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Use to Explore Local Neighborhoods

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.  

Our pilot project began in 2016 and focuses on exploring the history of Ithaca, New York in the late 19th and early 20th century using interactive search functions which allow users to find information on historic maps about people and places.

Ithaca HistoryForge includes over 100,000 digitized census records of Ithacan's from 1910-1940, and is in the process of adding tens of thousands of building records to the database. 

By searching the database using the "Race" filter on different census years you can see where Black neighborhoods existed in the City of Ithaca. 

An image of a HistoryForge map that displays several red dots.

Each red dot references a self-identified Black individual or family living in the building in the 1930 census. The area shown is the Southside Neighborhood. You can see the names, ages, professions and more of each individual by exploring their census records

Census Activities & Lesson Plans

Educator Reference Materials & Ideas

Some suggested census activities and lesson plans (teacher & student versions available in link):

HistoryForge for Kids!

We know research databases can be a little overwhelming to jump into, so we've created some research activities for ages 8 and up to help them get familiar with how to use HistoryForge.

Download the activities by clicking on the pictures and contact with any questions. 

Download the complete History at Home Activity Sets here

           A small image of the "All About Tommy" History at Home activity set.                 A small image of the "The Ithaca Kitty" History at Home Activity Set

Tour Ithaca & Tompkins County To Further Connect with HistoryForge

Architectural Walking Tour of Downtown Ithaca

A small black and white image of downtown Ithaca.

Explore our self-guided walking 'Architectural Walking Tour of Downtown Ithaca' tour on the free PocketSights App to explore the architecture of Downtown Ithaca. Follow-up with a visit to our Exhibit Hall for our 'Around the Block' exhibit exploring the history of different businesses and structures that existed on our city block on the Ithaca Commons over the centuries. 

Historic Schools of Tompkins County - Driving Tour

An image with text in a circle that says "PocketSights Historic Schools of Tompkins County"

Explore our self-guided driving tour 'Historic Schools of Tompkins County' on the free PocketSights App to explore the architecture of Downtown Ithaca. Follow-up with a visit to our Exhibit Hall for the 'Counting Educational Opportunities' exhibit exploring how the census teaches us about education levels across the U.S. and in Tompkins County over the decades. 

Recorded Lectures/Presentations on HistoryForge

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Digital Collections

The following collections from our Archives which are publicly accessible on New York Heritage Digital Collections and can be used by educators for more in-depth school research projects. 

Physical Address

Located inside the Tompkins Center for History & Culture

110 North Tioga Street

(On the Ithaca Commons) 

Ithaca NY, 14850 USA

Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫˀ Territory


Exhibit Hall Wednesday-Saturday 10am-6pm - CLOSED Sun-Tues

Cornell Local History Research Library & Archives - By appointment only. Please contact


Email: Refer to Contact page for individual emails, General inquiries to

Phone: 607-273-8284


Find us on social media @tompkinshistory


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