Group at Gale place, Groton, NY, 1906. Photo by Verne Morton.
Photo from the collection of The History Center.
Capturing and Sharing Our Community Stories
Oral histories have been essential to the continuity of human cultures for thousands of years. As a predecessor to the written word, it was how younger generations learned about their culture's history ~ from origin stories to war stories for example, and also about the lives of individual family members. These stories and biographies fostered a sense of 'belonging' and encouraged youngsters to mentally record their own histories to eventually be passed on.
Today's modern society has seen the breakup of families, nationally as well as worldwide. Family members may not live in close proximity today as they once did, even several generations ago. Neighborhoods, once made up of specific ethnic groups, are dwindling as well. This makes it even more essential that oral histories are recorded and passed on. These stories also provide new opportunities for people to share their journeys as a way of making connections.
At The History Center we are dedicated to reviving and cataloguing this lost art, and place a great deal of value on sharing our stories. We all have a personal history, a story to share, and are all part of our community's collective history.
Our Oral History Workshop brings together experts in the community with local organizations who are interested in doing their own oral history projects with their specific constituents. Our Generation to Generation: Collecting and Sharing Stories program brings together seniors and teens in Tompkins County who collaborate in recording the elder's stories, thereby fostering cross-generational bonds that these individuals may not otherwise have access to in their own families.
The History Center has an on-going goal and commitment to connecting residents through 'knowing, learning, and discovering'!
Youth Education Director at The History Center in Tompkins County
Johnny Russo's East Hill Classic Jazz Band CD Fundraiser
|East Hill Classic Jazz Band. Photo provided.
The History Center in Tompkins County, in conjunction with members of the East Hill Classic Jazz Band, including co-directors Johnny Russo, Doug Robinson, Brian Earle, London McDaniel, et. al., have teamed up for an Ithaca Our Home: A Forty Year Musical Odyssey in Tompkins County project reflecting the run of this remarkable group in Ithaca and Tompkins County. It will include a book, which will have photos, remembrances by Johnny and the musicians, and a seventeen song CD of original songs with printed lyrics inspired by the community, institutions and business that nurtured and supported their long remarkable career. These songs include Aurora Street Blues, College Avenue Strut, and the Mystery of Taughannock with various photos of the band in action in diverse settings from the Ithaca Farmers Market, Cornell's Fraternity Row, Alumni Events to weddings and Carnegie Hall in 2003.
This project is expected to be ready by this summer, with The History Center benefiting from the proceeds of the sales. Though Johnny & the Band have donated all this material to benefit The History Center, there is a cost associated with the physical production. The goal is to raise $3,500. Please contribute by following this link or contacting Ksenia Ionova at 607-273-8284 Ext. 227, and if you would like to be noted as one of the supporters be sure to leave your name. If you would prefer to contribute by check you can make it out to The History Center in Tompkins County and note that it is to be used for the Russo CD project and mail to 401 E. State Street, Suite 100, Ithaca, NY 14850.
Thank you for your support!
Bookstore & Gift Shop Highlights
Mention our newsletter and get 15% off from this selected title!
Twice-Told Tales: History, Literature, and Family Lore Retold in Narrative Quilts, b
y Patty Elwin Davis
Through the art of quilts this publication tells "the narratives of interesting events and the literary and personal treasures" the author had gathered as a result of her extensive travelling.
Read a recent book review of Twice-Told Tales by Donna Eschenbrenner, Director of Archives at The History Center in Tompkins County.
In conjunction with the March 17th Tompkins County Railroad Bus Tour,
the following selected titles are on 15% SALE in March 2018!
(please mention the newsletter)
Lehigh Valley Memories: A Tour of the Lehigh Valley Railroad in New York's Finger Lakes Region, 1941-1959
Photo and text by David Marcham
Ride the trains and meet the men who run a picturesque segment of one mid-size Class I American railroad during two roller-coaster decades - the boom years of World War II, the shift from steam to diesel power, and ultimately the decline and abandonment of passenger service.
Ups & Downs of a Rural Line: Elmira, Cortland & Northern RR, 1867 to 1967 and on,
by David Marcham
In this history of the Elmira, Cortland & Northern Railroad, a Lehigh Valley Branch in Upstate New York, from 1867 to 1967 and since, the author lays out the extreme perils of the early years, highlighting the buccaneers who invested & gambled for power & profit. Includes 150 photos, timetables, rosters and track maps, orders & charts.
A History of Railroads in Tompkins County
By Hardy Cambell Lee
This illustrated history records a century and a half of colorful railroading, at the end of which only one line remains in the county, carrying long trains of coal to a Cayuga Lake power plant and of rock salt from an underground mine.
"Journey to the North; New York's Freedom Trail"
Through March 22, 2018
Journey to the North is a six panel traveling exhibit about the Underground Railroad. This exhibit uses the story of one fictitious character to convey the real events experienced by many freedom seekers (escaped slaves) during their journey to freedom. Much of the narrative is told from the point of view of Sarah, a fifteen year old fictional escaped slave. As visitors read the text they are challenged to imagine themselves in her situation and faced with her decisions.
This exhibit is owned by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Financial support for this opportunity was provided by the First Unitarian Society of Ithaca, Friends Center for Racial Justice and the First Baptist Church of Ithaca.
Main Gallery Exhibition
The Maps of Tompkins County
Maps are powerful and engaging forms of visual communication. They show us our world, and the myriad smaller places within it. Maps simplify, scale down, and organize what otherwise would be too large, too distant, or too complex to be seen.
Maps fulfill a multitude of functions, and are used for a variety of purposes. Political maps, railway maps, waterway maps, soil maps; from cross-sections of lake water depth to trolley routes; maps are irresistible and invaluable resources for learning about our environment in all its tremendous diversity.
This exhibit displays a sampling of The History Center's map collection from the 19th through the 21st centuries.
||Peter Webb & Phyllis Webb of Caroline, n.d. Photo from the Collection of The History Center.
Our Community Corner
The Webbs - A Tompkins County Family
In honor of our county's bicentennial in 2017 The History Center is celebrating one long-established family from Caroline, the Webbs and their descendants, who exemplify the strength, character, and dedication to family and community that highlight the best of Tompkins County. Peter and Phyllis Webb were both born into slavery sometime in the 1790s and brought to New York as children. Phyllis (she had no last name) was born in North Carolina. Peter Webb, who was born around 1792 in Virginia, was brought here by John James Speed, a slave merchant who settled in Caroline on Level Green Road. Through tremendous hard work and perseverance Peter bought his freedom in 1818; Phyllis would be freed when slavery was abolished in New York State in 1827.
This photograph exhibit tells the moving and enriching story of one family's triumph over extreme hardship and their prosperous and vibrant descendants.
Former Map Room
The Many Names of Fall Creek
Names tell a story. Known to the Cayugas as Nogaene, Fall Creek flows past Tompkins County places whose names acknowledge the many connections we have with the creek--from business success to technical triumph, and even personal tragedies.
The exhibition is co-sponsored by:
Tompkins County Bicentennial Commission
Names on the Land--Tompkins County
Exploring Tompkins County:
A Municipality Display Case
Town of Ithaca: Early Days
Exploring Tompkins County display is a collaboration between The History Center in Tompkins County and Tompkins County's municipal historians. This new exhibit samples artifacts of early Town of Ithaca. We thank David George, Town of Ithaca Historian, for providing his knowledge and time to create this unique exhibit. In
the photo: Town of Ithaca Board Minutes, 1821. Photo Courtesy of David George.
HistoryForge Data Entry Bee Party
Saturdays, March 17, April 14 & 28, 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
Tompkins County Railway Bus Tour
Saturday, March 17th, 1:00 PM to 5:30 PM
The History Center is working with David Rossiter to organize a bus tour of Tompkins County's past railway system. Tompkins County today is served by one railroad - the Norfolk Southern branch from Sayre PA to the AES Cayuga power station and the Cargill salt mines, both in Lansing. We will visit structures and railroad grades of this industrial past and present, from Trumansburg to Newfield (the ill-fated Pennsylvania & Sodus Bay railroad) to Willseyville (just over in Tioga County) to Freeville to Lansing. Spring Railway Tour Fee - $25.00. Please register by filling out an
online registration form
or contacting Ksenia Ionova at 607-273-8284 Ext. 227. The bus will start boarding at 1:15 and leave The History Center at 1:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be provided.
Rod Serling and Carl Sagan: Bridging Imagination and Science
Serling and Carl Sagan seamlessly bridged imagination and science and cultivated a sense of wonder. They had strong connections to Ithaca and this region. Panelists Anne
Serling and Nick Sagan will incorporate the personal sides of their respective fathers and be joined by Andrew Polak, President of the
Serling Memorial foundation. Moderator Mason Peck, Professor
of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University, will lead a facilitated discussion with all three panelists about these men and their views about the world as we explore how their legacies are relevant today. Their shared interests and passions will be highlighted. The program will delve into questions such as the interrelationships among science, imagination and culture. The goal is to leave attendees with a sense of hope. There is a long arc of integrating science into our daily lives. Where are we currently on that arc? Dialogue will be interspersed with video clips, images and quotes. There will be time for Q&A.
Nick Sagan and Anne
Serling will be available after the panel to sell and sign books in the lobby.
*To guarantee a seat you may pre-register prior to March 21 here.
Pre-registration Fees (online and in person through March 21, 2018):
Online ticketing fee: $16 general admission ($18 including the online registration service fee) / $13.25 for student and retirees ($14.90 including the online registration fee).
In-person fees: $18 general admission; $15 for students and retirees.
Ticket Fees after March 21, 2018:
Only in-person registration: $20 general admission; $17 for students and retirees.
**Please note that if you are buying tickets with a student/retiree discount, the ticket holders will be asked to show their IDs at the door.
This is a benefit for The History Center in Tompkins County.
The Association of Gravestone Studies (AGS) presents: The History of Art in the American Cemetery
Saturday, March 24, 2:00 PM (The William G. Pomeroy Foundation 492 E. Brighton Avenue (please use the side door) Syracuse, New York 1321)
The talk will cover the cultural and technological evolution of gravestone art from the colonial period of the present. Talk by Frank Calidonna, former President of AGS. Free and open to the public.
Capturing and Sharing Our Community Stories
Friday, March 30, 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM (at The History Center)
Are you or your organization interested in capturing and recording the stories of your local group members, or are you interested in capturing your individual family member's stories for generational posterity?
If so, please join us at The History Center for our Oral History Workshop on Friday, March 30th from 2:00 PM till 4:00 PM.
Attendees will have the opportunity to hear and engage with our panel of guest speakers including Brad Edmondson, noted local author and oral history consultant, Julia Corrice, Digital Services Librarian from the South Central Regional Library Council, and Elizabeth Bergman from the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute.
During this engaging and open discussion format, participants will learn specifics of how to entice, encourage and support their family members or constituents through the interview and recording process. For more information contact Youth Education Director Carole West at email@example.com or 607-273-8284 X229. To sign up for the workshop contact Ksenia Ionova at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-273-8284 X227.
Register for the Reading and Discussion Series: James Baldwin's America
The first reading and discussion will start on Tuesday, April 3rd, 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM at The History Center.
Schedule and Locations:
April 3rd, 17th and 24th, 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM (at The History Center, 401 East State Street, Suite 100, Ithaca, NY 14850)
April 10th, May 1st, and 8th, 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM (at the Hoyt Fuller room of Africana Studies and Research Center, 310 Triphammer Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850)
The History Center is pleased to offer James Baldwin's America, a reading and discussion series developed and sponsored by Humanities New York.
At The History Center and the Africana Studies and Research Center, participants will come together over the course of six sessions to discuss a variety of thematically linked texts with Eric Acree, Director of the Africana Library, Cornell University, who will be joined by Kimerly Cornish, Education and Outreach Coordinator, Office of Human Rights, and Marquis Bey, Ph. D. Candidate, Cornell University. Participants in James Baldwin's America will explore Baldwin's major essays, including Notes of A Native Son, Nobody Knows My Name, and The Fire Next Time, as well as much of his previously uncollected nonfiction.
To register, please fill out this
or contact Ksenia Ionova at 607-273-8284 Ext. 227 or email@example.com.
James Baldwin Film Series
Thursday, April 5, 6:30 PM (Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell, Multipurpose room)
"James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket"
This film uses striking archival footage to evoke Baldwin's formative years. (87 min.)
Thursday, May 3, 6:30 PM (Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell, Multipurpose room)
"I Am Not Your Negro"
Filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book about Medgar Evers. Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. that James Baldwin never finished. (94 min.)
Free to the public and free popcorn to the first 50 people!
First Friday Gallery Night: Sharing Our Stories
Friday, April 6, 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM (at The History Center)
In conjunction with First Friday Gallery Night and ongoing oral histories project, there will be a
6:00 PM presentation
Sharing Our Stories.
The History Center is committed to the idea of capturing and sharing the stories of our eclectic community. We feel it is important for older generations to make connections through sharing their stories and passing them on to younger generations, not only to archive family histories but to add to our collective community history as well. Please join Youth Education Director Carole West for this FFGN presentation to hear about the exciting Oral History programs that will be taking place this spring, and how family members of all ages can participate!
Thursday, April 12, 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM (at Tompkins County Public Library)
Join Tompkins County Historian Carol Kammen for these free monthly workshops on exploring and 'doing' local history.
Ithaca Heritage Tasting & Cocktail Tour
Join us on the Ithaca Heritage Tasting and Cocktail Tour, Saturday, April 14, 2:30 p.m.-5:00 p.m., for a visit to four historic Ithaca establishments. W
e've expanded on last year's wildly popular Ithaca Heritage Pub Crawl to offer a tasting menu in addition to the beverage sampling. Partnering this year with Ithaca is Foodies Culinary Tours. Learn the history of Ithaca's downtown buildings and the evolution of its vibrant culinary scene as we taste our way through Bar Argos, Mahogany Grill, Moosewood, and The Watershed.
Cost is $40 per person ($35 for students). Visit the Ithaca Heritage Tasting and Cocktail Tour web page (http://www.ithacaheritage.com/tasting-cocktail-tour/) to register. Register soon--spaces are limited.
Sponsored by Ithaca Marriott Downtown on the Commons, Whitham Planning & Design, and Tompkins County Tourism Program. Share this event on Facebook!
SAVE THE DATE: The Loneliness Project
Saturday, April 21, 2:00 PM (The History Center in Tompkins County)
Civic Ensemble, Cornell's Department of Performing and Media Arts, and The History Center in Tompkins County are proud to present four staged readings of The Loneliness Project.
This new documentary play uses interviews with LGBTIA+ youth and seniors to chronicle
the rich history of Chicago's LGBTQIA+ activist communities and to make sense of their fracturing over the past 20 years. This is a tale of fierce activism, profound loneliness, and remarkable resilience, The Loneliness Project employs the documentary method as not only a mode of artistic creation and preservation but also as a mode of collaborative problem-solving.
moment when recent legislative advancements may be in peril and urgent community needs continue to be overlooked, how do artists, activists, and organizers maintain focus on and respond to the most immediate needs of our communities?
Generation to Generation: Collecting and Sharing Stories
Tompkins County is a hub of vibrant community members who have many stories to tell! We are looking for interested elders for this year's Gen to Gen program who would like to share their stories with the community by having local teens interview them. These interviews will be archived at The History Center for future generations to access in order to learn about the history of the county in the 20th and early 21st centuries. If you would enjoy sharing your life experiences and wisdom with a high school student, and have lived a significant portion of your life in Tompkins County, this is the program for you! If you are a local teen who would like to know more about the history of Ithaca and Tompkins County from those who have lived it, this is the program for you! Here are a couple poignant comments from several participants:
"All of Bob's stories about his experiences as a prisoner of war...had a lot of impact on me".
"It was fun to exchange words and feelings with a...teenager, and I learned that it was easier for me to talk than to write".
This spring's program is scheduled to take place from early April until early June.
For more information and to find out how you can participate, contact: Youth Education Director Carole West, 607 273 8284 X229, firstname.lastname@example.org
We are Moving!
Wicker baskets have had a number of utilitarian and ornamental uses over the years. Some of the baskets in our collection have been used for such varied purposes as mail carriers, fruit receptacles, and sewing cases. This charming one doesn't seem to have had any purpose other than to delight the viewer.
It is being packed for our move and will be on display in our permanent exhibit at the new Tompkins Center for History and Culture.
Watch this space for more updates on packing our collection!