A Short History of The Knowlton & Bennett Building

At the southeast corner of Main and Race streets in Downtown Urbana sits a beautiful Gothic revival-style building. With its delicate architectural features and lively window displays, the building catches the eye of people milling about downtown. This building has served several purposes and undergone many changes throughout its history. Read on for a timeline of the Knowlton & Bennett Building at 135 W. Main Street.

People Saving Places: Alice Novak

May is Preservation Month and the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) has set a theme of “People Saving Places.” NTHP is hoping “to shine the spotlight on everyone doing the work of saving places—in big ways and small.”

From the Shelves of the Archives

When researching a family member, organization, or local history in general, the researcher may find information in unusual places or under controversial topics from a former era. Such is the case with this book...

Uncovering LGBTQ Spaces in Champaign County

Over the past four months, I have dedicated my time as an Archives Apprentice at the Champaign County Historical Archives to researching and creating a digital exhibit on LGBTQ+ spaces in Champaign County. I found that Champaign has a long history as a place where LGBTQ+ people have gathered and fostered community, and it was a leading city in Illinois to establish anti-discrimination laws on the basis of sexual orientation. 

Dr. Miriam Fuller: Innovator, Educator, and Author

As an educator, I look forward to Teacher Appreciation Week each year. The students are a tad bit sweeter, Student Council gifts fresh sets of Paper Mate Flair pens, and the lounge is always stocked with sweet treats and slices of pizza. It’s pretty great. But Teacher Appreciation Week also encourages me to appreciate my fellow educators and past teachers a little more intentionally. It makes me want to check in with the first-year teacher next door to me and remind her that she’s doing an awesome job or send an appreciative Facebook message to Mrs. Picken, my favorite teacher from high school. Teacher Appreciation Week also makes me curious about the amazing educators in C-U history, one in particular being Dr. Miriam Fuller, a librarian of Leal School from 1967 to 1971.

The Newly Digitized St. Joseph Record

One of our local newspapers is now available online through the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection! Years 1963-1980 of The St. Joseph Record have been digitized and are available to view online.

Tracing the History of the Silvercreek Restaurant

Patron questions often lead the staff of the Archives to discover new and interesting things about buildings that we may pass by every day. One recent example is the building currently occupied by the Silvercreek Restaurant at 402 North Race Street in Urbana. How long has this building existed and what was its original use?

Recent Additions to the Microfilm Collection

In order to best meet the needs of our users and our community, it is important that the Archives has materials that are relevant. Recently, we have added three new sets of microfilmed publications to our collection.

What's in Our Collection: Photographic Media Pt. 1

Back in 2019, we posted a blog titled Finding Photographs. That post described the three different categories of organization that the photographs in our collection fall into. Our photograph collection is split into three sections for ease of use: general, streets and addresses, and family photographs. There was also mention of our digital photograph collection on Flickr.

Identifying Hand-Made Paper in the Archives

As the Archives Apprentice at the Champaign County Historical Archives, I have spent 15 hours a week dedicated to learning from our Archives Librarians and Manager about archival skills and processes. I am also a student in UIUC’s Masters in Library and Information Science program. During the past 6 months, I have learned many skills in my program that have inspired me to look at CCHA’s materials in a new light. This semester, I’ve learned about the difference between hand-made paper and machine-made paper, and it sparked curiosity – Does CCHA have any hand-made paper?

We Need Your Help: the Unidentified Photograph Collection

Calling all Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle fans! We need your investigative and sleuthing skills here at the Champaign County Historical Archives. While the vast majority of our photograph collection is organized meticulously, sometimes we receive photograph donations without any identifying information. Currently, we have about 200 photographs in which we are unable to identify the people, places, or events in them.

Historic Hairstyles

Recently the Champaign County Historical Archives were captivated by the hairstyles in a donated photograph album. So unique were the topknots and decorative elements that we were inspired to learn more about nineteenth-century hair. Luckily, we have the perfect resource for this topic: Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900 by Maureen A. Taylor.

Winter Events in the Archives

The next few months in the Archives are bringing many fascinating speakers, both in-person and virtual. Do you want to stay up-to-date about Archives events and happenings? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here!

Recipes from the Archives

Over the summer, the Archives hosted an amazing speaker all about the history of pie. During the program, we featured a number of local cookbooks from the Archives collection on display.

“All Aboard!” Let’s Take a Two-Week Pullman Trip Out West in 1939

Here at the Champaign County Historical Archives, we have recently processed a collection on a woman named Mary Ellen Long (Hill). She was born on June 14, 1916 in Maroa, Illinois and then later lived in Decatur, Illinois. Once she married her husband Melvin Long in 1932, she moved to Champaign, Illinois. One of the most interesting pieces in Mary Ellen’s collection is a grouping of diary entries about a Pullman trip Mary Ellen made to a Delta Theta Tau San Francisco Convention in 1939 when she was in her early twenties. In her entries she describes the beautiful sights, delicious meals, and interesting people she encountered along the way. Let’s hop on a train and take a ride through Mary Ellen’s exciting, two-week trip around the United States, shall we?

What is a Chautauqua?

Described by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt as the “most American thing in America,” Chautauqua was an adult education and social movement popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that brought individuals together for self-improvement. An “educational summer camp,” the Chautauqua offered entertainment in the forms of lectures, sermons, performances, outdoor study, and camping – all at minimal cost.

Newly Processed Collection: the Melvin C. Blobaum Collection

Have you ever heard of the Ostfriesian people? The Ostfriesians, or East Frisian people, are an ethnic minority group from northwest Germany. In the 1800s, many immigrated to America and settled in Illinois and Iowa. Their descendants are still here today.