Local History and Genealogy Blog

Grateful Dead Descend on Assembly Hall

For just three special cosmic nights in Champaign County history, the Grateful Dead brought the eyes of the world onto Assembly Hall. After years of rumors, the Dead would play in Champaign. They finally made their first visit for a two-night run of concerts on February 21st and 22nd, 1973.

Photograph negatives of the Grateful Dead

Negatives of the Grateful Dead at Assembly Hall in 1973. The Grateful Dead Archive, University of California at Santa Barbara Read more about Grateful Dead Descend on Assembly Hall

Alberta Claire: The Girl from Wyoming

Throughout American history one of our nation’s strongest assets has been our entertainment industry. From the celebrity of Benjamin Franklin wooing the French court to support the American Revolution to the modern world of social media, Americans have traded on their ability to entertain for nearly two and a half centuries. Read more about Alberta Claire: The Girl from Wyoming

WWII Office of Price Administration Tokens

The Archives recently received a donation that included 67 very interesting World War II OPA tokens. At first glance, I wasn’t sure what they were. They are slightly smaller than a dime and appear to be made out of wood and paper (it turns out they are made out of vulcanized fiber). The only variation among the tokens is two small letters surrounding the one in the center. After a little research, I found out that these are Office of Price Administration (OPA) tokens. Read more about WWII Office of Price Administration Tokens

Where on Earth in Champaign County: Township Numbers, Ranges, and Directions

When looking at a Title Abstract or the Grantor/Grantee index, one can find the legal description of a piece of land along with its location. For example, The Urbana Free Library is located in Section 17 of Township 19 north, Range 9 east. This refers to the Library’s location on a plat map.

Plat Map Read more about Where on Earth in Champaign County: Township Numbers, Ranges, and Directions

Huey's Store: What's Not on the Shelves...Is on the Floor

When Huey Rasner opened his new variety store in Urbana in October 1957, he modeled it after the “general store” concept where everything was available at a discount price. He called his new concept “Huey’s Store” and it was located at 105 ½ E. University Avenue in Urbana. Huey laid claim to having the first discount store in Champaign-Urbana.

Aerial View of Huey's Read more about Huey's Store: What's Not on the Shelves...Is on the Floor

Documenting the Chanute Experience: The Collection of Leo W. Streff

Before the Champaign County Historical Archives became the home of the Chanute Collection, the records lived at the Chanute Aerospace Museum. The Chanute Aerospace Museum benefitted from the donations of many Chanute alumni. These donations often show a different side of life on the base. One of these donations, from the family of LT. Col. Leo W. Streff, consists of photographs, scrapbook pages, letters, and event pamphlets, just to name a few items. Read more about Documenting the Chanute Experience: The Collection of Leo W. Streff

News-Gazette Collection Update

On June 15, 2020, the Champaign County Historical Archives of The Urbana Free Library became the new home for the News-Gazette’s archival holdings. Over 1,000 square feet of materials were transferred to the Library in a semi-truck packed to capacity. The collection is currently housed on the lower level of the Lincoln Square Mall, across the street from the Library. Read more about News-Gazette Collection Update

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.

This idea from a Sholem Shoe Store ad in the August 5, 1920, Courier is for the shoe lovers in your life.

Sholem Shoe Store Ad 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