Local History and Genealogy Blog

Newspapers: Print, Microfilm, and Digital

You may already know that the Champaign County Historical Archives has a large collection of local newspapers from 1852 to the present day. In addition to well-known popular publications like the News-Gazette, Courier, and Daily Illini, we also have microfilm copies of papers from smaller communities, such as the Homer Enterprise and the Tolono Herald. If you're looking for news from one of CU's independent presses, like the Spectrum, Sidewinder, or Octopus, we have print copies available for perusal in the reading room.

Name this Plane!

Can you identify the following aircraft that were flown at Chanute field? (Find the answer by clicking on each image)

Number 1

    Curtiss JN-4

FamilySearch has extended its microfilm order deadline

Last month FamilySearch announced it was discontinuing its microfilm loan program and set an order deadline of August 31, 2017. Due to system outages during the week of August 20, 2017 FamilySearch has decided to extend circulation an additional week. The new order deadline is September 7, 2017.

History Mystery: CU’s Coffee Pot Restaurant

We get a lot of interesting questions through our Ask an Archivist service, where anyone can call, write, or email their queries about Champaign County history. Recently, I received a fun question that read, in part:

Can you help me, please?

Janet Anderson: Community Leader

Janet Anderson Archives staff was saddened by the death of Janet Anderson, a community leader and activist, last weekend. Ms. Anderson served the public in numerous capacities: she worked as a nurse at Carle and Burnham Hospitals, participated in numerous groups promoting public health initiatives, and served on various boards, including the Champaign County Board, from 2000-2012. Her work with community groups like the League of Women Voters and Champaign County Health Care Consumers earned her numerous awards lauding her leadership and social action.

The Circus Comes to Town!

The circus was a favorite summer pastime for residents of Champaign County in the early 20th-century. The Hagenbeck Trained Animal Show visited Champaign County on two occasions in 1905 and 1906.  Residents came from all over to see shows and parades featuring exotic animals such as bears and elephants. 

Chanute through the Decades

The Chanute Collection contains 8 folders and one oversized box of aerial photographs. The photographs were taken of the base throughout its entire operation from 1917-1993. Viewing photographs from the following decades show how Chanute transformed over the years: 


Chanute Air Force Base, 1920s
Chanute Air Force Base in the early 1920s
View of the field with the village of Rantoul behind it, looking northwest.

Virginia Lovingfoss, 1914-2017, Volunteer Extraordinaire

Virginia Lovingfoss on her 100th birthday

The Archives is sad to announce that longtime volunteer Virginia Lovingfoss passed away July 19, 2017 just a month shy of her 103rd birthday. She began volunteering at the Archives in 1986 and only ‘retired’ from her volunteer activities after she turned 100.

League of Women Voters and Housing in Champaign-Urbana

The League of Women Voters of Champaign County is a nonpartisan grassroots organization. Nationally, the group was formed in 1920, months before the ratification of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.