Local History and Genealogy Blog

From Mansion to Medicine

Harris Mansion, 1947

In the early 1900s, the Burnham-Harris Mansion at the corner of Prospect and Church in Champaign was one of the best addresses in town. Located at 809 W. Church Street, it was the hub of social life in Champaign, and an invitation to an event there was always a coveted ticket.  Read more about From Mansion to Medicine

Chanute Spotlight: The Trade Winds Service Club

Pool Hall at Trade Winds, 1966

Chanute Air Force Base offered considerable entertainment for base personnel. Previous blog posts referenced the Chandelle Club and the YMCA/USO on base, but those were only two of the many options young men and women at the base and in Champaign County could choose to enjoy. Another option was Trade Winds, a service club that opened in 1956 and was renovated in 1965. Trade Winds was open seven days a week and entertained an average of 360,000 persons annually. The building itself had 33,574 square feet of floor space. It included a 4,472 square foot dance hall, four record rooms with a library of over 1,000 records, loanable music instruments, a game room with eight pool tables and three ping-pong tables, two TV rooms, one card playing room, a writing room, and an airmen's' lounge. There was also a family lounge and a combo room used for weddings and events. 

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Summer of Baseball, 1895 edition

In 1895, Kuhn & Son organized a baseball team called the Clippers. Playing sixteen games, they won eleven, including a nine-game streak. Their first game was a doubleheader against Danville on the Fourth of July. Despite the luck they would have towards the end of their season, they lost both the doubleheader games.

Photograph of Kuhn’s Clippers in 1895 with the Jos Kuhn & Co. slogan on their jerseys

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Greetings from Chanute!: Donald O. Weckhorst and Non-Verbal Communication

Donald Weckhorst's instruction booklet. Cover reads "Non-Verbal Communication" and is surrounded by several images of signs, facial expresions, sign lanuage, and traffic signs. Anybody who regularly reads my blog posts is aware that I am a huge fan of former base historian Chief Master Sergeant Donald O. Weckhorst. Weckhorst arrived at Chanute in 1952 and dedicated nearly his entire life to the base, including researching and authoring the 75-year pictorial history of Chanute Air Force Base, helping found the Chanute Heritage Foundation, and founding the Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum. One of Weckhorst’s pet projects at the base during his final years of active duty was the creation of the non-verbal communication program. According to Weckhorst, “nonverbal communication is sometimes called ‘body language, but that is not entirely accurate---there is more than the body involved.” He described nonverbal communication as the study of body language, also known as kinesics, which Mirriam-Webster’s defined as “a systematic study of the relationship between nonlinguistic body motions (as blushes, shrugs, or eye movement) and communication. Read more about Greetings from Chanute!: Donald O. Weckhorst and Non-Verbal Communication

Intern Reflection: Working with the Chanute Collection

Greetings from Chanute postcard image with an airplane in clack and white

Greetings from Chanute Field postcard

Hi, I'm Rosemary Froeliger 2019-2020 Archives intern, and I have been asked by the Director of the Champaign County Historical Archive (CCHA) to reflect on my time working on the Chanute Collection. I have enjoyed reviewing all the work that my fellow intern Kevin and I have accomplished in what feels like a very short school year.

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From the Mailbox: How did Race Street Get its Name? (Otherwise known as a Day in an Archivist's Life)

200 Block of Race Street, September 27, 1944So, what do archivists do? Here at the CCHA, we have a clever meme in our office that explains how the different people in our lives imagine our occupation. It suggests our friends believe we are surrounded by a mess of old books in stuffy stacks, that our family sees us as old curmudgeons browsing through dusty tomes, and that society sees us as genealogical wizards. While some of these characteristics are true to some extent, what we actually do is more nuanced, varied, and interesting. Read more about From the Mailbox: How did Race Street Get its Name? (Otherwise known as a Day in an Archivist's Life)

Update! Digitally Accessible Chanute Collection Finding Aids

The interns that worked on the Chanute Collection over the course of 2019-2020 are happy to present digitally accessible finding aids for the collections that have been processed since the collection was obtained in 2016. These collections will be accessible to the public. If you are interested in viewing these materials, please contact the archives staff at least 48 hours ahead of time. You can digitally access the finding aids here: Chanute Collection Finding Aids. Read more about Update! Digitally Accessible Chanute Collection Finding Aids

Chanute Spotlight: Octave Chanute, “The God-father of Aviation”

Octave Chanute Portrait, stylized with a glider plane and a jet plane

We have talked about the many different men and women who have passed through Chanute Air Force Base and all of the great things they have accomplished. However, the man whose name the base carries is not as widely known. A renowned engineer, who would spend his later years working with notable figures like the Wright brothers, Octave Chanute's early work helped lay the foundation for human flight and the technical training that would later be achieved at Chanute Air Force Base.  Read more about Chanute Spotlight: Octave Chanute, “The God-father of Aviation”