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ORAL HISTORIES OF TOMPKINS COUNTY

The Oral Histories of Tompkins County - Audio Archives collect, preserve, and amplify the stories of our local community.

The Oral Histories of Tompkins County - Audio Archives contain over 200 interviews collected from Tompkins County residents between 1984-2021. Our collections include interviews with historically marginalized groups and individuals in our community, and serve to amplify the voices of those who have not historically had prominence in our programs, exhibits, and collections. Thanks to generous funding support we are in the process of transcribing all interviews, and updating the collections to be more accessible for the public.

The majority of our interviews were recorded as part of specific initiatives or class projects and include narratives from those who have experienced incarceration in Tompkins County, community leaders, educators, first-generation immigrants, Tompkins County elders, and much more.

In 2021 we created a new category of Oral History Collections within our holdings to group interviews that share gender, racial, ethnic, and cultural themes within their narratives.

Individuals interested in listening to any interview are invited to make an appointment in our Research Library. Select interviews are also available to listen to for free at New York Heritage Digital Collections, on SoundCloud, and in the Story Vault Exhibit at The History Center in Tompkins County on the Ithaca Commons.

Visit our Exhibit Hall to hear select oral history clips in our Story Vault exhibit! Oral History audio files are available for listening in the Research Library or by contacting archives@thehistorycenter.net

ORAL HISTORY FINDING AID      ORAL HISTORY TRANSCRIPTS

GET INVOLVED

SHARE YOUR STORY

Do you or a member of your family or community have a story to share about your experiences in our community? Contact us if you are interested in preserving your memories of Tompkins County for our oral history collections!

Share Your Story


  Abner Argueta interviewed in 2019


VOLUNTEER

Help us transcribe oral histories! Each recorded interview needs a matching transcript to assist researchers and build our collection. Listen to the narratives of members of our community and help us preserve them. 

Oral History Transcriber


Cornell Oral History Fellows 2020

FAMILY STORIES

The practice of recording and preserving memories and experiences, enables us to capture the wisdom of our living libraries before they pass away and “burn to the ground.”

Learn More

Baldev & Kamaldeep Sekhon were                interviewed in 2019. 

ORAL HISTORIES OF TOMPKINS COUNTY COLLECTIONS

The seven Oral Histories of Tompkins County Collections were created in 2021 to organize and group recordings from our audio archives that share themes of identity, culture, and experience. These collections will continue to grow and be added to as interviews with these themes are accessioned into our audio archives. 

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.

The Black Voices in Tompkins County Oral History Collection was established in 2021 to highlight interviews and stories in our archives that explore the experiences of Black, African-American, African diaspora, and African 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.

The Indigenous Voices in Tompkins County Oral History Collection was established in 2021 to highlight interviews and stories in our archives that explore the experiences of Native American, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and people from Indigenous communities and cultures around the globe living in Tompkins County. Our oral history efforts have focused on recording the stories of Haudenosaunee community members whose ancestors have lived on this land for time immemorial, but this collection includes narratives from Indigenous peoples not part of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. This collection will continue to expand as our oral history archives continue to grow.

The Stories of Immigration to Tompkins County Oral History Collection was established in 2021 to highlight interviews and stories in our archives that explore the experiences of first generation immigrants to Tompkins County and the United States, and their descendants. The topics of these interviews explore a wide range of experiences, community, and cultures. 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.

The Gender and Sexuality in Tompkins County Oral History Collection was established in 2021 to highlight interviews and stories in our archives that explore sexuality, gender identity, expressions of love, and activism in these areas. This collection does not include interviews from everyone in our oral history collections who identified as LGBTQIA+ but only those interviews that discuss these identities and experiences. 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. 

The Women’s Voices in Tompkins County Oral History Collection was established in 2021 to highlight interviews and stories in our archives that explore the experiences of women 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.
The Religion & Belief in Tompkins County Oral History Collection was established in 2021 to highlight interviews and stories in our archives that explore the themes of religious belief and practice. This collection includes interviews with subjects from multiple faiths and religious practices. 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.

ORAL HISTORY PROJECTS

The majority of the oral history recordings and transcripts held in our collections were recorded as part of specific themed projects coordinated by community groups, institutions, or class programs. Some projects, such as the Generation to Generation recordings focused on interviewing community elders on their memories of life in Tompkins County. Other projects explore more contemporary issues such as climate change, food businesses, or experiences with incarceration in Tompkins County. Interviews can be listened to in the Research Library or by contacting archives@thehistorycenter.net.

We are still processing, transcribing, and creating individual Finding Aids for each oral history project in our collections thanks to the support of the American Historical Association. Please reach out if you'd like to volunteer to help us improve these collections!

Generation to Generation  |  Cornell University Undergraduate |  Community Projects  

Generation to Generation - Oral History Projects of The History Center Youth Ambassadors

Generation to Generation was a program of The History Center in Tompkins County Youth Education Department from the early 2000's-2019 which created intergenerational learning opportunities by connecting local teenagers with community elders. Following a series of trainings local youth would select and interview elders about their lives, memories, and experiences of living in Tompkins County. Generation to Generation includes the following projects:

  • 2019 - HERSTORY - Generation to Generation
  • 2019 - Immigration & Food - Generation to Generation
  • 2018 - Seniors - Generation to Generation
  • 2017 - Generation to Generation
  • 2016 - Generation to Generation
  • 2006 - The Lifelong Tapes

         


Young women from the Tompkins County community explored local women’s history, and each interviewed an adult woman in the community about their lives and work. A project of The History Center Youth Ambassadors. 

Cornell University - Oral History Projects of Undergraduate Classes

Beginning in 2017 professors in the Anthropology, Sociology, English, and the Public History Initiative have collaborated with The History Center to produce semester-long projects with select undergraduate courses to engage students in the Tompkins County community and culture off campus. These projects have interviewed local farmers, members of 1970's communes, local politicians, educators, and first generation immigrants.

Our thanks to professors Stephen Vider, Sofia Villenas, Hayden Kantor, and Molly MacVeagh for coordinating these projects. 

  • 2021 - Food & Foodways in Tompkins County - Public History Initiative Fellowship
  • 2020-2021 - Community Responses to COVID - Public History Initiative Fellowship
  • 2019 - Local Sisters of Change - Cornell Anthropology 1900
  • 2018 - Global Engagements - Living & Working in a Diverse World - Cornell Anthropology 1900
  • 2018 - Agricultural Imaginaries - Cornell English 1158
  • 2017 - Fall - Cornell Anthropology 1900

 

Community Partners - Oral History Projects from Community Organizations

The desire to preserve the voices, stories, and memories of our community extends well beyond the local history circle. We regularly collaborate with local organizations on projects to preserve stories and narratives from their community. As of 2021 we are no longer able to spearhead these projects, but are happy to share training resources, insight on best practices, and discuss what documentation is needed to formally accession interviews into our collections. 

Collaborating with The History Center Oral History Program to formally accession materials into our collections ensures these projects are preserved for decades and centuries to come. 

      


ORAL HISTORIES OF TOMPKINS COUNTY PROJECT FINDING AIDS

Finding Aids for the Oral Histories of Tompkins County projects and collections began to be compiled in 2021 under the 'Building Capacity, Growing Accessibility' grant from the Institute of Museum & Library Services. Finding Aids include summaries, trigger warnings, and detailed listing information for each interview included in the project. 

*This projects Finding Aid is being compiled, and is intended to become available in 2022-2023 as part of the AHA/NEH 'Preserving Oral Histories' grant. 

GRANT SUPPORT FOR THE ORAL HISTORY COLLECTION

        

Generous support for processing our Oral Histories of Tompkins County collections and projects comes from the one year grant 'Preserving Community Oral Histories' from the 'Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (SHARP)' awards coordinated by the American Historical Association and funded through the National Endowment for the Humanities from 2022-2023.

Generous support for processing these collections and projects 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꞉nǫˀ Territory

Hours

Exhibit Hall Wednesday-Saturday 10am-5pm - CLOSED Sun-Tues

Cornell Local History Research Library & Archives - By appointment only. Please contact archives@thehistorycenter.net

Contact                                                     

Email: Refer to Contact page for individual emails, General inquiries to community@thehistorycenter.net

Phone: 607-273-8284

Web: thehistorycenter.net

Find us on social media @tompkinshistory

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