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A Program of The History Center in Tompkins County

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HistoryForge is an innovative digital history project combining maps, archival records, and census data that allows any community to explore its local history through the individuals who lived there and the buildings and neighborhoods they lived in.  

Developed by The History Center of Tompkins County, HistoryForge began in 2016 with a small group of local history enthusiasts creating an interactive web environment of the City of Ithaca. Since then, the platform has expanded greatly. Tompkins HistoryForge can be used to explore the history of the City of Ithaca, and parts of Tompkins County, in the late 19th and early 20th century. Interactive search functions allow users to find information on historic maps about people and places. The mobile-enhanced website with location-based discovery makes it easy to view historic photographs of houses, businesses, and other nearby buildings and to learn about the people who lived and worked there. 

How-To Search Video Guide

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Delve into our fully searchable census databases to learn about the community.


Use the filter to search by place of birth, occupation, industry, race, and/or sex, or any field on a given census, like radio ownership (1930).


Access the census databases by selecting

from the options under Data on the menu bar.


Explore Tompkins County’s historic built environment. We’ve created a searchable database of buildings using information from the censuses, city directories, historic maps, and other local historical resources.


Search for a building by entering an address in the search box under Places on the homepage.


Use the suggested address format from the drop-down menu.

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The Forge, our maps page, is another great way to learn about the historic built environment and how it changed over time.


Historic maps from 1806 to 1933 for the City of Ithaca or from 1853 to 1940 for the Towns of Tompkins County, can be overlayed on a modern Google Map.


These maps can also be used as the visual backdrop for the results of a search of census or building records.

Special thanks to the incredible support from South Central Regional Library Council, because of their grant the digitization of Historic Ithaca's tax photograph index cards has become a reality.  


HistoryForge has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.

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