Local History and Genealogy Blog

Happy Thanksgiving from Local History and Genealogy!

In honor of Thanksgiving, here are some historical facts about to share at your dinner table. We hope you have a wonderful holiday, and we'll see you back at the Archives on Friday. 

  • This mayoral proclamation appeared in the Champaign Gazette and Union on November 18, 1868:

Champaign Gazette and Union, 18 November 1868, p. 1

Time for a Feast

Curious about how Champaign County celebrated food in years past? As we dive into a season of friends, family, and food, take a look at some culinary exhibits from the Local History and Genealogy department.


Peterson's Cafe, ca 1913; Champaign County Historical Society Photographs, Photograph 246a;

Champaign County Historical Archives, Urbana, IL.

Ice Skating on Crystal Lake, Urbana

Ice skating on Crystal Lake, Urbana, Illinois, February 1955


Waiting for Crystal Lake in Urbana to freeze over used to be a much anticipated winter activity in the Urbana-Champaign area, dating back to the late nineteenth century. The article below appeared in the December 12, 1898 edition of the Champaign Daily News:


Happy Halloween!

Do you recognize this smile?

19th Century Seance in Urbana

In the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, spiritualism, the belief that the dead could communicate with the living, especially through a medium, gained popularity and renown. It was a movement that garnered ardent enthusiasm from its followers, including author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and psychologist William James, among others; and was lambasted by its detractors, such as novelist Mark Twain and magician Harry Houdini.

Internet Archive Book Image of the Davenport Bros. Trumpet Seance

New Exhibit: "Window to the Past: The Everett C. Block Collection"

The Everett C. Block Collection, donated to the Champaign County Historical Archives in 2014, contains 254 glass plate negatives that document the families, houses, and farms of southeast Champaign County circa 1900-1905. Everett Block was not the original photographer of these glass plate negatives; however, he was the person who had the foresight to save, research, and share these pieces of history with others.

Archives Visitors

Fourth graders from Leal School tour the Archives


The Champaign County Historical Archives loves its young visitors! A few weeks ago, Miss Tiffany brought Leal School fourth graders to the Archives to show them what kind of treasures we have.

Oral History with Anh Ha Ho

Last Saturday, September 24, 2016, the Champaign-Urbana Immigration Forum held its 3rd Annual Immigrant Welcome Awards at The Urbana Free Library. There former Library board member Anh Ha Ho was honored with the 2016 Leadership Award.