April 2020 - We've got a new newsletter look! Let us know how you like it!
A Message from Ben Sandberg

On behalf of everyone at The History Center, we hope our newsletter finds you and your families healthy and safe. Like each of you, the quickly evolving spread of COVID-19 has reshaped every aspect of The History Center in Tompkins County . We’ve had to cancel exciting programs, postpone and readjust exhibits, and adapt our finances to weather the sudden impacts and community change. Thankfully, our incredible board and staff have embraced our new world with ingenuity, flexibility, and a commitment to our local friends and family. They have exemplified the community characteristics that make Tompkins County so special. I cannot fully express my deep appreciation for the entire group of volunteers, staff, and community members who have supported the museum through this extraordinary time. Although its always important to express gratitude, it is more important now than ever before. Thank you to everyone who has offered advice and guidance, charitable contributions, and words of hope. We count ourselves lucky to have so many caring people here in Tompkins County.

Unfortunately, we are only beginning to understand the impacts of our current health and economic crises. Our friends at the Museum Association of New York (MANY) have been diligently working to understand these impacts on museums across the state, and advocate on our behalf. In blunt terms, museums face an uncertain future. In New York State, all museums are closed indefinitely, thousands of staff have been let go, and more will assuredly follow. At the national level, we have heard shocking estimates that up to 30% of American Museums will not be able to reopen after our current crisis has been resolved. The uncertainty of what comes next will have deep and dramatic impacts on our organization, our industry, and the arts as a field.

Right now, The History Center is able to navigate the immediate economic impact of closing our doors. We are indeed lucky to be able to continue our meaningful work, when so many around us are unable to do so. We are also so appreciative of all the inquiries from our community asking what people can do to support The History Center. Here is a brief list of actions you can take to ensure the longevity of your local history museum :

  • Support The History Center with a small monthly recurring donation
  • Have you visited us recently? Post a review of your experience on Facebook, TripAdvisor, and Yelp!
  • Follow The History Center in Tompkins County on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @tompkinshistory
  • Share The History Center’s digital resources with those who need them. We will be adding activities to our History at Home activity series for school age children every week. Contact Julia Taylor at eightsquare@thehistorycenter.net with any questions. 
  • Contact Ben Sandberg to book one of the event spaces in the Tompkins Center for History & Culture for your event later this year.
  • Download the PocketSights app to access over 40 self-guided walking and driving tours of Tompkins County! Practice responsible social distancing and share pictures from your experience with us!
  • Help us build our COVID-19 Impacts in Tompkins County Archival Collection. Send pictures, video, written reflections and more to Donna Eschenbrenner at archives@thehistorycenter.net
  • Help us enter Ithaca census records from the 20th century for our HistoryForge database project. Contact Eve Snyder at historyforge@thehistorycenter.net to learn more. 
  • Help us fill our “Breaking Barriers: The Lives & Livelihoods of Women” exhibits this summer by sending us your pictures of "Women Working" in Tompkins County and complete our “Why Vote?” digital ballot. These exhibits will be on display to the public later this year. Send items to Cindy Kjellander-Cantu at design@thehistorycenter.net

Your support – in its many shapes and sizes – will ensure our ability to successfully navigate the challenges ahead of all of us. We are privileged to have so many caring people in The History Center’s family. Stay safe, stay connected, and wash your hands!

With deep affection,
Ben Sandberg - Executive Director
The History Center in Tompkins County
HistoryForge from Home!

Looking for something history-related to do while social-distancing? Have you heard of our digital history project, HistoryForge ? HistoryForge combines historic maps and photos with census records of the people who lived in Ithaca, creating a unique way to visualize the history of Ithaca in the early 1900s.

Experienced HistoryForge volunteers are continuing to digitize census records from the 20th century for the HistoryForge database. We're hoping to finish the 1920 census very soon! Local volunteers have transcribed three complete censuses, 1900, 1910 and 1930. You can search them at the HistoryForge website now !

We are looking for additional volunteers to help us finish entering records from the 1920 US Census for Ithaca. We will be setting up virtual training sessions to train people on how to input records from home. Individuals, classrooms, or groups interested in this project should contact HistoryForge Project Coordinator Eve Snyder at historyforge@thehistorycenter.net.
The Museum Association of New York is working with the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and other museum associations to make the case for museums in this time of crisis. New York State's museums contribute $5.37 billion to the NYS economy and support over 61,000 jobs. Museums of all sizes and disciplines are closed. Everyone will experience extensive loss of earned income from restricted attendance and canceled events.

Please call your Congressional delegation today and ask for at least $4 billion for nonprofit museums in COVID-19 (coronavirus) economic relief legislation to provide emergency assistance through June. Learn more about the request and FAQ's here .


Representative for New York's 23rd congressional district
Since Jan 3, 2013 (next election in 2020)
Then & Now - Ithaca Journal Column - March 20th 2020
How Ithaca Responded to the Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918
By Donna Eschenbrenner
The History Center published this article in the Ithaca Journal in 2018, on the 100th anniversary of the Spanish influenza epidemic, and we have been asked to reissue it as people worldwide grapple with the dangers of coronavirus. In an effort to protect our staff, volunteers and patrons, The History Center is now closed, but we are still working to preserve and share local history.