Local History and Genealogy Blog

Town and Gown Speakers Series Presents: Divest Now! Student and Community Divestment Protests in the 1980s

The Town and Gown Speaker Series is sponsored by the Student Life and Culture Archives at the University of the Illinois and the Champaign County Historical Archives. Each event in the series  highlights a topic of historical significance to the campus and the community.

Join us throughout the year as we share stories of Champaign County. Our next event is: 


Divest Now!: Student and Community Divestment Protests in the 1980s

Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 7:00 pm

Location: University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St., Champaign, IL 61820


At the University of Illinois, and at campuses across the country, protesters called for an end to investments in companies with ties to South Africa. The Divest Now Coalition and the Champaign-Urbana Coalition Against Apartheid organized protests and boycotts in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, eventually forcing the University to divest funds. Join a panel of former students and administrators involved in the movement for a discussion of the protests and student activism.

Panel Members:
Lisa Dixon and Jeff Machota, student leaders of the divestment movement; 
Rhonda Kirts, student body president during the divestment movement; 
Lex Tate, former reporter for The News-Gazette and Associate Director of University Office of Public Affairs;
Bryan Savage, legal counsel for the divestment movement

Moderator: Jack Brighton, Director of New Media and Innovation, Illinois Public Media.

Interested in learning more before the event? Click HERE to view the Champaign County Historical Archives  Flickr page! You can see photographs taken during the Divestment protests and many more digital collections on Champaign County history. 


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Ever wonder about the history of your home?

The Champaign County Historical Archives recently published a new digital collection, Champaign County Homes, 1838-1920, which contains photographs of homes that were constructed during the 1838-1920 time period. Whether your house was constructed during this time period or later, the Archives has many helpful resources to get you started researching the history of a property.

Henry Sadorus house, constructed 1838                      Henry Sadorus house, constructed 1838

                                     (Scroll mouse over pictures to see captions)                                                               

William Redhed house, constructed 1857

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Sherlock Holmes Society of Champaign-Urbana

Sherlock Holmes is in the news once again with the release of the theatrical trailer for Mr. Holmes. Based on the 2005 novel, A Slight Trick of the Mind, the movie will feature Sir Ian McKellen as a long-retired version of the famous sleuth.

Can’t wait until this summer? How about engaging in some local fan fiction from The Double-Barrelled Tiger Cubs, a Sherlock Holmes society based at the University of Illinois from 1975-1986. They produced a newsletter, Afghanistanzas, full of parodies, pastiches, beautiful cover art, comprehensive Christmas guides and pre-Internet memes - movie stills with added word bubbles.

The Champaign County Historical Archives has the following issues in our Local Organizations Newsletter collection.


Afghanistanzas Vol. 7, No. 3, Issue 53 (December 1983) The Christmas Gift Issue

Vol. 7, No. 3, Issue 53 (December 1983) The Christmas Gift Issue (Editor: John Wyman)
The gifts may no longer be available from listed sellers but there is always eBay.

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Boneyard Creek and the W.P.A.

WPA relief workers laying a concrete floor in the Boneyard branch outlet.

During the heart of the Great Depression, President Roosevelt ordered the creation of the Works Progress Administration. The purpose of the W.P.A. was to get Americans back to work. W.P.A. programs included everything from building flashlights to creating major monuments. Champaign-Urbana took full advantage of this program and made vast improvements that can still be seen today. 

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Prohibition in Champaign County

On this extremely chilly Throwback Thursday, the Champaign County Historical Archives presents you with the ingredients for a hot toddy.

The liquor and stills below were the results of various raids during the Prohibition era in Champaign County. 

Liquor and stills seized during Prohibition raids

Pictured John Brider, Elmer Wolfe, William O’Neil, Assistant State Attorney, S. Gail Renner, Fred Waller, Roy Cline, and John Gray (Sheriff)

- Sherrie B., Archives Librarian 

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The Douglass Center: celebrating 70 years

A true community stalwart, the Douglas Center has been at the heart of the Urbana-Champaign African-American community for 70 years.

Conceived in the era of segregation, planning for the Douglass Community Center began in 1940 because the African-American community’s needs were not being meet with the separate and inadequate facilities available. In particular during the 1940s the community needed a recreational space for the G.I.s stationed at Chanute Field.

Spearheaded by the Douglass Community Service Committee and with the help of public funds and private donations the Douglass Community Center was dedicated September 23, 1945.

The original Douglass Community Center

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A Valentine for Urbana

Have you seen the new banners being sported in downtown Urbana?

#Urbanalove streetlight banner

A very fitting design since 160 years ago, on February 14, 1855, The City of Urbana was chartered by an act of the Illinois General Assembly.

Here is a snippet from page one of the sixteen page charter: Read more about A Valentine for Urbana

Remembering the Auler Building



202 West Green Street, once known as the Auler Building, has been slowly dismantled through these past winter months. Yet, this now nearly vacant space once held a vibrant building that housed apartment residents, and later the offices of Robert Auler. For many years the Auler Building was one of The Urbana Free Library’s closest neighbors.  On this Throwback Thursday, we would like to honor its memory. 



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