History Center Visit / by Handwerker Gallery

The library at the History Center.

The library at the History Center.

Last Tuesday, gallery director Mara Baldwin and I went to the The History Center in Tompkins County to get a first-hand look at the history of craft and cottage industry in Tompkins County. Upon arriving we were greeted by  Donna Eschenbrenner, Director of Archives and Research Services and Kayla Sewell (IC ’14), Visitor and Administrative Services Manager. First, we were able to take a look at the History Center’s open storage collection which contained objects ranging from typewriters to handmade baskets. Kayla had prepared some research guides to help see what objects and materials could be used in later research visits. A large portion of this list was stored in the archives, which contained thousands of glass negatives along with historical documents that could illuminate how craft was utilized throughout local history. After a quick overview of the archives we were led to take a look at the larger objects in storage. We descended down a staircase and through an alarmed door. Once the lighter were on we were able to see a vast collection of objects: everything from millinery (hat-making) tools to beautiful handmade Shaker rocking chairs. This was only an initial visit but it gave me a good perspective of the rich history of craft in our area. Thanks to Donna, and Kayla at the History Center for hosting our hist and keeping  these invaluable resources accessible to the public.