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"Made in Tompkins County: A Timeline of Local Enterprise" Exhibition

Thomas Morse  Aviation

October 7th, 2016 to February 18th, 2017

Tompkins County is well known for its educational institutions. What is less known is its rich industrial history. From its earliest days it has been the home of inventors and entrepreneurs - people who laid the commercial foundation of a prosperous community. From grist mills to high tech, local enterprise has encompassed world renowned guns, iron bridges, calendar clocks, steam engines, drive chains, and much more. This broad survey takes a look at the long sweep of enterprise in Tompkins County, from its earliest days to the 21st century.

(Pictured on left Thomas-Morse Aviation).

The History Center would like to thank our sponsor for their generous support.

Research for exhibits at The History Center lets us dig deeply into our collections for information that will be interesting, educational, and entertaining.

For Made in Tompkins County- a Timeline of Local Enterprise, we started off with books in our library collection, primarily The Spirit of Enterprise: Nineteenth Century in Tompkins County, by the late Gretchen Sachse, formerly a Tompkins County historian. Her work was the inspiration for this exhibit, as well as a rich source of information on early industry in the county, especially early mills. Other useful books included A Short History of Tompkins County as well as The Towns of Tompkins County, the first written by former Ithaca City Historian Jane Dieckmann, and the latter edited by her. Tompkins County, New York – Images of Work and Play, compiled and edited by the Municipal Historians of Tompkins County and the Tompkins County Historian was quite helpful. We also relied on older works such as Ithaca and Its Resources, written by D. Morris Kurtz in 1883 and The History of Tioga, Chemung, Tompkins, and Schuyler Counties, by H.B. Peirce and D. Hamilton Hurd in 1879.

Our photo collections were an essential resource, especially our General Photo Collection, our Family, Business, and Organizations Collection, and our Stereoview Collection.

Scrapbooks are critical repositories of newspaper articles dating back to the mid-19th century and provided us with useful information on many of the businesses that we wanted to highlight.

Ithaca City Directories are full of information on local people and businesses and also contain wonderful and quaint advertising that we used to accompany our timeline panels.

Our archival collections, the document and manuscript collections that comprise the bulk of our holdings, are a staple of exhibit research. For this exhibit the Ithaca Industries Collection, the Ithaca Calendar Clock Collection, the Groton Iron Bridge Collection, and the Ithaca Gun Company Collection were the most important.

For modern industries we trusted internet sources such as company website for our information. For information on businesses in Dryden and Trumansburg we are grateful for assistance from the Dryden Town Historical Society and the Ulysses Historical Society, respectively.

Take home a piece of history! Stop by The History Center and purchase a copy of the supporting resource books used for this exhibit.



The Towns of Tompkins County: From Podunk to the Magnetic Springs,
edited by Jane Marsh Dieckmann

The book draws on historical accounts, public records, newspaper stories, and recollections of residents, especially those who have lived in the county for many years. Illustrated with more then 100 photographs and maps, this volume will make informative, useful, and entertaining reading for residents and friends of the region.