Local History and Genealogy Blog

The Neighborhood Drugstore


Interior of A.P. Cunningham and Sons Drugstore, Champaign circa 1890

Farmers' Market Season in Champaign County

Outdoor market, Champaign, Illinois, 1910

Back of photograph reads: "Outdoor market -- Champaign around 1910." From the "Farmers market--Champaign" photograph envelope.


Summer time is farmers' market season in Central Illinois and it has been for at least the last century. Check out the above photograph of an early 1900s outdoor market in Champaign! 

How To: Preserve Your Digital Photographs

The Champaign County Historical Archives has over one million photographs of local people and locations, dating from the mid-19th century to the present. Here is great example from our collection.

Cool turn-of-the-20th-century photograph that we know nothing about because no one recorded any metadata for it.
Know what would make this photograph better? Metadata!

Boys Only

Boys Swimming Lessons at Crystal Lake Park Pool, 1944

Carl Bontemps (kneeling on stand) addresses some of the 171 boys who registered for swimming instruction on the first day of lessons at the Crystal Lake Park pool. This was the original round pool; it has been remodeled twice since this photo was taken.

Come into the cool Archives this summer and dive into our vast photo collection!

Chanute Collection Move Day

Archives staff and the staff and volunteers at the former Chanute Air Museum spent months evaluating and packing items that would become the Chanute Collection at The Urbana Free Library. Finally, on May 19th the collection officially made its way from Rantoul to Urbana.  

Move DayMove Day

Above, left, the collection packed and ready for travel. Right, our efficient moving crew.

Recently Processed: Jean F. Burkholder Papers

The Champaign County Historical Archives has recently processed the papers of Jean F. Burkholder, a former Urbana School Board president, active community member, and social rights activist.

Storage boxes containing Jean F. Burkholder papers

Storage boxes housing the Jean F. Burkholder papers

Anyone seen an Alligator?

Anyone seen an alligator? Back in 1898, L.A. Wahl's 6 foot pet alligator went on a walkabout. (And you thought urban chickens were a neighborhood nuisance).

'Lost alligator' published in Champaign Daily News, June 10, 1898

Champaign Daily News, June 10, 1898

Illinois and the Civil War

“In Front of Atlanta Ga. July 31st./64”

“It is with pleasure I take my pen in hand to pen you a fiew lines to let you know that I am still in the land of the living an able to eat my rations and fight the rebels terrable hard when we have it to do.” From the “Civil War letters of Pvt. Jacob Haynes Rhoads” by Jacob Haynes Rhoads

Call Number: A B RHOADS WAH


Civil War Veteran Civil War Veteran       Civil War Veteran

Congratulations Grads!

Later this week is Commencement at both Parkland College and the University of Illinois. To celebrate this great archievement, we want to share a picture from our Parkland College Photographs Collection. 


Graduation 1985

Parkland Graduates at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Commencement May 23, 1985

Anita Purves and the Nature Center

Concept art for the 1995 expansion of the Anita Purves Nature Center by Isaksen/Glerum PC Architects, 1993.

Concept art for the 1995 expansion of the Anita Purves Nature Center by Isaksen/Glerum PC Architects, 1993. 

As a longtime resident of Champaign County, I have visited the Anita Purves Nature Center (APNC) at the north end of Crystal Lake Park in Urbana many times. My kids love to explore the collections of native flora and fauna and learn about the center’s animal ambassadors—Quasi the one-eyed owl is our favorite. We explore the trails in Busey Woods and sometimes we just relax in the Wildlife Observation Room and try to identify the bird calls streaming in from the bird feeding station. I have always enjoyed the facility, but did not know the story behind the Anita Purves Nature Center, nor the story of its namesake. While processing the Champaign County Conservation and Design Foundation  special collection last month, I learned of this beloved facility’s origins and became fascinated in the story behind the APNC.