Local History and Genealogy Blog

A Mother's Obituary


Irmgard Haken and her youngest son, Rudolf, 1982

I have been indexing obituaries for the past 5 years from the News-Gazette into Local History Online, the online catalog for the holdings of the Champaign County Historical Archives.

Photographs from Chanute’s Annual Open House

Chanute Air Force Base held Open Houses for the citizens of Champaign County from 1926 until the base closed in 1993. Thousands of people attended the Open House celebrations to watch air shows, see airplane exhibits, and meet the Air Force soldiers.

Chanute AFB Open House Program, August 1945

Sometimes April Showers bring April Flowers…

photo of plant, Wild Geranium

It is spring wildflower season in east central Illinois. Time to take yourself to the woods to see Jack-in-the-pulpit, dutchman’s breeches, toothwort, trillium, dog tooth violet, blue-eye Mary, and Virginia bluebells.

Researchers at Burnham City Hospital, 1942

I came across this photograph recently while compiling images for our Flickr page. It is of Dr. Max Appel and Elizabeth Chase, Ph.D., at Burnham City Hospital. The photograph was used in a News-Gazette feature photograph about the hospital’s new cancer control center (“Cancer Control Clinic,” 23 August 1942, p. 8).

Chanute Air Force Base Celebrates Women

My name is Liz Wittrig and I joined the Champaign County Historical Archives as an intern in February. I am a graduate student at the University of Illinois’ School of Library and Information Science and will be working in the Archives to process the Chanute Collection.

G.C. Willis Storefront Displays

The G.C. Willis Department store opened its doors in Champaign in 1872. Forty years later, the enterprise moved to an imposing edifice on Main Street.

John W. Vance: The “Father of Champaign County”

Born in 1782, John W. Vance spent his youth in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Ohio. As youngster he and his brother, Joseph Colville Vance, chopped and delivered wood to stoke the fires of the salt works near their home. Later, they bought a team of oxen to haul salt to pioneer families in the Kentucky wilderness. This enterprise grew into a salt distribution company based in Urbana, Ohio.


Welles Cemetery, Compromise Township, Champaign County


The Champaign County Historical Archives, as repository for the county, maintains a microfilm collection of local newspapers going back the late-1800’s. My focus today will be on newspaper obituaries, and how they have been accessed over the years by historians and genealogists, and how you can access them today.

Lincoln Firsts in Urbana

Abraham Lincoln’s birthday was this Sunday and next Monday is President’s Day, the national observance of Lincoln and George Washington’s births. Lincoln spent his early law career on the eighth judicial circuit, travelling with other lawyers and judges to try cases put before the court.