Local History and Genealogy Blog

Jim Goes to Chicago

It can be hard returning to the regular routine after a long holiday break, but I wouldn't recommend going AWOL just ask Jim. 

Jim, the dog, under "arrest" in Chicago for leaving his post at Chanute Field.

Ellis Island, A New Beginning...

Ellis Island opened on January 1, 1892. In honor of that occasion here is a blog we posted in 2013 about the history of the island and tips for researching an ancestor's immigration story. Happy New Year, Everyone!


View of the front facade of the Immigration Station; a boat is docked in front.We all learned as school children how our immigrant ancestors came to America through Ellis Island. The real story about where and when immigrants entered the United States is much more complicated than the story we grew up with. Ellis Island was a New York gateway for the arrival of U.S. immigrants from roughly 1892 to 1924. Although it was by far the largest port of entry and millions arrived during that time, it was one of many ways to enter the United States.

Library Questions of Years Gone By

One of my ongoing projects is to process the records of The Urbana Free Library. Since we were founded in 1874 there are a lot of papers to sort through. Today I came across a folder titled ‘Reference Tallys’ [sic]. Inside is a sheaf of handwritten pages divided into 4 columns: reference question, source, answered (yes or no), and the answering librarian’s initials. Although, only the month and day are listed I am estimating from the questions and location within the collection that these queries date from the 1970s.

Take a look. [Click on image for a larger picture.] Do you think you could find the answers to the following?

List of questions addressed to librarians at The Urbana Free Library in the 1970s

Journals Available at the Archives

Illinois Heritage magazine cover, September-October 2015Mayflower Quarterly journal cover, September 2015


The Champaign County Historical Archives subscribes to over 100 genealogical and local history journals, with several new issues added each week. Most journals are located in the Archives open stacks and are available for browsing.

Food Trucks Are So 1922

Food trucks are a 2000s thing, right? Red’s Old Standby would disagree.

Red's Old Standby Lunch Wagon, 1922

Comfort Food Trumps Winter Blahs


Thanksgiving at the Trolls by Josh Wedin

One way to fight back the gloom of dark, brooding, winter weather is through celebration, and in my world view celebration is synonymous with food. Luckily, the Thanksgiving-Christmas-Chanukah-Kwanzaa-Solstice-New Year’s Eve season gives us lots of opportunities to celebrate.

100 Years Ago Today

Remember: Nothing will add more to your appearance than a wealth of modish hair.

This advertisement for Natural Brand Human Hair appeared in the Champaign Daily Gazette on Tuesday, November 23, 1915. (Note that the switches were made from "your combings". Lovely.)