HIST 27000 History of American Environmental Thought

Local Environmental History Research Project

Historical Research - Local

While libraries and historical societies are actively digitzing local history sources (newspapers, journals, diaries, etc.), many important resources are not yet available online.  These resources are in microfilm or print formats, and finding aids (indexes, bibliographies, catalogs, etc.) are used to search these resources. 

What does this mean for you as a researcher?  You may have to use an online index or a print finding aid.  If there is no finding aid, you will have to search microfilm by date/s to find relevant articles.   Images from microfilm can be printed and/or saved.

The Tompkins County Public Library has created a print index for local history articles that appeared in the Ithaca Journal from 1969 to June 1999.  The volume also includes indices for special issues of the Ithaca Journal from 1915, 1938, 1939, and 1960.  See the TCPL Reference Desk for access. 

TCPL also maintains an historic newspaper collection (on microfilm) for the Tompkins County area. 

The New York Historic Newspapers collection includes the following local papers: American journal. 1817-1823; Ithaca daily journal.1872-1913; Ithaca journal, literary gazette, and general advertiser. 1825-182?; and the Ithaca journal.1823-1825, as well as local newspapers published in New York state.

Ithaca Journal search the US Newsstream   database for articles from the Ithaca Journal from 1999 - present.  Type in Ithaca Journal and select "publication title" from the drop-down menu.  

The Ithaca College Library has the Ithaca Journal on microfilm (AN2 .I8) from 1919 - present.  The reels are stored in the microfilm cabinets on the main floor. See the library's Video that explains how to use our microfilm reader.

Ithacan (Ithaca College Student Newspaper)
Historical issues of the Ithaca College student newspaper (1926-2002). Searchable by word for every article, photograph caption, and advertisement from the newspaper.  View recent issues at The Ithacan Online.

The History Center in Tompkins County has an extensive collection of local history sources.

Historic Ithaca  has a Library of the Built Environment with 600 books, dozens of magazine titles, a 120-year run of Ithaca City Directories, thousands of photographs and slides, surveys of historic resources throughout Tompkins County, scrapbooks, maps, and ephemera.

Historical Research - National

  • America: History and Life Citations for articles from prehistory to the present.
  • Readers' Guide Retrospective Citations for articles published in popular journals from 1890-1982.  Useful for locating articles that are in the bound periodical stacks on the 4th floor.
  • New York Times (1851-2013)
    The full-text of the NY Times. Includes all images and advertising.  Search for names, events and concepts and view a summary of an article, a PDF image of the article or the entire page of the newspaper.
  • Ancestry Library Edition Links to historical records: census, court, land, and church records.  Census data to the street level is available for tracking characteristics of neighborhoods. Currently the most recent census available is 1940.

Selected Books and Ebooks

 Books and Ebooks:
  The nature of New York : an environmental history of the Empire State 
 Everyday nature : knowledge of the natural world in colonial New York 
  The Making of Green Knowledge Environmental Politics and Cultural Transformation 
  The American college town  - Chapter 3 is about Ithaca

Selected subjects in the Ithaca College Library collection:

Tompkins County - Pictorial Works
Tompkins County - Local History
Environmental Law - United States History
Environmental Management - Ithaca
Environmental Policy - New York State
Environmental Protection - Tompkins County
New York State - Environmental Conditions

Films purchased for the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival

The Tompkins County Public Library has a collection of local history materials that have been digitized:

Contact Us

picture of Lisabeth Chabot
College Librarian
(607) 274-3182

Research Tip: Primary Sources

This research project involves the use of primary resources.  For a review of the differences between primary sources and other information sources, see the Library's Guide on Primary and Secondary Sources.

The National Archives has developed a series of Document Analysis Worksheets.   They are designed to help you critically evaluate your sources.

Research Tip: Annotated Bibliographies

See the Library's Guide on Annotated Bibliographies for tips on writing annotations.

Research Tip: PowerPoint Presentations

Creating effective PowerPoint presentations:

Research Tip: Image Sources

American Environmental Photographs, 1891-1936: Images from the University of Chicago Library
Images cover turn-of-the-century life, the new discipline of ecology, increasing industrialization, large-scale agriculture, rural life, settlement of the West, history of Native Americans, development of the National Park system, and the advent of leisure time.

American Panorama
An ongoing project to develop a digital atlas that illustrates patterns of social change. It maps major social developments such as the forced migration of slaves before the Civil War and patterns of immigration to the United States from 1850 to 2010. 

New York Heritage
Access to digital collections that include photographs, letters, diaries, directories, maps, newspapers, and books. Images from Ithaca College and the History Center collections are included.  You can search images from the  Ithaca College Collection directly.

Images of Ithaca & Tompkins County: Vol. I, the early years, 1850-1939.  Vol. II, the 1940s, '50s & '60s

A web-based platform for organizing, searching, and visualizing the 170,000 photographs taken by the United States Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information (FSA-OWI) during tehe Great Depression.   Search by keyword or photographer, but use the county-by-county map of photos to navigate. 

Environmental Policy Sources

CQ Researcher
Comprehensive reporting and analysis on current issues in the news. Each report includes an introductory overview; background and chronology on the topic; an assessment of the current situation; tables and maps; pro/con statements from representatives of opposing positions; and bibliographies of key sources.


Census Data

 Historical Census Browser
Access to summary level demographic, economic, and social data collected by the U.S. Census from 1790 to 1960. Database generates longitudinal tables and maps. Topics covered: population, education, ethnicity, economy, slave population, and place of birth.

National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS)
NHGIS provides, free of charge, aggregate census data and GIS-compatible boundary files for the United States between 1790 and 2010. The NHGIS Data Finder (which requires free registration) provides access to aggregate census data via an easy-to-use web based interface.