Local History and Genealogy Blog

Try Out 'Try-It! Illinois!'

Try-It! Illinois 2018 posterTry-It! Illinois is the annual statewide database trial sponsored by Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White and the Illinois State Library. It offers the staff and library users of more than 5,000 ILLINET member libraries the opportunity to survey and evaluate a wide variety of electronic resources. Thanks to the partnerships between the Illinois State Library and the participating electronic resource vendors, there is no charge for accessing these databases during Try-It! Illinois.  Read more about Try Out 'Try-It! Illinois!'

Urbana Money

Urbana Money, bill

There are few occasions in which printing your own money would be an appropriate solution to a financial crisis. However, Urbana did just that during the Great Depression. Read more about Urbana Money

Greetings from Chanute!: The Story of Chanute Field's 29th Commanding Officer, 1940-1944, 1946

Young Raymond E. O'NeillThroughout its history, Chanute Air Force Base (CAFB) had fifty-four commanding officers (CO) from 1917-1993.  Most COs had a brief stint at CAFB, many lasting less than a single year. One of the base’s first COs to hold the position for an extended period was Brigadier General Raymond E. O’Neill. Read more about Greetings from Chanute!: The Story of Chanute Field's 29th Commanding Officer, 1940-1944, 1946

The enduring mystery of Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart standing with University of Illinois President Arthur C. Willard

Earhart with Arthur C. Willard, Urbana, IL, 1935 

The perennial mystery of Amelia Earhart has been in the news once again with the International Group for Historical Aircraft Recovery’s paper that ‘analyzes radio distress calls’ heard in the days after Earhart’s 1937 disappearance in her attempt to be the first woman to circumnavigate the world.

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Chanute AFB Closed 25 Years Ago

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the closure of Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois. At the time the base closed its doors on September 30th, 1993, it was the third oldest active base and oldest Technical Training Center. Administration and other departments, clubs, groups, and individual personnel had managed to gather an abundance of historical records, photographs, and ephemera. Read more about Chanute AFB Closed 25 Years Ago

Browse Photographs Online!

Did you know you can browse thousands of historical photographs of Champaign County online? Just visit the Champaign County Historical Archives Flickr page! From daily life at Chanute, to local church architecture, our Flickr has something for everyone!

Some of our newest albums include:
The Urbana Free Library, 1949Mary E. Busey’s Gift: A Centennial Celebration of Samuel T. Busey Memorial Library – Excerpts from the exhibit honoring Mary E. Busey’s donation of $35,000 for a new library building in honor of her late husband Samuel T. Busey. Read more about Browse Photographs Online!

Newly processed: Heitzman Architectural Survey of Champaign-Urbana

917 West University Avenue, Champaign, 1974

Above: 917 West University Ave., Champaign

The Frank Heitzman Architectural Survey of Champaign-Urbana collection is now available for public browsing. The collection contains a copy of the manuscript, The Architectural Survey of Champaign-Urbana, along with approximately 200 informational cards measuring 4” by 6” from the survey described therein. Most cards have a photographic negative measuring 1” by 1.25” attached.

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Lincoln the Lawyer, a statue by Lorado Taft

Lincoln the Lawyer statue by Laredo Taft, 1943On July 3, 1927, Franklin H. Boggs, George M. Bennett, Joseph C. Blair, and Lorado Z. Taft met on the steps of the recently completed Urbana-Lincoln Hotel to give a dedication ceremony honoring the newest addition to the hotel, a bronze statue of the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, titled “Lincoln the Lawyer”. The statue was designed and sculpted by Taft, a nationally known sculptor and University of Illinois graduate. It was beautifully executed with a standing Lincoln resting his arms across a slab of stone, looking as though he is about to give a speech or offer an argument in court.  Read more about Lincoln the Lawyer, a statue by Lorado Taft