New Exhibit at the Champaign County Historical Archives
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.
Block first discovered the glass plates in 1946, when he and his family moved into a farmhouse south of Sidney, Illinois. Almost 17 years would pass before family and work obligations allowed him the time to pursue his interest in developing and identifying the negatives. On June 18, 1966, he placed photographs printed from 210 of the glass plate negatives on display at the Spring Festival in Sidney. After the initial showing at the Spring Festival, Block continued his quest to learn more about the individuals and locations in the pictures, conducting 35 interviews and speaking to various local community groups about the collection. Eventually, he was able to obtain information for 100 of the original 210 negatives.
The staff of the Champaign County Historical Archives have put together an exhibit that looks at the history and preservation of glass plate negatives, while also telling the story of Block’s remarkable discovery and perseverance in documenting history. The exhibit also delves into what is known about the original photographer. Stop by the exhibit case on the second floor, just outside the Archives entrance, to discover all of this and to see photographs printed from the glass plates. Not local. See over fifty images from the Block Collection on our online album.
Image above: Thompson Farmhouse. Located on the west edge of the NE ¼ of Section 21, in Sidney Township, south of Sidney, Illinois. The farmhouse where Everett Block discovered the glass plate negatives in 1946. Archibald Thompson and his family lived in the house in the early 1900s when this photo was taken. Pictured here are Archibald Thompson (1838-1915) and his daughter Eva. The house was torn down in 1993.