Local History and Genealogy Blog

Juneteenth Celebrations

Juneteenth, commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans, was made a federal holiday in 2021 and will become an Illinois state holiday this year (2022). Originating in Galveston, Texas, in 1865, the celebration has a long history within regions and populations of the United States. Over the years, it has gone by several names, Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Black Independence Day, and even various dates, September 22, January 1, and others, before settling on June 19. Read more about Juneteenth Celebrations

Dining at the Chanute Air Force Base

Early in my internship, I created a Flickr album that includes photos of menus and dining halls on the base. Since looking at the photographs of the dining halls, I became interested in the buildings themselves. Lucking, the buildings collection contains a lot of information about housing, construction, and fortunately for us, a little bit about the dining halls!

A man holding a cafeteria tray in one hand and a bottle of milk and silverware in one of Chanute's dining halls.

An unidentified Chanuter carrying a cafeteria tray in one of Chanute's dining halls. Dated November 17, 1940. Read more about Dining at the Chanute Air Force Base

The General is a Lady! Commanding Officer Norma E. Brown


Image of a newspaper article titled, "The General is a Lady" about Commander Norma E. Brown. The article feature an image of Brown at her desk.

Newspaper article about the new Chanute commander, Norma E. Brown from an unidentified newpaper.

Chanute Air Force Base hosted many notable people as faculty, staff, and students, including an array of commanding officers from the very inception of the base until its closing (1917-1993). Looking through the Commanding Officers collection, we can see that men mostly held the position of commanding officer, with a few exceptions. One such exception is Norma E. Brown, the first woman to command a United States Air Force Wing and Technical Training Center. Read more about The General is a Lady! Commanding Officer Norma E. Brown

Documenting Land Use Changes Through Aerial Photographs

The Archives’ photograph collection contains many types of photographs, one being aerial. These aerial photographs can help track changes in neighborhoods and business districts. The changes might be from agricultural use to new residential or business use. They could also include the demolition of existing residential homes or buildings for a new mall, office building, or apartment complex. Aerial views from different angles or long-range can show additional details of other neighborhoods beyond the area of interest. Read more about Documenting Land Use Changes Through Aerial Photographs

Tread Carefully

We may have made it safely out of winter, but here in the Midwest, unpredictable winters are a fact of life. There is one thing you can be sure of. When the roads are bad, it is important to drive safe, and driving safe is easier when your tires are in good shape. Speaking of tires, here is a collection of tire ads from the 1920’s. Read more about Tread Carefully

It's Syllabus Day! Instructors and Students at the NCO Leadership School

The Chanute Air Force Base was home to non-commissioned officers. These officers rose through the ranks of their respective units and were not commissioned outside of that unit. As such, these officers were especially hard-working and dedicated. However, even the best leaders can improve their skills. The NCO Leadership School was a place where they could learn more about leadership and how to adapt their skills for their new roles. Read more about It's Syllabus Day! Instructors and Students at the NCO Leadership School

Down the Archives Rabbit Hole

Merriam Webster defines rabbit hole as “one in which the pursuit of something (such as an answer or solution) leads to other questions, problems, or pursuits.”

If you ask me, one of the best things about working in the Champaign County Historical Archives is the archives rabbit hole. One thing can, and usually does, lead to another. I had that very experience just this week and thought I’d document it here so you can see how it goes. Read more about Down the Archives Rabbit Hole

Chanute Snapshot: A Look at 1972

Part of the Chanute Collection contains the yearly written histories of the base. The staff of Chanute began writing down their histories beginning in 1917 and continued every year until the base’s closure in 1993. Let’s take a look back at what was happening on the base 50 years ago, in 1972. Read more about Chanute Snapshot: A Look at 1972