Local History and Genealogy Blog

Try-It Illinois

It's that time of year again!

For the next two months, October 1-November 30, 2013, Try-It! Illinois offers library staff and users of the more than 5,000 ILLINET member libraries the opportunity to survey and evaluate a wide variety of electronic resources. Thanks to the partnerships between the Illinois State Library and the participating electronic resource vendors, there is no charge for accessing these databases during Try-It! Illinois.

Ellis Island, Castle Garden, Customs, and the Old Barge

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.

"I wish you were here if only for a short time."

Yesterday marked the 150th anniversary of the surrender of Vicksburg, Mississippi to the Union armies commanded by Ulysses S. Grant during the American Civil War. It was a seminal moment: the Confederacy was now split in two and commerce could once again flow from the farms of the Midwest down the Mississippi River virtually unimpeded.

Recently Processed Collections

Two collections have recently been processed and are now fully accessible at the Champaign County Historical Archives of The Urbana Free Library.

The Champaign Urbana Woman’s Club

Alien Visitors ... to Urbana?

A sharped eyed staff member spied this image from our collections: 

"UFO" over the home of Don Manning, Urbana, IL, February, 1969

Apparently, sightings of unexplained phenomena and Unidentified Flying Objects are not uncommon here, as this June 6, 1969 article from the front page of the Urbana Courier relates.