Local History and Genealogy Blog

The Man Himself: Octave Chanute

When we talk about the Chanute Air Force Base, we really should start with the man behind the name: Octave Chanute. Octave Chanute was an engineer, a pioneer of modern aviation, and the focus of the Subject Files: Octave Chanute collection. In the Subject Files: Octave Chanute collection, you can find information that celebrates one of the first men in the sky. Photographs and diagrams of his gliders accompany newspaper clippings, correspondence, and information about his life and work. There is even material about Chanute, Kansas, the town named for Octave, in the collection.

Octave Chanute Portrait

A high-flying historical figure you many not have heard of!

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Medicinal Advertisements

Ailments are a fact of life. They happen to all of us at some point. Whether it is a headache, a sore throat, or a stomach ache, a wide variety of products are available to treat what ails us. What better way to advertise to potential customers than to place an ad in the paper? Unfortunately, many past medicinal ads and the products they were designed to sell were often questionable. Despite that, they were featured in the newspapers of yesteryear. Here is an assortment of ads for medicinal products. Read more about Medicinal Advertisements

Where's Walter? Searching for Clues in Obituaries

A Dillman family researcher recently wrote to the Archives with a question about his ancestor, Walter Dillman. He wanted to know where and when Walter died. The researcher already had some family background information and a transcription he made of an obituary from the Find a Grave website. The transcription stated that Walter Dillman (1881-1946), was buried in Yearsley Cemetery in Champaign County, IL. He stated that the name and date of the newspaper were not given. *Some assumptions were made when he transcribed the article, one that was incorrect and the other that was at least partly correct.

Find a Grave Obituary

Walter Dillman's obituary from Find a Grave Read more about Where's Walter? Searching for Clues in Obituaries

A Winter Treat for the Summer Heat

We may be in the heat of the summer, but that does not mean you cannot enjoy some local history inspired by the winter holiday season. Over the last few months, I began to digitize the archives' Fred and Betty Turner Woodblock Print Christmas Card exhibit done by Erica Stark on our Local History & Genealogy Digital Exhibits website. To add a little more context to the former exhibit, I expanded upon the previous content by selecting a sample of six Turner prints and writing histories about the subject matter represented. My goal is to offer our readers a glimpse into why these parts of our history likely caught the eye of and inspired Fred and Betty Turner. Of the six prints I chose, three are of Champaign County structures, one is from Vermilion County, and the other two from Prairie du Rocher and Chicago. 

Fred Turner print

Fred Turner Etching Print

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Cemetery, Funeral Home, and Death Records in Champaign County

Every day genealogists use our cemetery books, funeral home records, and death records. They sift through their family legacies, write books, study history, or just try to understand everything they can about how burials were handled in the past. This blog highlights the different types of death records available at the Champaign County Historical Archives. 

Cemetery books

Cemetery Books

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21-Cent International Airmail Stamps Featuring Octave Chanute & His Biplane Hang Glider

In 1896, Octave Chanute, namesake of Chanute Air Force Base, designed his famous biplane hang glider. This design became the standard for future gliders. To show appreciation for his influence on aeronautics, two 21-cent international airmail stamps were released depicting Octave Chanute and his biplane hang glider. These stamps were first sold on March 29, 1979 in Chanute, Kansas. Chanute served as the first day city (where a new stamp is first sold). The release of the stamps was accompanied by a ceremony in the city of Chanute. Read more about 21-Cent International Airmail Stamps Featuring Octave Chanute & His Biplane Hang Glider

Early Criminal Cases in Urbana

When Americans reached the western frontier in the early 19th century and founded towns, they brought family, friends, culture, and new customs. Schools were built, churches erected, streets laid, and government buildings constructed to create an infrastructure akin to their former homes in the eastern U.S. As towns went up, populations grew, and laws were implemented to maintain perceived societal norms. Breaking those laws meant you had to answer to local law enforcement. Read more about Early Criminal Cases in Urbana

Champaign 2060

In 2010, the City of Champaign celebrated its 150th birthday. One of the ways they chose to mark this special occasion was to have local residents, mainly youth, write letters for residents 50 years into the future. These letters, addressed to those who will reside in Champaign in 2060, tell us a lot about what life was like in Champaign in 2010. The letters include city traditions, best places to go, memories, and hopes and dreams for the future. What they all share is the spirit of those who live in Champaign. Featured here are a couple of the letters from the book. One of the letters is from a student, and the other is from former mayor, Dan McCollum, who served as mayor from 1987 to 1999.

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