Local History and Genealogy Blog

Using FamilySearch Records

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On January 6, 2011 the Champaign County Historical Archives (CCHA) became an Affiliate Library of FamilySearch’s Research and Library System. This allowed patrons to order microfilm from FamilySearch and have it sent to CCHA for viewing. 

FamilySearch discontinued its microfilm circulation services on September 7, 2017 and has replaced it with digital access. Over 1.5 million microfilm have been digitized by FamilySearch, with additional films being scanned at a rate of 1000 films per day. They hope to have the digitization completed by the end of 2020. Read more about Using FamilySearch Records

Newspapers: Print, Microfilm, and Digital

You may already know that the Champaign County Historical Archives has a large collection of local newspapers from 1852 to the present day. In addition to well-known popular publications like the News-Gazette, Courier, and Daily Illini, we also have microfilm copies of papers from smaller communities, such as the Homer Enterprise and the Tolono Herald. If you're looking for news from one of CU's independent presses, like the Spectrum, Sidewinder, or Octopus, we have print copies available for perusal in the reading room. Read more about Newspapers: Print, Microfilm, and Digital

Name this Plane!

Can you identify the following aircraft that were flown at Chanute field? (Find the answer by clicking on each image)

Number 1

    Curtiss JN-4 Read more about Name this Plane!

A happy accident, the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America

The worst acronym award has to be granted to SPEBSQSA or the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America. I stumbled across a photograph envelope with this weighty society name one afternoon and immediately had to look inside. What I found did not disappoint. Read more about A happy accident, the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America

Janet Anderson: Community Leader

Janet Anderson Archives staff was saddened by the death of Janet Anderson, a community leader and activist, last weekend. Ms. Anderson served the public in numerous capacities: she worked as a nurse at Carle and Burnham Hospitals, participated in numerous groups promoting public health initiatives, and served on various boards, including the Champaign County Board, from 2000-2012. Her work with community groups like the League of Women Voters and Champaign County Health Care Consumers earned her numerous awards lauding her leadership and social action. Read more about Janet Anderson: Community Leader

The Circus Comes to Town!

The circus was a favorite summer pastime for residents of Champaign County in the early 20th-century. The Hagenbeck Trained Animal Show visited Champaign County on two occasions in 1905 and 1906.  Residents came from all over to see shows and parades featuring exotic animals such as bears and elephants. 

Read more about The Circus Comes to Town!

Chanute through the Decades

The Chanute Collection contains 8 folders and one oversized box of aerial photographs. The photographs were taken of the base throughout its entire operation from 1917-1993. Viewing photographs from the following decades show how Chanute transformed over the years: 


Chanute Air Force Base, 1920s
Chanute Air Force Base in the early 1920s
View of the field with the village of Rantoul behind it, looking northwest. Read more about Chanute through the Decades