Local History and Genealogy Blog

Upcoming Event: Medieval Missionaries: East-Central Illinois and its Cahokia Connection

This Thursday evening, February 25th, the library will host archaeologist Amanda Butler. Her presentation "Medieval Missionaries: East-Central Illinois and its Cahokia Connection" will discuss the Collins Archaeological Complex located along the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River, northwest of Danville, and its relationship to the Mississippian civilization who built the city of Cahokia near East St. Louis, Illinois. As a preview for the event please enjoy this repost from last April on "Digginig Up Illinois' Past." 



Mound 72, Cahokia excavation

Have you ever found a rock that you knew must be a genuine arrowhead?

Have you ever dug a hole in your backyard hoping to discover the ruins of a lost civilization?

Have you ever wondered what life was like for the people that first settled Champaign County?


#ThrowBackThursday: Philo Boys Basketball


Tonight is the latest event in the Town and Gown Speaker Series, CU Hoops: Playing, Coaching and Reporting Basketball. Being held at the Bielfeldt Athletic Administrative Building, this event highlights men's and boys' basketball through the years from various perspectives. So on this Throw Back Thursday, the Archives would like to share a photo of the 1934 Philo Boys' Basketball team. 


Philo Boys Basketball Team

Finding African-American Ancestors in Champaign County: A Resource Guide

Champaign Public Library, Douglass Branch, opening 1976

The history of Champaign County’s African-American community began in the pioneer days of Champaign, Urbana, and the surrounding towns and villages. The easiest way to get started searching for African-American history in Champaign County, as with any subject pertaining to local history in Champaign County, is to search the Local History Online database. You can begin with a quick search from the homepage, which leads to an alphabetical list of results from the Local History Online index. You may find it useful to click “More Searches” and choose a keyword search of our holdings as well. What types of results will you see while searching Local History Online? Below is a list of several types of resources that you can search at the Champaign County Historical Archives. Included are references to several resources specific to Champaign County’s local African-American history and individuals.

Cemetery Haunts

Genealogists and local history buffs aren't the only ones who appreciate a good cemetery.


Deer lounging in Woodlawn Cemetery, Urbana, IL (2016)

These lovely creatures were captured by our own resident cemetery aficionado, Karla.

If you don't mind spending an afternoon in a cemetery you may be interested in our upcoming workshop: Basic Cemetery Restoration. John Heider, a professional gravestone conservator, will offer a hands on class on how to properly care for Illinois cemeteries and their historic grave markers on June 4th. The class will meet at The Urbana Free Library and Roselawn Cemetery.  

Cemeteries not your thing? 

#tbt Original Boy Band, Circa 1913

Professor Wallace M. Ewing was the director of the Ewing's Zouave Boys' Band for over 15 years during the early 20th century. 

#tbt Original Boy Band, Circa 1913

In Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today America honors the contributions and incredible life of Martin Luther King Jr. On this date we especially pause to remember his passion, bravery and hope for the future. Yet, it is important to note that reminders of his life and teachings surround us every day. From memorials and streets to movies and documentaries, Dr. King’s message of love can easily be recalled. Below are a couple of every day reminders of Martin Luther King’s philosophies

Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Urbana 

MLK, Urbana Schools, Martin Luther King Jr.

Formerly Hays School, the elementary school was renamed for Dr. King in the 1970’s.