Local History and Genealogy Blog

Holiday Gift Guide

The gift-giving season is upon us! However, it is often hard to come up with ideas of what to give your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Worry not. This handy gift guide comes packed with ideas. Gathered from advertisements found in old newspapers, this guide is sure to help you find gifts for everyone on your list. Read more about Holiday Gift Guide

Exploring Title Abstracts

Title abstracts can be great sources of information for people looking for the history of a property or subdivision. Title abstracts follow the chain of ownership, usually from the original sale by the government or other agency, through to the date of the most recent abstract. The abstract is a packet that includes legal documents pertaining to the property, notably the deed records and mortgages, and list where those documents are recorded. Each abstract is different but may include documents such as mortgage releases, tax sales, easements, surveys, land plats, annexations, and subdivision plats. They can also contain restrictions, lawsuits, liens, wills, special taxes, or utility assessments. If your property is located where coal, oil, natural gas, or another mineral deposit has been found, the abstract may also contain information about mineral rights.

Title Abstract Survey Read more about Exploring Title Abstracts

How to “Fun” Your Way Around Chanute: Chanute’s Free Time Recreation Magazine

The open houses hosted by the Chanute Air Force Base were a way to involve the community, opening their doors to civilian and military personnel, as well as the neighboring community. In the Open House Files collection, there are papers, correspondence, itineraries, and pamphlets surrounding the running of the Chanute Air Force Base open house events. Another document found in this collection, in box 2, folder 1, is the June 1982 copy of Free Time, Chanute’s recreation magazine. In this magazine, there are calendars of food and fun as part of National Recreation Month!

Cover of Free Time

Happy National Recreation Month! Read more about How to “Fun” Your Way Around Chanute: Chanute’s Free Time Recreation Magazine

Photographs on View at the Tolono Public Library

As leaves turn red and temperatures drop each autumn, we know that winter is slowly creeping up on us in Illinois. Have you ever wondered how the winters of the 21st century compare to those of the 20th? Prepare for the coming cold weather by joining the Tolono Public Library District and the Champaign County Historical Archives for a peek into Illinois’ wintery past.

Train in Snow Read more about Photographs on View at the Tolono Public Library

PACA Digitization Project

One of the most common questions we get here in the Archives is regarding the history of a patron’s home. When was it built? Who was the architect? Do we have any archival photographs?

My name is Savannah Adams, and I am the Archives Apprentice for the Champaign County Historical Archives of The Urbana Free Library. I am a first-year graduate student at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, working towards a MS in Library Science and Information. My focus is on archival materials, special collections, and library preservation. I’m digitizing and cataloging recently acquired building and home surveys conducted by the Preservation and Conservation Association (PACA) in Champaign County for my first semester project.

Read more about PACA Digitization Project

New Flickr Album: Champaign County Fires

Here in the Archives, we have recently received several questions about the Urbana fire of 1871. While searching for information, I came across several photograph envelopes that relate to fires throughout Champaign County. I learned that the area is no stranger to fires. The 1970s and 80s were particularly eventful for fire departments. Despite the tragedy and loss that fires can cause, several area businesses (including the library) survived through them and are still with us today. Read more about New Flickr Album: Champaign County Fires

Beyond Flight: Chanute Air Force Base Hospital 1931-1933

While we know about the role of Chanute as an Air Force Base and Technical Training Center, there were also a wide variety of non-military or training-related departments on the base. One such department was the Chanute Air Force Base Hospital, which saw births, deaths, and injuries through its 76-year history. Read more about Beyond Flight: Chanute Air Force Base Hospital 1931-1933

The Life of a Rural Midwestern Woman

In honor of International Day of Rural Women on October 15th, let’s take a look at an item from the Chanute Subject Files Collection that celebrates rural women’s historic contributions. Don Weckhorst, base historian at the Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum at the Chanute Air Force Base, visited many museums around the United States to get ideas, network, and bring back materials for his own research. One visit in particular caught my attention, to the Richard E. Oetken Heritage Museum in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Read more about The Life of a Rural Midwestern Woman