Local History and Genealogy Blog

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.

Harvest season has arrived

Anderson Elevator, October 1976                                 

It is no secret that here in Champaign County, harvest season has begun. Just drive past The Andersons on North Staley Road at the end of your workday to marvel at the number of grain filled trucks waiting to unload their bounty. 

Our Ancestors Were Just Like Us

Don’t let the sepia tones fool you. Our ancestors were not all that different from ourselves.

They dressed their children in silly outfits and placed them on cute animals.

Small child on a miniature horse.

They took pictures of their food.

The Champaign County Historical Archives Hours are Changing


Earlier this year, the Champaign County Historical Archives measured public use during all service hours to assess whether the current schedule met the needs of the public. The three-month survey showed a distinct demand for afternoon hours.

At the recommendation of the Archives staff, the Board of Trustees of the Library voted on August 9, 2016 to change the Archives hours of service.