Local History and Genealogy Blog

Greetings from Chanute!: Unidentified Flying Objects and Chanute Air Force Base

On May 9th, 1971, an Indiana man visited the Vermillion River Observatory operated by the University of Illinois in Danville to view the dish antenna. He arrived a little before 10pm and brought a set of binoculars with him to see a detailed view of the structure. As he investigated the antenna, he noticed an object in the sky that quickly approached from the southwest. He immediately set down the binoculars and grabbed his Polaroid camera, hoping to get a photograph of the approaching object. As he snapped a photo, the object silently moved nearer to the observatory in the quiet night. The craft moved overhead and the quiet eerily transformed into a loud humming noise. The man looked into the sky and saw an object “as black as the Ace of Spades – like burned metal,” with no lights emanating from its surface. The object was larger than the antenna and spun like a top.  The man fumbled his camera in an attempt to take another photograph and the object quickly disappeared into the night, leaving him in shock and disbelief. Read more about Greetings from Chanute!: Unidentified Flying Objects and Chanute Air Force Base

Recently Processed Women's Groups (Part 2)

Seven collections of women’s groups have recently been processed by Archives staff and are now available for researchers.

Part 2 highlights the National Council of Negro Women and the Medra Club.

Part 1 introduced W.I.R.E. Records, Daughters of Union Veterans Records, and the Near O’Kin Bridge Group.

The next and final part will feature Fortnightly Club Records and Carley Friendship Club Records. Read more about Recently Processed Women's Groups (Part 2)

Heart of Urbana Gremlin

“Roses are red, violets are blue;
A peek onto Main Street,
Will provide a story for you.”
                                                           - The Heart of Urbana Gremlin

Heart left by Urbana Gremlin published in March 5, 1979, Courier The Morning Courier awoke to that mysterious greeting on their doorstep, February 14, 1979. Looking down the street, Courier reporters discovered that parking meters and store and office doors in the downtown Urbana area were festooned with Valentine’s greetings of red ribbon apparently the work of Urbana’s ‘Gremlin.’ Read more about Heart of Urbana Gremlin

Famous People from C-U: The Time Has Come

Portrait of Ludacris

Christopher Brian Bridges, son of Roberta Shields and Wayne Brian Bridges, was born in Champaign, Illinois on September 11th, 1977. Christopher spent his early years in the Champaign-Urbana area. At nine years old, Christopher moved to Chicago with his mother after his parents divorced. In Chicago, he attended Oak Park & River Forest High School. Christopher and his mother then relocated to Atlanta, Georgia where he finished high school and attended Georgia State University studying music management. Read more about Famous People from C-U: The Time Has Come

Interesting Ordinances from Urbana, 1916

Seal of the City of Urbana, Ill.Our first post about Urbana City Codes was from 1954. After seeing some of the interestingly worded codes from that year what will Ordinances of City of Urbana Illinois of 1916 have in store? Read on to find out.

For those ordinances that still exist in some form, the current code will be listed. The current Code of Ordinances City of Urbana, Illinois can be found on Municode. Read more about Interesting Ordinances from Urbana, 1916

Fred Turner Woodblock Prints

Cattle Bank Building, Champaign, IL 1973

Every Christmas from 1946-1974, friends of Fred and Betty Turner received an original woodblock-printed card. Soon after Christmas, planning for the next year, the couple would choose a historical Illinois building or structure, take a photograph, then design, carve and print the image by hand. Their theme was “Illinois History through Woodblock Prints.”

Read more about Fred Turner Woodblock Prints

Every veteran has a story. Make sure yours is heard.

Home to the former Chanute Air Force Base for 76 years, Champaign County has a long history of wartime participation and civilian support. 

World War I soldiers marching by Champaign First National Bank.

This Veterans Day, The Urbana Free Library would like to make its patrons aware of the Illinois Veterans’ History Project. The project in conjunction with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, creates a permanent record of the names and stories of Illinois war veterans and civilians who served during wartime. Read more about Every veteran has a story. Make sure yours is heard.

Vriner’s Confectionary: the flavor of a bygone era

Vriner’s Confectionery interior, ca 1919

Sugary, sweet treats have been a highly traded and well-loved food for over a millennium, and by the 1800s over 380 factories were built in the United States to manufacture candy. Many of the larger manufacturers have withstood the change in time, allowing their names to become synonymous with the fast approaching holiday season, but we often forget about the smaller confectionary shops they started out as. At the turn of the 20th century, we had a few shops that called Champaign County home. The longest running one was Vriner’s Confectionary. Read more about Vriner’s Confectionary: the flavor of a bygone era