Local History and Genealogy Blog

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

Chanute Spotlight: Charles M. Leonard

Charles M. Leonard was born December 25, 1886 to a Mrs. J. H. Leonard at 630 East Avenue in Elyria, Ohio. Leonard attended three years of high school in Elyria before moving on to Oberlin College. During this time, he met his wife, Donna Russell, and they had three children together. Leonard became a civil engineer prior to enlisting in the military. On August 27, 1917, he became a candidate for the Second Officers’ Training School at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana and officially joined the armed services. Leonard was commissioned 1st Lieutenant Infantry on November 27th of the same year and joined the 165th Depot Brigade. On February 27, 1918, he transferred to the Aviation Section Signal Reserve Corps at Kelly field and remained on duty until April 6 when he entered the school of military aeronautics in Columbus, Ohio.

Group Photo

Leonard is in the first row, left of center Read more about Chanute Spotlight: Charles M. Leonard

Monument Company Records: Another Primary Source for Cemetery Research

One often overlooked resource in cemetery research are records of the various monument companies who made the gravestones. The information in these records varies but may include details about the deceased and the person ordering the gravestone. These records usually include the date the order was placed, size and type of stone used, cost, and where and when it was to be delivered. Some entries include drawings of how the stone would look, and other orders were cancelled or never made. Since some of the orders were placed months or years after a death occurred, the records may not always be accurate, or a correction may have been made in a later entry. These records can take the mystery out of unreadable gravestones and give the researcher a starting point for the death and burial location.

Read more about Monument Company Records: Another Primary Source for Cemetery Research