Local History and Genealogy Blog

Riding the Rails to a New Life: The Orphan Trains

By the middle of the nineteenth century, New York City was teaming with new immigrants, with more coming every day. These new families often found themselves in dire circumstances, surrounded by poverty and disease. As a result, many children ended up without parents, orphaned and left wandering the streets. The plight of these children did not go unnoticed, and soon several orphanages and aid societies developed to assist them.

Roger Ebert, Legendary film critic and Urbana native, dies at 70.

It is with great sadness that we share the news of the death of Urbana native, and esteemed film critic, Roger Ebert.



Roger Joseph Ebert, was born on June 18, 1942, in Urbana, Ill. He attended Urbana High School and the University of Illinois.

Erma Bridgewater 1913-2013

It is with great sadness that we share the news of the death of Mrs. Erma Bridgewater.  

Services to celebrate her life will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 6, at the Bethel A.M.E. Church with the Rev. Larry Lewis officiating. Visitation will be held from 6-8 p.m. Friday at the church.

Research Nights at the Archives – Now enhanced with special topics!

Beginning in April, our monthly Research Nights will frequently feature discussions and demonstrations on special topics.

Research Nights are open to the public. There is no charge or registration required. We look forward to seeing you!


April 10, 2013 - SPECIAL TOPIC: PERSI (Periodical Source Index)

HeritageQuest Online - Focus on Archives Resources

Many researchers that visit us are familiar with research resources such as Ancestry.com. Today I'd like to focus on one that doesn't get quite as much recognition: HeritageQuest Online. HeritageQuest Online is a collection of databases, all of which are very useful to history and genealogical researchers. Included under its umbrella are:

Book Launch Event - A Place in Time: Two Paths to a Television Program

Please join us Wednesday, February 27, from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. as we welcome University of Illinois Assistant Professor Kevin Hamilton for a discussion of his new comic book A Place in Time: Two Paths to a Television Broadcast. The book explores the paths taken to a broadcast of "Public Broadcasting Lab" that took place at the Illini Union in 1968.