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History Center Program Connects Generations

Rod Howe

The series includes oral history and genealogy training sessions, connecting through photographs, plus tours and talks

The History Center in Tompkins County’s tag line is “generation to generation.” We know what that means to us as a generation-to-generation education and research center. But what does that mean to you in the context of our collective history? Tell us, as we would like to hear from you.

We have initiated the 2016 Generation to Generation series to offer multiple ways for you to engage with The History Center. The series is an invitation to Tompkins County residents to reflect on their place in this community, and their interactions and connections with multiple generations.

Our goal is simple: to promote dialogue among and between the generations. Local history provides interesting tools to do that.

At an April 6 event we were reminded that something as simple and ubiquitous as pancakes can unleash memories, historical narratives and create connections (thank you Paula Younger). There are many variations of pancakes, just as there are many histories and narratives in Tompkins County.

The simple topic of pancakes led us to: 1) explore the history of local pancake events; 2) a National Geographic story providing evidence that our prehistoric ancestors may have eaten pancakes; 3) interesting traditions involving pancakes from other countries; 4) books, movies and songs that have pancake themes and references; and 5) pancake art. There is also the fact that the former home of the Duncan Hines Institute, started in the 1950s by Ithaca businessman Roy Park and food pioneer Duncan Hines, is across the Street from The History Center (now the home of Argos Inn). One of their many products was a pancake mix.

The series provides an intentional focus on intergenerational connections, and will include oral history and genealogy training sessions, an intergenerational program on "Collecting and Sharing Stories through Maps and Photographs," a collaboration with the Dorothy Cotton Institute focused on social change within and across generations, exhibitions that encourage conversations across the life span, Eight Square Schoolhouse events, heritage tours and engagement with historic maps.

The invitation encourages you to use such opportunities, as well as local history topics and issues such as the Tommy Scout Plane, silent films, the Ithaca Kitty, historic buildings, changes to our landscapes, music, houses and industries and businesses. You, of course, may bring your own topics to research and explore. Please bring a sense of adventure and inquisitiveness when you come to our John Marcham Research Library, to the Eight Square Schoolhouse and when you travel around the county.

The generation to generation series has an additional suggestion: That, as much as possible, you explore the opportunities and local historical themes and topics with someone from a generation that is not your own. It can be a family member but it need not be.

If you do not know where to start, come in and we will ask you some questions to help you identify a research and education line of inquiry that fits your interests. Bring your co-researcher/co-learner generation partner with you.

Our archives are full of interesting materials with topics, themes and people waiting to be explored. Just as a focus on pancakes led us to discover interesting things about pancakes, your journey with your generation to generation partner, can lead you in multi-faceted directions. Those directions will take you to explore resources of our sister organizations such as Historic Ithaca, Ithaca Aviation Heritage Foundation, The Wharton Studio Museum, and Discovery Trail partners to name a few.

Check out The History Center's website for more information, www.thehistorycenter.net, and look at our new video about who we are and what we do. Be sure to visit our new exhibition, Come Play With Us: Early Toys from the Collection and bring someone from another generation.

If you do not receive our newsletter History Happenings contact Kayla Sewell at community@thehistorycenter.net or by phone at 607-273-8284, ext. 227.

Thank you to Travis Hyde Properties for being a sponsor of the 2016 Generation to Generation series.

Rod Howe is the Executive Director of The History Center in Tompkins County

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