Local History and Genealogy Blog

Interesting Urbana City Codes from 1954

Photo by Jon JordanWhere would our society be without laws? They are some of the most important things when it comes to keeping people safe and holding others accountable.

The enduring mystery of Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart standing with University of Illinois President Arthur C. Willard

Earhart with Arthur C. Willard, Urbana, IL, 1935 

The perennial mystery of Amelia Earhart has been in the news once again with the International Group for Historical Aircraft Recovery’s paper that ‘analyzes radio distress calls’ heard in the days after Earhart’s 1937 disappearance in her attempt to be the first woman to circumnavigate the world.

Chanute AFB Closed 25 Years Ago

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the closure of Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois. At the time the base closed its doors on September 30th, 1993, it was the third oldest active base and oldest Technical Training Center. Administration and other departments, clubs, groups, and individual personnel had managed to gather an abundance of historical records, photographs, and ephemera.

Browse Photographs Online!

Did you know you can browse thousands of historical photographs of Champaign County online? Just visit the Champaign County Historical Archives Flickr page! From daily life at Chanute, to local church architecture, our Flickr has something for everyone!

Some of our newest albums include:
The Urbana Free Library, 1949Mary E. Busey’s Gift: A Centennial Celebration of Samuel T. Busey Memorial Library – Excerpts from the exhibit honoring Mary E. Busey’s donation of $35,000 for a new library building in honor of her late husband Samuel T. Busey.

The Diary of Anna May Lindley Nelson

Nelson Diary Cover

Anna May Lindley was born circa 1870 on a farm six miles south of Urbana. Her parents were early pioneers of Philo Township and she resided in Champaign County until 1920. Between 1877 and 1909 she kept a dairy that now resides in the Champaign County Historical Archives.

Newly processed: Heitzman Architectural Survey of Champaign-Urbana

917 West University Avenue, Champaign, 1974

Above: 917 West University Ave., Champaign

The Frank Heitzman Architectural Survey of Champaign-Urbana collection is now available for public browsing. The collection contains a copy of the manuscript, The Architectural Survey of Champaign-Urbana, along with approximately 200 informational cards measuring 4” by 6” from the survey described therein. Most cards have a photographic negative measuring 1” by 1.25” attached.

Lincoln the Lawyer, a statue by Lorado Taft

Lincoln the Lawyer statue by Laredo Taft, 1943On July 3, 1927, Franklin H. Boggs, George M. Bennett, Joseph C. Blair, and Lorado Z. Taft met on the steps of the recently completed Urbana-Lincoln Hotel to give a dedication ceremony honoring the newest addition to the hotel, a bronze statue of the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, titled “Lincoln the Lawyer”. The statue was designed and sculpted by Taft, a nationally known sculptor and University of Illinois graduate. It was beautifully executed with a standing Lincoln resting his arms across a slab of stone, looking as though he is about to give a speech or offer an argument in court. 

A Bicycle Friendly Community

Bicycle sign drawing, City of Urbana Public Works Dept. Records

Today, both Champaign and Urbana are recognized as Bicycle Friendly Communities by the League of American Bicyclists. According to the organization’s website, ‘A Bicycle Friendly Community’ welcomes bicyclists by providing safe accommodations for bicycling and encouraging people to bike for transportation and recreation. Making bicycling safe and convenient are keys to improving public health, reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality and improving quality of life.’