THE HISTORY CENTER ARCHIVES
Whether for genealogical research, or to learn about your house, or any other aspect of local history, you will probably find something, in the Cornell Local History Research Library and Archival Collections.
We have over 2,000 family genealogy files, over 200 oral history interviews, 250 bound ledgers, 440 scrapbooks, 1,200 maps, more than 3,500 local history books, extensive manuscript collections, newspapers dating back to 1819, and dozens of regional photographic collections from as early as 1865.
Access to the archival collections is free to all Tompkins County residents, $10/day fee for out of county researchers.
In order to keep staff, volunteers, and visitors safe from Covid and other airborne viruses, researchers visiting our research library are strongly encouraged to wear a mask properly over their mouth and nose the entire time they are in our space.
What's in an Archive?
Watch our 'Archives 101' featuring our archivist Donna Eschenbrenner explaining our process for creating archival collections, and how those collections are then stored and used by researchers.
ON-GOING ARCHIVAL COLLECTIONS
It is easy to think of history as static, and archival collections as immutable snapshots of time. However, recent years have been filled with life-changing, and generation altering events, reminding of us history's continuous ebb and flow. As the keepers of Tompkins County's past we have found ourselves called to actively request reflections and feedback from our community to help us preserve our history for future generations.
In 2022 we began working with local environmental activists to document their long and arduous struggle to ban hydrofracking in New York State. We have so far received multiple donations of materials including banners, scientific reports, legislative records, photographs, signs, and much more. This is part of our ongoing effort to expand our holdings on local environmental issues.
Many of our archival collections reflect the essential nature of history as a living, continuous process. For more information, or to request an opportunity to donate to our archival collections please email email@example.com. Our archivist and Collections Committee reserve the right to accept or refuse donations according to the terms of our Collections Policy.
Archives & Library
Over 100,000 images - reprints available!
Built Environment Resources
We are always striving to make our collections more accessible, and these days that means we get a lot of questions about digital copies and online databases. We are moving towards digitization for some collections, such as our HistoryForge database of Ithaca census records from the 18th- 20th centuries; but digitizing any collection takes a lot of time and associated cost to ensure the collection is easily searchable. The Smithsonian Archives released an excellent interview with two of their expert archivists detailing some of the difficulties with digitization that you can read here.We have partnered with other local organizations, including the Tompkins County Public Library and the South Central Regional Library Council's New York Heritage to host some of our materials on their platforms:
We are eager to explore more opportunities to further these important initiatives to make our collections as accessible online as possible.
Please don't hesitate to reach out to us if you'd like more information about one of our collections but aren't able to visit our Research Library.
The History Center in Tompkins County is a local history museum and our collections are focused on preserving the material culture of Tompkins County. We can accept donations based on the following criteria:
If you're interested in donating physical items to our archival collections please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
1863 Civil War letter, The History Center in Tompkins County Archives
Checks can be mailed to:
The History Center in Tompkins County c/o Ben Sandberg
110 North Tioga Street 204 Suite A Ithaca NY 14850
Please explore the local Inclusive Recreation Resource Center's profile of our handicap accessibility here.
This profile includes detailed information regarding the physical layout of the Exhibit Hall and Research Library, and alternate methods for engaging with our exhibits and materials for individuals with impaired sight or hearing. Print out visitor guides and auditory visitor guides can be requested at the docent desk to the right of the front entrance to the Exhibit Hall.
We do not have a parking lot associated with our building, however visitors with physical and/or movement impairment are encouraged to contact us at email@example.com in advance, and when possible they may use one of two staff parking spaces by the back entrance of our building. These spaces may not be used without advance communication.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or feedback.