The Civil War (1861-1865) impacted Americans from all walks of life. With the military rendezvous and Confederated Prison Camp in Elmira, the war was a daily presence in the lives of Chemung County residents. While soldiers fought on the battlefield, their families back home worked to maintain a sense of normalcy and support the war effort. Local businesses profited from supplying the army. Even today, the legacy of the war remains.
The Chemung County Civil War Experience presents three exhibits:
In the Army Now: Life of a Chemung County Soldier
Keeping the Home Fires Burning: Life on the Chemung County Homefront
So Far From Home: Life in Elmira's Confederate Prison Camp
Parks have long played an important role in Chemung County’s history. Today, there are over 80 parks in the county offering a wide variety of recreational opportunities: city and town parks with playgrounds, sports fields, and picnic facilities; county parks and conservation lands with hiking trails and campgrounds; and memorial parks honoring fallen heroes. This online exhibit provides locations, descriptions, and photographs of all the parks in the county.
The 1920s were a time of struggle between traditional values and modernity. Although popularly called “Roaring ‘20s” or the “age of wonderful nonsense,” the 1920s were more complex than those names suggest. Elmira in the 1920s explores this turbulent time through topics such as build environments, upward mobility, community, entertainment, and prohibition.
This online exhibit was created through a partnership between the Chemung County Historical Society and Elmira College. In the 2015 Term III, 14 students in the class "Doing Public History" researched Elmira during the 1920s. Each student chose a topic, wrote a paper, and examined objects and documents from the CCHS collections. Under the guidance of CCHS staff, students learned the mechanics of virtual exhibit design and label writing and turned their research into this exhibit.
Chemung County, as it is today, is the product of centuries of history. Each town and village within the county has its own unique past. From July 2014 through August 2021, CCHS will be presenting a series of 14 exhibits exploring the histories of the towns and villages. After each exhibit at the museum closes, an online version of that exhibit will be available. Explore the History of Horseheads virtual exhibit now.
In celebration of the City of Elmira’s 150th anniversary, Chemung County Historical Society, Historic Elmira, and the Elmira City School District have partnered to reflect on our past with an eye to the future. Local elementary students have created artwork depicting their views of the city. This project encouraged students to learn and care about their community, with the hope that it will inspire them to be active community members now and as they grow up.
Students from the following schools created artwork for this exhibit:
Pine City Elementary
The Gilded Age (1870-1900) was a period of significant social, cultural, economic, technological, and political change. In 1873, Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner wrote The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today. The book criticized the corruption and materialism of industrial era politics and business. The term "Gilded Age" refers to the difference between the idealized, golden surface of the age and the real problems hidden underneath.
In Gilded Age Elmira, business boomed and the population grew. Still, there were many underlying societal issues. This exhibit, created by Elmira College students, will explore the cultural history of Elmira in the Gilded Age. Each topic is examined using the two sides of the Gilded Age: the gilded ideal and the tarnished reality.
Talitha Botsford (1901-2002) was a musician, composer, poet and artist. This virtual exhibit is a showcase of many of Talitha Botsford's paintings and postcards from the collection of the Chemung County Historical Society.
The art of fashioning human hair into jewelry and floral wreaths was widely practiced in the mid-19th Century in the United States. Hairwork was an expression of memory and beauty. Locks of hair and wreaths memorialized lost loved ones while pieces of hair jewelry were shared as tokens of love and remembrance.