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.

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.