Local History and Genealogy Blog

Happy Valentine's Day!

In honor of Valentine’s Day and all things romantic, here is Champaign County’s first issued marriage license, filed July 25, 1833.

A Sad Case

I had to chuckle at this piece from the Champaign County Gazette, which describes an addled husband disoriented from his wife's specific and verbose instructions for her dressmaker. No wonder he suffered "great mental distress."

Art Club of Champaign's 1884 Exhibit

Art Club Picnic, date unknown
 
During the Civil War, American women coordinated efforts to deliver supplies and uniforms to the front lines and to hospitals, acted as nurses on the battlefield, and worked in industrial and farming jobs vacated by men who had gone to fight. In the years following these same women found themselves without an outlet for the administrative skills the war years had cultivated. Perhaps more importantly they yearned for the camaraderie these activities had provided. Industrial and technological advances alleviated the time-consuming labor of homemaking, creating idle leisure time many women had never before experienced. 

Year of the Rooster

Bob Gilbert with a Rooster, printed in the News-Gazette April 10, 1985

January 28th is Chinese New Year, and it's the Year of the Rooster! 

Urbana Elementary Schools Desegregated in 1966

This weekend the cities of Urbana and Champaign along with Parkland College and the University of Illinois celebrated the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Countywide Celebration. This year, the event honored six community members for their efforts to desegregate the Urbana elementary schools in 1966. The Champaign County Historical Archives has records pertinent to these events, available for use within the Archives Reading Room.

Headline from the Urbana Courier, 27 July 1966

Chanute Airmen Feed the Birds

Chanute Air Force Base (1917-1993) located in Rantoul, Illinois was nationally known for its training of pilots, mechanics, aerial photographers, firefighters, and missile technicians, but locally the personnel were active members of the Rantoul and wider Champaign County community. One incident I uncovered recently highlights this relationship beautifully.

Collection Highlight: Oral Histories

Transcripts of The Urbana Free Library Local History Roundtable discussions

While spending time with your family over the holidays, chances are you heard stories about the “good old days” from your grandparents, aunts or uncles, or parents. Perhaps you can’t get enough of these reminiscences. If that’s the case, check out the Champaign County Historical Archives collection of over 250 oral histories.

The Illustrious Sale Siblings

Champaign-Urbana is no stranger to the entertainment industry: it is the boyhood home of Roger Ebert; the birthplace of music group REO Speedwagon and super-villain computer HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey; and was recently the filming site of a Danny Glover movie. However, in the first half of the twentieth century, Champaign-Urbana’s biggest stars were Charles (known professionally as “Chic”) and Virginia Sale, who grew up on Main Street in Urbana.

Happy New Year and Happy Birthday, 66 Years Later

                                                                                                                                                           Photo of Timothy Gaile Mecum