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  • Wed, May 22, 2024 10:49 PM | Anonymous
    Last Month at The History Center

    Our director Ben Sandberg traveled to Albany the first weekend of April for the annual Museum Association of New York conference - this year's theme "Giving Voice to Value". It is validating for our staff to see and experience museum staff from across New York working through and tackling similar questions and solution-seeking to the work we do here at home. The work of finding funding, meeting audience expectations and interests, and the long work of how museums can be part of historical repair, reparations, and community building. Ben came home full of new ideas! Even more exciting next year MANY's conference is being hosted IN ITHACA NY! Mark your calendars for April 5-8th 2025. 

    Our thanks to the organizers of Firebrand Books Historic Marker Fundraiser - their campaign was hugely successful! The funds raised over the amount to fund the installation of a permanent marker documenting the historic importance of Firebrand Books, has been promised to The History Center to help with our archival processing and preservation of LGBTQ histories in Tompkins County. If you want to further support these efforts, you can make additional donations at - just specify "Firebrand" in the submission notes. 
    Ushering in the New York State Parks Centennial anniversary celebration, a new exhibit honoring the legacy Robert H. Treman was unveiled in the Tompkins Center for History & Culture atrium tower. An important figure in the creation of our park and historic site system, Treman was a banker and conservationist who donated hundreds of acres of land for preservation. Ultimately serving as the very first Finger Lakes Regional Commissioner, he oversaw the creation of several state parks including Fillmore Glen, Cayuga Lake, and Fair Haven Beach.

  • Tue, March 26, 2024 7:23 PM | Anonymous

    This newsletter was researched and compiled by the staff of the Hangar Theatre and first shared to their email lists on March 19th 2024. It is shared here with their permission. The Hangar will be highlighting their storied history throughout 2024 and their "golden season". Follow along and tag them in your own Hangar memories on social media! 

    This is PART II of the 'Countdown to 50' series!

  • Sat, March 23, 2024 5:42 PM | Anonymous

    On Monday April 8, North Americans will be treated to one of Nature's most dramatic spectacles, a total solar eclipse. Beginning over the South Pacific Ocean, the first place in continental North America that will experience totality is on Mexico's Pacific coast at around 11:00 AM PDT. It will be seen in the US first in Texas, and will work its way north east and will become visible here in upstate New York around 2:07 PM. Weather permitting, this exquisite cosmic phenomenon can take the breath away. As the disc of the moon gradually covers the disc of the sun, the day will darken into night, and some of the brightest stars may become visible to the naked eye. Sometimes during total solar eclipses nocturnal animals can be confused into waking up, and some flowers, like poppies that are typically open only during the daytime, will begin to close.

    This sensational phenomenon has attracted nature photographers since the birth of photography in the 19th century. The earliest solar eclipse images in our collection date to the 1920s. On January 25th 1925 the East Coast including Ithaca experienced a total solar eclipse. Groton photographer Verne Morton and Ithaca photographer John Troy took exquisite shots of total solar eclipses. Morton's was taken near his home in Groton, and shows the sun emerging after totality with an eerie glow over the treeline; while Troy's was taken on the Cornell campus, showing silhouettes of people, possibly eager students, standing on top of the buildings.

    [One hopes that they had safety glasses because looking directly at a solar eclipse is very dangerous and can permanently damage one's eyesight. A number of local establishments may have ISO Certified glasses for safely viewing the eclipse, including Visit Ithaca at the Tompkins Center for History and Culture on the Commons.]

  • Fri, March 15, 2024 5:40 PM | Anonymous

    ODAR: An Immigrant Story embedded in Ithaca History

    Contact: Denice Peter Karamardian  607-227-3830

    March 6, 2024…….Denice Peter Karamardian grew up in Ithaca, New York, thinking she was Syrian – part of the small Syrian community that co-mingled with Greek, Italian, and other 20th century immigrant communities that helped to build the little city from the turn of the 20th century. She was partly right. Both of her paternal grandparents came from Syria and spoke in Syrian. But at the age of 12, she learned that her grandfather was actually Armenian and certain mysteries and stories emerged upon his death. Denice spent a lifetime searching for answers and details.

    The result is a trilogy, presented in a hybrid form as historical fiction and part memoire, based entirely upon the true story of the Karamardian family (known locally as the Peter family) across continents, wars, and generations. The series is called Odar, which means “other” in Armenian; sometimes it can mean “stranger” or “foreigner”. The author tracks a parallel narration of her own coming of age as it relates to the discoveries she makes in her search for identity.

    Book One release: April 9th, 2024

    The first book is titled Jido (pronounced Jih’ doh), meaning grandfather in the Syrian/Lebanese dialect of the family, tells of Joe Peter, born Hovsep Bedros Karamardian. His journey from Kessab, Syria to the salt block in Myers, NY, by way of the Caribbean, rests longingly in the Ithaca community before following the immigrant wave to Detroit and the good paying wages of the auto industry. But back home, trouble is brewing for the Armenians of Kessab.

    Book Two release: June 11, 2024

    Book Two: Silence, a Journey to Resilience and Redemption sines a spotlight on two contrasting worlds while war gathers across the globe. Women of the family in Syria endure unspeakable events narrated in their own words as Joe and Helen Peter build their family in new communities. As the war recedes and a second sister is rescued, resettle among the Ithaca hills the young couple has so missed. In another century, the author meets and discovers family previously unknown to her Ithaca family.

    Book Three release: August 20, 2024

    Book Three: Amirkans. The next generation of the Peter clan thrive on a South Danby farm and face a new war, while a family branch in Syria is making a national impact on that country. With ultimate emigration, journeys converge across two American coasts. Meanwhile, the author grapples with myths and misinformation in pursuit of questions, but no less inspired with the wonder of resilience and triumph of mankind when nothing else will do.


    Press release shared here with permission of Denice Karamardian. Learn more at

  • Fri, March 15, 2024 2:22 PM | Anonymous
    Spotlight on the Exhibit

    Throughout the year we will include highlights from our current exhibit 'A Sporting Chance: On and Off the Field' to connect those readers who haven't gotten to visit in person yet! This Women's History Month we want to highlight the history of women and girls hockey in Tompkins County. 

    We Broke the Ice: Girls & Women's Ice Hockey - A collaboration with Mary Grainger and the  Tompkins Girls Hockey Association

    With the passing of Title IX in 1972, the Tompkins Girls Hockey Association became the first all-girls hockey program in New York State, and the third in the country. 

    Ithaca High School sophomores Linda Dominick and Margaret Stanton got things started recruiting other girls for a June 1972 camp with Cornell Men’s Hockey Coach Dick Bertrand. Parents (including Ithaca Youth Bureau President Bruce Wilkins) worked to prepare for the first TGHA season with 60 participants. In 1973, the Ithaca Shooting Stars travel team was also offered but all participants practiced and played in the house league, too.

    A school sponsored team was not available for girls hockey in Tompkins until the state-wide GREAT campiagn was launched during the 1998 Olympics. “Girls Really Expect A Team” founder Mitzi Witchger educated and inspired Ithaca decision-makers as well as those she met during her tour of NYS. Ithaca, Oswego, Canton and Saranac Lake school boards approved the first four teams. IHS proceeded to win the first three state titles in 2001, 2002 and 2003, and again in 2011.

    Visit 'A Sporting Chance' now through December 2024 to learn more about TGHA and explore memorabilia from their first 50 years. 

  • Fri, March 15, 2024 2:21 PM | Anonymous
    Last Month at The History Center

    A Sporting Chance: On and Off the Field’, opened Friday February 2nd at the Tompkins Center for History and Culture. We had a phenomenal crowd turn out during Gallery Night, with wonderful performances from the Vociferous Cruciferous Chorus, a ceremonial rutabaga curl by Mayor Rob Cantelmo following a heartening cheer performance from the Rutabaga Curl Girls. 

    Our thanks to local news WBNG-12, The Ithaca Voice, Ithaca Times, ICTV, What's Hot NY, and WICB for helping spread the word about the new exhibit! You can find their coverage and insights on the displays at

    Our director Ben Sandberg spent the weekend in #WashingtonDC with over 300 other  #museumprofessionals for #MuseumAdvocacyDay 2024   ️. Museum Advocacy Day is an annual event coordinated by @aamersofficial for museums workers to speak directly with legislators to communicate the value of museums and support their continued funding on the federal level.

    The History Center has received major funding in recent years from federal legislation supporting the arts including major funds from National Endowment for the Humanities, American Historical Association, and Institute of Museum and Library Services. Learn about the #tompkinshistory projects and programming these funds supported at
    In our fourth year of the annual Douglass Day Transcribe-a-thon our 13 History Center volunteers contributed to digitizing over 100 pages from Frederick Douglass' General Correspondence Records held by the Library of Congress. At the start of the day there were 8,763 records to transcribe, over 7,800 of those now have transcriptions thanks to the work of volunteers (including ours!) across the country. 

  • Wed, March 06, 2024 4:06 PM | Anonymous

    Zoë Van Nostrand is transitioning out of her Community Engagement role at The History Center in Tompkins County at the end of March 2024.

    Zoë joined The History Center team in November of 2019 as the Marketing & Visitor Experience Coordinator and after four and a half years is leaving behind a wealth of improved digital access, hands-on programming, strengthened community relations, and a revitalized volunteer and student worker program that stood the test of the early years of the pandemic. The History Center fully supports her in her transition and is deeply appreciative of all the projects she has taken on over her years here. Below are some highlights (but definitely not all) of her various projects and improvements she leaves behind for our local history community.

    Whether you know it or not, Zoë has been the "voice" behind many of the communications you've seen, heard, or read from The History Center over the past 4+ years. She stewarded and grew our social media platforms on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter fully doubling our following and engagement numbers on each platform, as well as in general press coverage; and created from scratch active platforms on LinkedIn, a YouTube Channel with now over 80 local history videos and just shy of 200 followers; and a SoundCloud with playlists exploring oral history, local history radio segments, and local historic music performances. She has also written the majority of our monthly 'History Happenings' digital newsletters, and facilitated a lot of the press and articles about museum exhibits and public programs. As a new person takes over these digital spaces in the coming months expect that some of these communication practices will evolve to embrace the approach of our new marketing staff!

    Zoë spearheaded the total re-design of our website during the 2020 lock-down and has written and designed the content on at least 90% of the 100+ web pages we have available there in the four years since. The most elaborate of her projects has been the continued emphasis on telling historically  marginalized and underrepresented histories of our Tompkins County community across all our platforms. Since 2021 she facilitated student projects, co-researched, and co-wrote over a dozen history and heritage month web pages and corresponding social media posts. These women, Black, Asian, Filipino, Irish, Deaf, immigrant, Arab, disabled, LGBTQ+, and other often left-out histories are now more easily found. We hope that this effort will encourage more historically underrepresented communities to reach out to document their histories and donate materials to The History Center's archival collections supporting the institutions efforts in telling diverse and true histories of Tompkins County.

    In addition Zoë spearheaded two major grants that completed the archival processing of over 230 interviews from our Oral Histories of Tompkins County Audio Archives, and the creation of seven identity-themed oral history collections.

    She curated and co-designed two small-scale collaborative exhibits; Art of Wampum (November 2021), and Unfolding: A Timeline of Sexual Assault Activism in Tompkins County (May-June 2022), and supervised all public hours of the museum Exhibit Hall since we re-opened in August 2020.

    Some of the projects that she's most proud to leave behind are the wealth of materials created through her supervision of dozens of docent, volunteer, and student workers and many community collaborations. The proof of which is present across every platform and aspect of our operations.  Especially her work with our volunteers and student workers on many accessibility and engagement initiatives. From the co-design of the 'Resources for Visitors on the Autism Spectrum' guides, completion of closed captions for 70+ videos on YouTube,

    coordination of Spanish translations for four of our 'History at Home' children's activity booklets, coordination and promotion of 30+ audio versions of our self-guided walking and biking history tours, and finalizing over 200 transcripts for the Oral Histories of Tompkins County Collection. She is thrilled that each of these projects have the power to connect new audiences with our shared local history and archival materials. 


    Keep in touch with Zoë's next pursuits on LinkedIn and wish her well in her new position (emails and snail-mailed messages of appreciation are welcome)!

    Please offer The History Center a bit of grace as we get hire for the new position of Community Engagement Manager, and understand there may be a slow down in our public programs and collaborations as we get a new staff member up to speed.

  • Sat, February 24, 2024 10:23 PM | Anonymous

    This #BlackHistoryMonth we are very excited to share with you a wealth of newly digitized resources from our archival collections exploring and documenting Black history, individuals, and communities in #Ithaca and #TompkinsCounty. These six written works have been available in our archives for decades, and now are all fully digitized and available as PDFs for reading and downloading from The History Center website at

    Our thanks to the New York State Council on the Artsfor funding the digitization of these materials and supporting #blackhistorydigitization efforts in #TompkinsCounty. We look forward to continuing the work to keep our archives accessible for our full community. Find the links to these documents always at

    Our thanks to the New York State Council on the Arts for supporting

    the digitization of these materials through grant funds in 2023.

  • Sat, February 24, 2024 10:03 PM | Anonymous

    We are absolutely thrilled to share that through a collaboration with Pegasys Community Media Center last fall you can now watch nearly twenty programs and events hosted by The History Center over the last decade on our YouTube channel. These programs were recorded by Pegasys and aired on local news channels, but weren't previously available online. 

    Now you can access vital past programs such as 'Getting Hitched: How Tompkins County Contributed to Winning Marriage Equality', and Saved From the Wrecking Ball - Community Panel, and over a dozen other programs. 

    EXPLORE THE FULL PLAYLIST Local History Pegasys Community Media Center

    We hope that this extensive addition to our online video materials provides opportunities for our audiences who can't always visit Tompkins County in-person more opportunities to learn about our history. Our thanks especially to Lauren Stefanelli for recording and editing these programs in the first place and collaborating with us again to bring them to new viewers. 

  • Sat, February 24, 2024 9:49 PM | Anonymous

    This newsletter was researched and compiled by the staff of the Hangar Theatre and first shared to their email lists on February 9th 2024. It is shared here with their permission. The Hangar will be highlighting their storied history throughout 2024 and their "golden season". Follow along and tag them in your own Hangar memories on social media! 

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Physical Address

Located inside the Tompkins Center for History & Culture

110 North Tioga Street

(On the Ithaca Commons) 

Ithaca NY, 14850 USA

Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫˀ Territory


Exhibit Hall Wednesday-Saturday 10am-6pm - CLOSED Sun-Tues

Cornell Local History Research Library & Archives - By appointment only. Please contact


Email: Refer to Contact page for individual emails, General inquiries to

Phone: 607-273-8284


Find us on social media @tompkinshistory


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