The Stephen Storch Photography Collection

Here at the Champaign County Historical Archives (CCHA), we have begun working on the Storch Photography Collection, donated by the family of Stephen Storch, a photographer who lived and worked in Champaign-Urbana. Thanks to the Illinois State Historical Records Advisory Board (ISHRAB), we have recently begun a grant-funded project to better preserve these materials by rehousing the photos and negatives into archival envelopes and boxes.

Finding the Fultons Part 2

This is the 2nd installment of the investigation into Eliza A. Fulton’s burial place. To catch up on the previous research, read the first blog here. We left off after having found both Eliza and Henry’s death records, which list their burial place as Linn (Lynn) Grove Cemetery. But the Lynn Grove burial records don’t include either of them!

The Lewis Family

The Urbana Free Library has various spaces that are named after generous donors. One such space is the Lewis Auditorium on the lowest level of the library. Those who are familiar with the library, or who have attended a library event, may know that the auditorium exists. However, not everyone knows about the family that the auditorium is named after.

Five Generations of Women in One Photograph

I recently re-discovered this five-generation photograph that I had purchased a few years ago at an estate tag sale in Champaign. The picture does not include anyone in my family but I found the different clothing and hairstyles intriguing. The fact that all of the names of the women in the picture were written on the back was a bonus.

Finding the Fultons Part 1

Hello, fellow fans of genealogy and local history! I recently entered the world of Champaign County Historical Archives as an Archives Assistant this past March. Although I’ve had previous experience with other archives, the Champaign County Historical Archives is a new adventure. Every archive is unique to its own collection, which is part of what makes archival and genealogical research so exciting.

The Secret History of Squirrels

There is no question whether or not our squirrel population is thriving in the UIUC campus area. It’s unlikely anyone hasn’t had a run-in with these bouncy rodents at some point or another. Whether they’ve dug up your garden beds, rummaged through your garbage cans, or chowed down on your Halloween pumpkins – the squirrels here are pesky and they are everywhere.

Mapping Champaign County: The Legacy of Alexander Bowman

Alexander Bowman (1826-1907) was a carpenter, secretary for a teacher’s association, architect, and surveyor who moved his family from New York to Illinois to further his educational and business prospects despite his persistent health and financial issues. Although some of the materials and edifices he created remain extant to this day, they do not add up to tell a complete life story.

Chanute's “Ole-Farts” Club and the Retiree Activities Club

At the Chanute Air Force Base, things weren’t just all classes and training. Students, faculty, staff, and even retirees found a way to have fun on the base, often with a sense of humor. This is clearest in the “Ole-Farts” Club, which ran from 1985 into the late 1990s.

Remote Requests in the Archives

Are you looking for certain historical records that are housed in the Champaign County Historical Archives? Are you too busy or far away to visit us in person? Are you unable to visit for some other reason? Champaign County Historical Archives can provide off-site patrons with photocopies or scanned images of records. There is a small charge for these services but for patrons doing research and genealogy this can be a useful opportunity to receive the material you are looking for in a quick, convenient and affordable manner.

Mahomet Pioneer: Stephen C. Abbott

Stephen C. Abbott house on the old State Road in Mahomet. Caption on the photograph reads "The first room built before the Civil War after Mr.

Juneteenth Celebrations

Juneteenth, commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans, was made a federal holiday in 2021 and will become an Illinois state holiday this year (2022). Originating in Galveston, Texas, in 1865, the celebration has a long history within regions and populations of the United States. Over the years, it has gone by several names, Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Black Independence Day, and even various dates, September 22, January 1, and others, before settling on June 19.

Dining at the Chanute Air Force Base

Early in my internship, I created a Flickr album that includes photos of menus and dining halls on the base. Since looking at the photographs of the dining halls, I became interested in the buildings themselves. Lucking, the buildings collection contains a lot of information about housing, construction, and fortunately for us, a little bit about the dining halls!

The General is a Lady! Commanding Officer Norma E. Brown

Chanute Air Force Base hosted many notable people as faculty, staff, and students, including an array of commanding officers from the very inception of the base until its closing (1917-1993). Looking through the Commanding Officers collection, we can see that men mostly held the position of commanding officer, with a few exceptions. One such exception is Norma E. Brown, the first woman to command a United States Air Force Wing and Technical Training Center.

Documenting Land Use Changes Through Aerial Photographs

The Archives’ photograph collection contains many types of photographs, one being aerial. These aerial photographs can help track changes in neighborhoods and business districts. The changes might be from agricultural use to new residential or business use. They could also include the demolition of existing residential homes or buildings for a new mall, office building, or apartment complex. Aerial views from different angles or long-range can show additional details of other neighborhoods beyond the area of interest.

Tread Carefully

We may have made it safely out of winter, but here in the Midwest, unpredictable winters are a fact of life. There is one thing you can be sure of. When the roads are bad, it is important to drive safe, and driving safe is easier when your tires are in good shape. Speaking of tires, here is a collection of tire ads from the 1920’s.

It's Syllabus Day! Instructors and Students at the NCO Leadership School

The Chanute Air Force Base was home to non-commissioned officers. These officers rose through the ranks of their respective units and were not commissioned outside of that unit. As such, these officers were especially hard-working and dedicated. However, even the best leaders can improve their skills. The NCO Leadership School was a place where they could learn more about leadership and how to adapt their skills for their new roles.

Down the Archives Rabbit Hole

Merriam Webster defines rabbit hole as “one in which the pursuit of something (such as an answer or solution) leads to other questions, problems, or pursuits.” If you ask me, one of the best things about working in the Champaign County Historical Archives is the archives rabbit hole. One thing can, and usually does, lead to another. I had that very experience just this week and thought I’d document it here so you can see how it goes.