Local History and Genealogy Blog

Candlestick Lane

Santa Claus and friends waving to passers-by on Candlestick Lane.

Whether you date the origin of Candlestick Lane from 1960 and the 10 families that gathered together on the 700 block of Fairlawn Drive to display oversized Yule cards or the neighbors on Grant Place who competed in an Illinois Power contest for the best holiday lights in 1964 it is evident that this corner of Urbana is flush with a holiday spirit that spans generations.

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Champaign County Winter Wonderland

Stop by the Champaign County Historical Archives (on the second floor of The UFL) and view our new exhibit, “Champaign County Winter Wonderland.” We have winter themed photographs and newspaper advertisements from 1890-1980, World War I correspondence from Army nurse Nettie Irle Mills describing Christmas in a French Red Cross facility, and other artifacts from our Local History and Genealogy collections.  

Kids building snow fort.

Kids building snow fort, 1985. 


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Weather got you sticking close to home and hearth these days?

Fear not we have the perfect balm for your cloistered soul – peanut butter fudge.

Today is Peanut Butter Fudge day! To help you with your preparations here are some local recipes from our community cookbook collection.  

First up is Ruth Sharpton’s recipe in Bone Appetit! Favorite Recipes compiled by the Champaign County Humane Society. These recipes are guaranteed to be doggone easy & purrfectly delicious.

recipe for Peanut Butter Fudge using marshmallow creme

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Winter is Coming

Champaign County residents at the turn of the twentieth century knew how to travel
through the Midwest snow and ice in style. Pictured here is a horse-drawn sleigh
outside of the William Redhed residence in Tolono, circa 1890. 

Source: "William Redhed House, Tolono, and unidentified women in a horse-drawn

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New Digital Collections in the Archives

Train wreck We’ve added 3 new albums to our digital collections. They feature the Illinois Central Railroad, African American Community leaders, and churches throughout Champaign County.  

Illinois Central Railroad

Train wreck


The Illinois Central Railroad Company, incorporated in 1851, took advantage of an 1850 charter that allowed using public land for railroads. Its first railroad would run diagonally northwest with a branch to Chicago. In Champaign, a Power House was built on Wabash with barns for housing and repairing trains nearby, the freight house was located off Neil, the tower was put east of the freight house and along the Belt Line and the station was on University St.  In Urbana, the depot was on Broadway with its powerhouse off Main.


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Resource Alert: The National Archives is offering its 9th Annual Virtual Genealogy Fair, October 28-30

The National Archives will once again be offering its Virtual Genealogy Fair on October 28, 29, & 30, starting daily at 10 a.m. eastern time. This will be a live broadcast via the Internet so you can ask the genealogy experts questions at the end of their talks. The entire event is free, open to all, and requires no registration.

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This Week at the Archives

We are closing out American Archives Month  with a bang as we prep for 3 events this week. Whether you are interested in the discoveries made by local authors during the research process, kid-friendly genealogy activities, or oral history there is an event for you.  We hope to see you as we finsh up celebrating Archives Month. 

Authors Panel Poster  Discover Your Family's Story Poster    Oral History Workshop Poster

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