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.

The Champaign County Historical Archives Menu Collection: Menus Matter!

One of the big mysteries of life revolves around trying to remember what restaurants used to be where, and what was on the menu. It seems as soon as a restaurant closes it is very easy for us to forget it ever existed. There are probably a few exceptions to this rule but mostly it is an “out of sight out of mind” kind of situation. Here in The Champaign County Historical Archives we have a secret weapon- a menu collection. Not only does this give us a location for previous local eateries, we also can revisit the actual menu and rhapsodize over our favorite nachos or cocktails.  

The Urbana Woman’s Club: Providing Newspaper-Worthy Charity Work & Social Events for 85 Years

A long table is covered in a colorful myriad of tulips, lilacs, roses, and flowering shrubs, and there is a distinct smell of spring in the air. At each table setting there daintily sits a lacy fan as a formal place card. The hum of a room full of women engaging in small talk and thoughtful conversation begins to die down as the spritely voices of a chorus takes its place. It is obvious that attention has been paid to every beautiful detail and that those details will be worth mentioning in next week’s News-Gazette and Courier prints. It is the annual Urbana Woman’s Club Spring Luncheon of 1955, and members are meeting to celebrate their charitable contributions to the community and raise money for many future ones.

Recently Processed Collections: The Calling Cards Collection & The Stanton Township Society of Friends Records

It’s hot out here in Champaign County, and everyone’s social batteries are fully recharged after bundling up inside over the cooler seasons. Whether they are grabbing brunch with friends, chatting up fellow dog owners at the dog park, or exploring new summer clubs and activities, citizens are out and about socializing. Today, we may share a phone number or a friend request to present ourselves and keep in touch with others, but in the 19th century, individuals preferred to use calling cards.

Unexpected Surprises in the Stephen Storch Photography Collection

Back in October 2022, the Archives received a grant to rehouse the photograph collection of Stephen Storch. A local photographer, Storch covered general portraits, graduations, weddings, B’nai Mitzvahs, sports teams, company gatherings, and more...

Hot Air Balloons in Downtown Champaign-Urbana

Since 1973, hot air balloons have been a frequent summertime sighting over Champaign County. Why 1973? That’s when Tom Gabel moved to Urbana. Earlier that year, he was crowned the 1973 U.S. Hot Air Balloon Pilot Champion in Indianola, Iowa. Gabel held a sales franchise for Piccard Balloons (based in California) for a six-state area in the Midwest. By 1975, Gabel reckoned he had sold 40 balloons to people around the Midwest.

Archives at Juneteenth

Archives staff members Sara and Shalini attended The Urbana Free Library and Urbana Park District’s Juneteenth celebration last month. They brought materials from the Archives related to local Black history for community members to explore.

The Digital Preservation Practicum Experience

During my final semester as a graduate student in Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois, I pursued a practicum at the Champaign County Historical Archives (CCHA).

A Local History of Juneteenth

Today, on June 19th, we celebrate Juneteenth. Juneteenth has been celebrated for many years, but only just became a federally recognized holiday in 2021. Earlier residents of Champaign County celebrated Emancipation Day.