We have talked about the many different men and women who have passed through Chanute Air Force Base and all of the great things they have accomplished. However, the man whose name the base carries is not as widely known. A renowned engineer, who would spend his later years working with notable figures like the Wright brothers, Octave Chanute's early work helped lay the foundation for human flight and the technical training that would later be achieved at Chanute Air Force Base.
The Urbana Free Library patrons will have FREE access to over 8 billion Find My Past records from March 2 – April 1, 2020
In honor of Black History Month, we want to celebrate and recognize one of the individuals who shaped Chanute Air Force Base and paved the way for future generations of African American service people in the Air Force.
The Champaign County Historical Archives holds over 500 historical and current local maps, plat books, and atlases.
In 1967, the British pop sensation known as The Beatles were on top of the world. They were one of the most popular and successful bands in the history of music and released critically and publicly acclaimed albums that reflected their changing style and attitudes. One of the biggest influences on the group was their trip to India in 1968 to meet with the leader of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The group met Maharishi Yogi in 1967 during a TM seminar in Wales. This meeting was cut short due to the untimely death of The Beatles manager Brian Epstein. Throughout the remainder of 1967, group members George Harrison and John Lennon promoted TM and the teachings of Maharishi Yogi. Hoping to find spiritual guidance, The Beatles traveled to Rishikesh, India in early 1968, with Harrison and Lennon arriving first with their families, followed by other members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. The visit ended in controversy, with The Beatles denouncing Maharishi Yogi and his teachings. Some ultimately blamed this visit on the eventual breakup of the band, but it was also one of the most productive songwriting periods in their career, with the band writing nearly every track for the infamous White Album.
The Illinois Blue Book, which was first published by the Secretary of State’s office in 1900, although it has predecessors that go back to 1861, is a vital reference source for state government. The modern Illinois Blue Book contains reports and information on state government, state agencies, universities, and local municipalities, while the Blue Books in the past often included original articles about Illinois government, politics, and history.
Created by the Illinois General Assembly as a program of the Governor’s Council on Health and Physical Fitness and enthusiastically announced in June 1983 by Governor Jim Thompson, the Prairie State Games began with
In this week’s blog post, we would like to remember and acknowledge the legacy of Major General Edwin W. Robertson who died December 18, 2019.
Central Illinois history is often intertwined with that of railroad history. The city of Champaign, along with several other Champaign County towns and villages, were formed when the Illinois Central Railroad line was constructed in the 1850s. But, what about the secret railroad network without trains or tracks that existed in the 19th century? Before the abolition of slavery in America, the Underground Railroad was a network of safe routes and houses in the United States and Canada used by African-American freedom seekers and allies to help enslaved individuals escape to free states, and sometimes to flee the country. Abolitionists and other individuals with anti-slavery sentiments provided Underground Railroad “passengers” with food, shelter, and guidance to other “stations.”
On Saturday, September 19, 1970, a series of events led to what was hailed as a militant demonstration at the front gate of Chanute Air Force Base, leading to police engagement and general unrest. In the preceding weeks, an African American airman from Chanute was arrested on false charges in Rantoul. This arrest sparked an uprising form the 47th Student Squadron, a predominantly black squadron. The uprising that week coincided with a boycott of Dining Hall P-23. In July of 1970, 600 airmen signed a petition to improve the quality of the food at the dining hall. After the petition was ignored, a rumor circulated that hepatitis was being spread through the food served in P-23. This culminated in a boycott of the dining hall. The boycott saw three civilians and two airmen join forces to successfully dissuade the majority of the evening diners from subjecting themselves to the food. Military Police were called, and the three civilians were escorted from the base and given a strong verbal warning not to return, while the two airmen were arrested and held for two days.
The Illinois Central Railroad Company (ICRR), known as the Main Line of the Mid-West, was one of the oldest Class I railroads in the United States.
As an archives intern, I have worked with the Chanute Collection over the last nine months processing records from the former Air Force Base and aerospace museum. In my work, I regularly handle records and documents I find of great historical interest and importance. However, due to the large amount of work that needs to be done with the collection my time is limited. These artifacts are in my hands for only a moment, yet many are worthy of more investigation and attention.
The State of Illinois approved the Farm Names Act providing for the registration of farm names on June 25, 1915. It went into effect on July 1, 1915. A farmer who wanted to name his farm could register the name and a description of the land with the County Recorder for a set fee. This name could only apply to one farm in the same county. If the land was sold or divided, the name of the farm did not transfer with the deed unless stated in the transfer. A certificate with the farm name was printed for the owner. An owner could cancel the name of the farm by paying a fee and filing a notice of cancellation with the recorder.
Most of us have pondered what things were like before we were born. Luckily for these people, we have city ordinances! This post looks at what the city laws were like for Urbana in 1898. I have chosen to feature ordinances that may be worded strangely, are oddly specific, or just seem like plain common sense.
Have you ever searched in Local History Online and discovered a book with a “Q” as part of the call number? The “Q” in the call number alludes to the book-sizing term, “Quarto.” Our oversized books are housed separately from the rest of our print collection, along the southwest corner of the reading room.
On Halloween in 1941, the Chanute Air Force Base (CAFB) saw a spooky night hosted by the Non-Commissioned Officer’s (NCO) club. “Ghosts, goblins, and broom riding witches cavorted beneath a bright harvest moon as the Chanute NCO club staged its annual Halloween Hop Saturday evening.” The event featured an award for the best costumes. The award was presented to Mrs. Hill, the wife of master sergeant Joe Hill, for her costume as Annie Oakley. Mrs. Hill’s western dress, prop gun and holster, and large ten gallon hat made for a quite compelling costume. Mrs. Hill shared the spotlight with master sergeant R. L. Jackson who humorously presented himself as “a professor of Science.” Bespectacled by horn-rimmed glasses, a professorial overcoat, and a long wig, Jackson inspired laughter amongst his fellow party goers.
If you’ve spent much time walking the streets of downtown Urbana, you might have noticed that there are a few alleys with their names displayed. Crane Alley is well known not only because of the restaurant of the same name, but also due to ornate wrought iron arches at each end. There is an arch for Cherry Alley featured prominently in the landscaped walkway outside the Urbana Free Library. Lastly, there is also an iron arch with the name Fish Alley located on Race Street, between Main and Elm. You may have asked yourself: What is the story behind these alleys? Where do they get their names? These are the kinds of questions you can ask us in the Archives!
On this day, September 30th, twenty-six years ago Chanute Air Force Base closed its doors along with several other Air Force bases across the country. Even though Chanute witnessed many changes in the United States, from the Great Depression to the technology boom in the 1980s, 1988 was the beginning of the end of an era for Chanute. It was a transition period in the United States as the Cold War came to an end and Americans were encouraged to look forward to a time where military force was no longer necessary. As plans unfolded, many people feared the effect Chanute’s closing would have on the Rantoul community. For those who are just learning about Chanute today, it is difficult to imagine how much an impact the Base had on the day-to-day life in Rantoul. However, when you compare the photos here, one from the 1917-1930s and the other from the 1990s, it is clear to see that when Chanute Air Force Base evolved so did the surrounding area. When the Base grew and expanded its influence so did local businesses, schools, and community groups.