April 2019
Library Closed April 21 for Spring Holiday
Saturday, April 6th | 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Join us in celebrating the history of Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul. We will be displaying photographs, videos, and records from the base, as well as providing a space for former Chanuters to share stories about their experiences. With the help of the Champaign County Radio Control Club , Cherry Alley will transform into a mini airplane runway featuring scale models of planes flown at the base. The University of Illinois Sousa Archives and Center for American Music will bring sights and sounds from the bases’ famous Air Force Band of the Midwest. For the little Chanuters, we are providing coloring pages inspired by base records, and our first ever paper airplane creation station. Please join us for an exciting day filled with fun and food as we honor the millions of men and women who trained and worked at Chanute!
New Exhibit Coming April 1st
One-Room Country Schools of Champaign County
By the early 1940s, there were 145 rural school buildings in Champaign County and Illinois had more single school districts than any other state. 

Come learn about Champaign's country schools through photographs from our collection and special artifacts on loan from The Museum of the Grand Prairie.

Exhibit is located on the 2nd floor of the Library outside the Archives entrance.
Saturday, April 27th | 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
This workshop presented by  Jennifer Hain Tepper  will introduce attendees to the importance of preserving fragile family books, papers, and photographs and provide introductory information on how to do so. Topics that will be covered include general storage tips, problems to look for, examples of usual deterioration, and different types of possible treatments – both novice and professional. Participants are encouraged to bring an item from their family collection that they are interested in preserving for discussion with the group.

Jennifer Hain Teper  serves as the Velde Preservation Librarian at the University of Illinois Libraries overseeing conservation, collections care, digital preservation, and digitization services throughout the library system. 
The town of Sidney used to have its own high school? What about Sadorus? Or Ogden? Take a trip down memory lane and peruse our yearbook collection. The Archives is home to hundreds of UIUC and Champaign County high school, middle school, and elementary school yearbooks, some of which date back to the early 1900s.
In the Archives, you can view Champaign County newspapers spanning the years 1852 to the present . You can also scan and print from the microfilm readers. We'll show you how!
From the Blog
In 1898, Peter Vriner, a young Greek ice cream and candy manufacturer opened Vriner’s Confectionery on 55 E. Main St., Champaign, to the delight of the neighboring Varsity Theatre and train depot patrons. Over the next couple of decades, business boomed and Vriner’s became the most popular of the five confectioneries in Champaign-Urbana.  

Mary Ruth Clemons (1910-1992) was born in Marion, Illinois on February 18, 1910 to John Robert and Edith Caroline Grant Crenshaw. In the 1920s, Clemons attended Marion Township High School. Following high school, she enrolled in Browns’ Business College in Marion, Illinois. Browns’ was a chain of schools founded by George W. Brown in the 1870s that focused on specialized office jobs, such as bookkeeping, stenography, cashier work, and clerkship. During their 10-month school year, Clemons rigorously trained in bookkeeping, commercial arithmetic, writing, commercial law, business correspondence, spelling, shorthand, typewriting, indexing and filing in preparation for a secretarial career.

Following graduation, Clemons took a position as the secretary to the Commanding Officer of Chanute Field, Major Leo G. Heffernan, on April 22, 1929. Two years later, she married WWI Air Force veteran, Ray C. Clemons. On September 30, 1931, she left her post at Chanute and travelled the world with Ray, visiting China and living in the Philippines and Hawaii before returning to Chanute in 1940. Upon their return, Clemons retook her position as secretary to the base commander under Brigadier General Davenport E. Johnson, while her husband returned to the theater of war, fighting in World War II. Mary did not leave her post again until retirement in 1970. From 1929-1970 Mary performed her duties under 17 different commanding officers at Chanute, something many claimed to be an Air Force record.

On January 22, 1970, Clemons was presented the Medal for Meritorious Civilian Service after 33 years of dedication and hard work at Chanute Air Force Base. The award was given to her by base commander General J.B. Knapp on behalf of Air Training Command Commander Lt. General Sam Maddux Jr. According to Knapp, “Mrs. Clemons consistently maintained a standard of excellence in the performance of her duties that has earned the high praise of numerous commanders. Her dedication to duty, poise, and cheerful attitude have been an inspiration and example to all. Her unparalleled knowledge of the center has been an invaluable asset to the commanders she has served. Mrs. Clemons’ outstanding devotion and accomplishment reflect the highest credit upon herself and the civilian employees of the United States Air Force.”
Think You Know Champaign-Urbana?
Try our trivia quiz
Q. What year were the schools in Champaign County consolidated into eight super districts?
Events at the Archives & Beyond
  • Spring Book Sale, Thursday, March 28 - Monday, April 1| The Urbana Free Library

  • One-Room Country Schools of Champaign County, exhibit opening April 1 | outside the Jean Evans Archives Room (Second Floor), The Urbana Free Library

  • Early Illinois History, Champaign County Genealogical Society, Tuesday, April 9, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm | The Jean Evans Archives Room (Second Floor), The Urbana Free Library

  • Research Night with Champaign County Genealogical Society, Wednesday, April 10, 7:00 pm -8:30 pm | The Jean Evans Archives Room (Second Floor), The Urbana Free Library

  • Illinois Trivia, Thursday, April 11, 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm | The Lewis Auditorium (Ground Floor), The Urbana Free Library

We Want To Hear From You!
Put our Archivists to the test. Ask us your questions about local history and genealogy.
Champaign County Historical Archives | 217-367-4025 | E-mail | Website