Local History and Genealogy Blog

Say Goodbye to Winter!

kids building a snow Fort, 1985

Kids build a snow fort, 1985

With the snow storm this past weekend, it may be easy to forget that winter is on its way out. Here is a look at some of my favorite Champaign County winter pictures for your enjoyment.

The 505th Air Force Band

505th Air Force Band of the Midwest, circa 1960


Above is the 505th Air Force Band of the Midwest during their photoshoot with a Boeing B-52D bomber.

Champaign’s gambling hotspots in 1937

Floor plan for the Turf Club located at 113 ½ & 115½ N. Market St., Champaign In 1937, an unnamed Evening Courier reporter made a survey of the gambling conditions in Champaign. His 9-part series appeared nightly in the Evening Courier beginning April 29, 1937 and ending May 9, 1937. He found that even though gambling houses were hidden behind ambiguously marked doors, steep staircases, and peepholes, they were an open secret available to anyone. 

Scanning at the Archives

Epson 10000 flatbed scanner computer station

Scanning station with the flatbed Epson 10000 scanner attached to a computer. 


Here in the Archives we are often asked about our scanning capabilities. Below you will find some of our most asked questions and their answers:

Mapping America: The History of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

If you’ve ever done historical research at your local library or archives, you’ve probably heard of Sanborn Fire Insurance maps. But what are they exactly, and what type of historical information do they contain?

What a Picture Can Tell You…

Horse-drawn dairy wagon, with young teenage male standing in wagon door  Reverse of dairy wagon photograph

E.N. Kirby Dairy was owned by Eugene N. Kirby. He was born in Edwardsville, IL in 1871. By the late 1890s, according to the city directories, he was working for Charles A. Haines a dairyman in Champaign. In 1903, Kirby married Haines’ daughter Carrie Amelia Haines, and eventually opened a diary under his own name. Both the Haines farm and the Kirby residence were on the border of sections 13 and 24 in Champaign Township the current location of Kirby Avenue by Hessel Park.

Historic Theaters of Champaign County

Eichberg's Building, 1914Champaign County is home to many historic theaters. From vaudeville venues to movie theaters, theater entertainment has deep roots in the culture of Champaign County.

Magnavox Company, Urbana

 Magnavox company, Urbana, Illinois

Recently, the community has been discussing the property of the Dart/Solo Cup plant located on the corner of Washington Street and Lierman Avenue in Urbana, former home to Urbana’s Magnavox plant. Check out the links below to Tom’s Mailbag from the News-Gazette to learn more about the conversation: