: A Project of the Tompkins County Working Group on LGBT Aging 
From the Collection

These drums are among the oldest artifacts in The History Center's collection. Mrs. Burdette K. Northrup of Ithaca donated the drum on the left in 1946. It was used by Jeremiah Thatcher of West Danby, the donor's great-uncle, in the Civil War. He was a private in B Company, 6 th New York Artillery, and he served from January 1864 to August 1865. His parents moved from Warren County, New Jersey to Tompkins County in 1830, first to Newfield, and then later settled in West Danby. They had eight children, and Jeremiah, who was the oldest, was born in 1817. There is no record that he ever married, and he died in 1892. Their second son, John, born in 1819, had two children, Ida Louise, and Jeremiah B. Thatcher. This younger Jeremiah was the father of our donor, Mary Etta, who later married Burdette K. Northrup. The drum on the right is much older than the first. It was given to The History Center in 1992 by Arlene Brown of Groton. It was used by drum-major Samuel Brown in the War of 1812. The head of the drum is torn, and written on the wood inside is the notice "S. Brown's Drum, 88 th Regiment, 7 th Brigade." The History Center has records of a Samuel Brown born in 1789 in New Jersey, who married Margaret Bloom of Pennsylvania and then settled in Groton. They had ten children between the years 1811 and 1829, all of whom lived in Tompkins County. Samuel died in Groton in 1853, and Margaret in 1872.

Sources: DHS/THC Accession Records; THE THATCHER FAMILY; Brown Family Genealogy files.