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Oral History Collection

The History Center in Tompkins County’s Oral History Program collects, preserves, and amplifies the stories of our local community.

The Asian Diaspora in Tompkins County Oral History Collection was established in 2021 to highlight interviews and stories in our archives that explore the experiences of Asian, Asian-American, Pacific Islander, and South-Asian people living in Tompkins County. The topics of these interviews explore a wide range of experiences, community, and culture, and the stories shared may have been guided by the specific project the interview was recorded for. This collection will continue to expand as our Oral History archives continue to grow.

Visit our Exhibit Hall to hear oral history clips in our Story Vault exhibit!


Mimi Melegrito grew up in the Phillippines and has has worked in Ithaca as a volunteer in nursing homes, food banks, and local 4-H youth clubs. Our Oral Histories of Tompkins County collections include interviews with her from 2017 and 2018. 


Ooy & Bonner Herren - 2019 - Immigration & Food Project

Ooy Herren discusses her business ventures in  Thailand, including a gas station and a bakery, and her restaurant in Ithaca, Thai Basil. She also discusses the time-intensive nature of owning a small business and the difficulties that the language barrier has imposed.

Amy Somchanhmavong - 2019 - Local Sisters of Change Project

Amy Somchanhmavong speaks on the intersection of creating a space for Asian American studies in academia and connecting this pursuit to community engagement. She reflects on leading the push for the establishment of the Asian American Studies program in Binghamton University and, upon moving to Ithaca, becoming involved with various community-based organizations in order to apply this work. Amy currently serves as the Associate Director of Community Service-Learning and Partnership at Ithaca College and is the co-founder of the Ithaca Asian American Association, Ithaca Dragon Boat Club, and the Ithaca Pan Asian American Film Festival

Generous support for processing these collections came from the two year grant "Building Capacity, Creating Sustainability, Growing Accessibility" coordinated by the Museum Association of New York and funded through the Institute of Museum & Library Services from 2020-2022.

Physical Address

Located inside the Tompkins Center for History & Culture

110 North Tioga Street

(On the Ithaca Commons) 

Ithaca NY, 14850 USA

Gayogo̱hó:nǫ' Territory


Exhibit Hall Wednesday-Saturday 10am-5pm - 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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