Digitizing the Cotillion Ball Images

Since October, Archives staff have been working on a grant-funded project to rehouse the Stephen Storch Photography Collection, and to digitize a selection of the over 45,000 photograph negatives it contains. The negatives of the Cotillion Debutante Ball were chosen to be digitized and displayed online. The Cotillion celebrates local African American young women who excel academically and are involved in their communities.

The Runaway Husband

In archival work, we talk a lot about the circuitous route of historical research, the serendipity of discovery, and the rabbit holes our research can lead us down. I recently experienced this when trying to identify an old photograph.

Exploring the Evolution of County Lines in Illinois

It is once again time to take a look at map resources in the Archives. You can catch up by taking a look at my previous post, covering plat maps. This time, I’m looking at the state as a whole, specifically, the counties.

The Origins of Earth Day in Champaign County

In 1969, 3 million gallons of crude oil flooded into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Santa Barbara, California—the result of inadequate safety precautions by Union Oil. The subsequent news coverage, including photographs of the thousands of dead sea mammals, birds, and fish owing to the spill, was the final blow that mobilized millions of Americans to demand better protections for the environment.[i]

April Showers Bring May Flowers… and Preservation Risks

Spring has sprung. We made it through winter, but beware! Spring rain comes with a whole set of preservation dangers. Fortunately, there are a few easy changes you can make to keep your collections at home safe from water damage. The most important have to do with selecting a storage location in your home. Choosing the right spot for your personal collections or memorabilia can prevent a disaster.

Using City Directories to Discover a Local Store's History

Recently, I was watching the news and found out that Dick’s Sporting Goods and Field and Stream will be temporarily closing their Champaign location, at 2000 N. Neil St. Ste. 2000A. The company wants to start renovations to change the stores into one of an exclusive number of new concept stores called the House of Sport.

Introducing (Again!) “Window to the Past: The Everett C. Block Collection”

In 2016, the Champaign County Historical Archives debuted a new exhibit: “Window to the Past: The Everett C. Block Collection,” which showcased photos and information from the Block Collection of glass negative photographs. Now, you can relive this exhibit at any time on the CCHA’s Omeka website.

The Archives' Collection of Newsletters

The Archives has a collection of newsletters from various local groups. These include area chapters of national organizations, like the League of Women Voters, as well as newsletters from major employers and companies like Carle, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, school districts and more! Old newsletters contain a trove of knowledge about the times they were published in, and the organizations themselves.

Extra! Extra! A New Exhibit at the Archives!

There has been a new exhibit installed in the case outside of the Archives featuring the News-Gazette Collection. Donated in 2020, the collection includes newspaper clippings, Stevick family archival materials, business correspondence, among many other interesting materials! The exhibit covers the history of the paper, the family who owned the paper, and the items in the collection.

Food Ads of the 1950s

It’s time for another post featuring old ads that could be found in newspapers. This round of ads is from the September 7, 1950 issue of the News-Gazette. Specifically, this post focuses on food products.

Urbana's First First Methodist Church: A Brief History

Downtown Urbana is home to many eye-catching buildings, rich with history. Notably, the Urbana Lincoln Hotel, the Champaign County Court House, as well as our own –The Urbana Free Library. A noted addition to this list is the First United Methodist Church, located at 304 S. Race street. Although it is the oldest continuously operating church in Champaign county, the structure that houses the congregation is not the first, First Methodist Church of Urbana, IL.

Remembering David Monk

We’re remembering all of the incredible work David Monk has done for our community and to preserve our local natural prairie. Known to listeners of his radio show as the Prairie Monk, David has tirelessly worked to educate and spread awareness on the important of our natural landscape as well as historic preservation for decades. A long-time friend to the Archives, he will be very missed.

Finding the Fultons Part 3

Welcome back to part 3 of the investigation into Eliza A. Fulton’s burial place. To catch up, read blogs #1 and #2. We left off having confirmed Eliza, her husband Henry, and their son Thomas were moved from Lynn Grove Cemetery to Woodlawn Cemetery. Next up, I wanted to confirm that all of the children’s names listed are correct.

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.