Local History and Genealogy Blog

Car Ads from 100 Years Ago

A lot of items that we use today are technological advances from years past. Take, for example, the automobile. In 1920, you might not have been able to buy an SUV with rearview cameras and a collision-avoidance system, but you could still buy an automobile. In this post, I have collected some car advertisemetns that were featured 100 years ago.

One option available for sale was the Paige Light Six, which was dubbed “The Most Beautiful Car in America.”

Advertisement for Paige Light Six, The News-Gazette, July 8, 1920 Read more about Car Ads from 100 Years Ago

Chanute Spotlight: Mark A. Greene

Group Photograph, Air Corps Supply and Techinical Clerks Class 1, January 25, 1935; Greene is the fourth from the left

On January 25th, 1935, Mark A. Greene graduated from the Air Supply and Technical Clerks course at Chanute Field. This course covered clerical subjects like typewriting, shorthand, organization, office machines, operations, business arithmetic, bookkeeping, military correspondence, and more. Greene described Chanute as “rundown buildings, many leftover from World War I.” According to Greene, “As a private, I was too poor in those days to afford a camera, but I don’t recall much that was worth photographing anyway.” Read more about Chanute Spotlight: Mark A. Greene

Newspapers! Get Your Newspapers Here!

When you think of the Champaign County Historical Archives (and we hope you do!), do you think of newspapers? Some folks might, if they are doing specific research or if they are interested in genealogy. But I want to let everyone know about the rich trove of newspapers we have here in the Archives, newspapers that you might remember and ones that are not so memorable. Over the next few months, I will be here to talk about our newspaper collection and how you can access the photos and stories that make up the rich history of Champaign County. Read more about Newspapers! Get Your Newspapers Here!

Lincoln's "Mad" Couch

"Lincoln's 'Mad' Couch," Urbana Daily Courier, August 6, 1934 While researching early newspaper articles about the Urbana Lincoln Hotel, I stumbled upon a small piece in the Urbana Daily Courier from August 6, 1934, regarding Abraham Lincoln's "mad" couch. The author discussed how travelers regularly used this "mad" couch in the Maplewood Hotel's lobby in Berlin, Wisconsin. Made specifically for Lincoln, as it is six feet, six inches long, the couch was reportedly from his office in Springfield. The provenance of the couch is recounted in the article. It was first left with General Brayman, "a close friend" of Lincoln's who acquired it presumably when Lincoln died. Though the article says when [he] did not return to Springfield," a much more polite way to say they took a dead president's furniture. After coming to Wisconsin, the couch was given to Dr. Victor Kutchin, who owned it at the time of the article's writing. The ownership story ends there at the end of a tiny, two-paragraph article placed among the "Evening Courier's Page of Interpretation and Opinion." [1] Read more about Lincoln's "Mad" Couch

New Exhibit: “From Homemaking to Municipal Housekeeping: 20th Century Women’s Clubs in Champaign County”

The Champaign County Historical Archives invites you to explore our new online exhibit, “From Homemaking to Municipal Housekeeping: 20th Century Women’s Clubs in Champaign County,” now online on Local History & Genealogy Digital Exhibits.

A picture of the women of the Fortnightly Club, one of a number of clubs for women in 20th century Champaign County

Read more about New Exhibit: “From Homemaking to Municipal Housekeeping: 20th Century Women’s Clubs in Champaign County”

Uncovered Gravestones in Leal Park

Leal Park, 303 W University Ave, Urbana, IL

During recent park improvements, undertaken in 2020, portions of ten gravestones from the Old Urbana Burying Ground were unearthed in Leal Park. Work ceased on the project to add additional parking spaces and an accessible path to the administration building, while the Public Service Archaeology & Architecture Program from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign assisted the Urbana Park District in complying with the State of Illinois laws regarding the protection of cemeteries. Work on the park improvements resumed, and the Public Service Archaeology & Architecture Program provided the Archives with information and digitally enhanced photographs from the project. Read more about Uncovered Gravestones in Leal Park

Recently Processed: Orphan Train Collection

Ilinois Central Train, 1856In the second half of the 19th century, welfare organizations on the East Coast were looking for ways to find homes for orphaned and homeless children. Their solution, beginning in 1854, was to send children to rural areas across the country, primarily the Midwest. Organizations such as the Children’s Aid Society and the New York Juvenile Asylum sent children by train to these areas, where they were placed in homes to work, often on farms, and to receive an education. These trains have since been labeled “Orphan Trains,” and many traveled to Champaign-Urbana and surrounding communities. Read more about Recently Processed: Orphan Train Collection

Chanute Spotlight: Commanding Officer Fay R. Upthegrove

Portrait of Colonel Fay Roscoe Upthegrove (1905-1992) On July 5, 1943, Colonel Fay Roscoe Upthegrove (1905-1992) led an Allied air bombardment group in an attack on an enemy Airdrome in Northern Africa. As Upthegrove and his men approached the field, 12 enemy fighters attacked. Colonel Upthegrove evaded enemy attack and pushed his bombardment group to wreak havoc upon enemy installations. In their escape, Upthegrove and his men faced over 100 enemy fighters in a fierce 20-minute air skirmish. Upthegrove skillfully maneuvered his aircraft and unified his bombardment group into a tight defensive formation. With this effort, Upthegrove’s force destroyed 35 enemy aircraft and he escaped alive. Read more about Chanute Spotlight: Commanding Officer Fay R. Upthegrove

Ride Down Memory Lane with C-U MTD

As the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District gears up to celebrate its 50th year of service, riders will notice some changes, including but not limited to: a new logo and slogan (a switch from “Gotta Get There” to “Thrive”), slight changes to routes, and re-designed bus stop signs.  Even the buses themselves are sporting a spiffy makeover! As a daily MTD rider, I enjoyed exploring the history of the transportation system I utilize daily.

1970 Courier headline on referendum to establish a mass transit district. Read more about Ride Down Memory Lane with C-U MTD

Pride Fest 2020: The Archives Looks Back at the LGBTQIA+ community in C-U

The Gay/Lesbian Prairie Press Letterhead, vol. 1 no. 2, pg. 1, Nov. 1990

The LGBTQIA+ community in Champaign-Urbana has a long and vibrant history. In honor of Pride Fest 2020, the Champaign County Historical Archives takes a look at a few of the many newsletters published by queer groups in C-U. These newsletters, many of which are from the 1980s and 1990s, show the strength of a community that has never been afraid to wear its pride and activism on its sleeve. Read more about Pride Fest 2020: The Archives Looks Back at the LGBTQIA+ community in C-U