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Welcome to the Tompkins County Historian Division

Tompkins County was created by New York in 1817, which designated Ithaca the county seat. The county experienced initial growth until the years following the Depression of 1837 after which the population throughout, excepting Ithaca, declined. Cornell University was the product of the Morrill Land Grant Act designed to create studies in agriculture and engineering, blended with Ezra Cornell’s desire to found a university for poor, but deserving students, and the greater vision of Andrew Dickson White, who created the university’s structure and became its first president. Today, Education” is the county’s largest employer. The county’s current population is 101,564.