|210 West Green Street, Urbana, Illinois|
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
|Urbana Free Library|
Established in 1956, The Champaign County Historical Archives is a department of The Urbana Free Library that maintains a research-level collection on the history and genealogy of Champaign County. In 1987 it was designated the official repository for non-current Champaign County records. Although it focuses on Champaign County, the Archives holds extensive collections of works dealing with the rest of Illinois and those states that document the significant migration routes of the communities that comprise Champaign County. Whether you have Champaign County ancestors (or no connections to the county at all), are interested in local history, there is a wealth of source useful materials available for research.
The Champaign County Historical Archives has a diverse array of resources to aid in research on local history and genealogy. They range from databases which provide access to genealogical resources worldwide, to unique collections that document local life from the 1850s to the present day.
The Archives reference staff is always willing to help beginning genealogists, answer specific questions, or assist visitors in finding desired materials. They also can answer mail requests for specific information, but time limitations do not permit staff to do research for patrons.
Local History Online is the convenient and comprehensive single-search access to holdings (listed below) of the Champaign County Historical Archives, including digital content. The catalog is frequently updated.
Books and Journals
Over 25,000 books and journals are available and are searchable through the library’s online catalog. These include an extensive collection of books on Champaign County and other Illinois counties, as well as publications about the 17 eastern states which served as nineteenth century migration routes to Champaign County. The archives also collect family genealogies and subscribe to over 100 genealogical and local history journals.
Champaign County Records
Birth, marriage, and death certificates, as well as naturalization records, county court, and circuit court records, among others.
City of Urbana Municipal Records
Microfilmed and indexed records of local government bodies and agencies spanning the years 1855 to 2001.
A comprehensive collection of titles from Champaign County, spanning the years 1852 to the present. Most are available on microfilm.
An extensive collection of directories for Champaign County, including city directories; phone books; and criss-cross directories.
Nearly complete sets of Champaign County high school yearbooks, and selective issues from area middle and elementary schools.
Over one million photographs of local people and locations, dating from the mid-19th century to the present including the News-Gazette Collection (1974-2002), the McCandless Photography studio collection, and postcard collections with images documenting the county and the University of Illinois. Selected images have been digitized and made available online.
Over 500 historical and current local maps, plat books, and atlases are available for research.
Nearly 250 oral histories with topics that cover the length and breadth of the history of Champaign County and its communities. Richly represented within the collection is the rural life and experience of the African-American community. Additionally, many of the cassettes and their corresponding transcripts (when available) have been digitized and made available online.
Local Organization Newsletter Collection
A growing collection of over 400 newsletters distributed by local community organizations, including schools, churches, and a variety of non-profit organizations.
Holdings include records from community institutions, such as Chanute Air Force Base, Burnham Hospital and Nursing School, local schools, civil rights organizations, such as the Urban League, and Sinai Temple of Champaign-Urbana, whose records date back to its formation in 1904.
Our holdings also document the development of local businesses, such as records from Joseph Kuhn and Company’s clothing store, records of the Commercial Bank of Champaign from 1920 to 1973, and Illinois Central Railroad completion reports for many towns in Champaign County.
The Archives also holds records from local chapters of social organizations like the Order of Odd Fellows, the Champaign County Homemakers Association, and the Grand Army of the Republic. Personal collections offer glimpses of local life dating back to the mid-19th century through diaries, correspondence, and other personal papers.