Investigating Rural History

The overall aim of the project is to assess the extent of the archives of local history centers, strengthen existing relationships with staff and librarians, and explore the possibilities for collaboration between these centers, the local community, and Cornell, as well as other local initiatives (such as the Central New York Humanities Corridor). In order to do this, we visited The History Center in Tompkins County and Chemung County’s Historical Center in Elmira. Despite COVID, we were able to obtain an overview of the scope of the collections in both Centers. 

The History Center in Tompkins County is home to twelve partner organizations, houses permanent and temporary exhibitions, including an interactive timeline of the history of the county made in partnership with the Haudenosaunee people. It also houses the Cornell Local History Research Library and Thaler/Howell Archives, and its collection is particularly strong in photography, cartes de visite, and maps. The Chemung History Center houses a small museum and archive, the Booth Library. It has a strong collection on the Elmira Confederate Prisoner of War camp, including diaries and letters by prisoners held there. It also has material relating to John W. Jones, former slave and Underground Railroad Station Master.