August 2019
You have access to – World Edition (by Ancestry)!
The largest online newspaper archive featuring 12,100+ newspapers from the 1700s-2000s is yours to explore.

Now available to all users in the Library and from home with a valid library card from The Urbana Free Library.

We're now part of Explore More Illinois!

 Cardholders can use this link to access discounts at museums, park districts, historical societies, zoos, art centers, recreational facilities, and other attractions around the state. New offers are added every month.

Did You Know?
The Archives has its own separate catalog. Local History Online is the comprehensive catalog for all things local history & genealogy. Containing over 750,000 records, this online resource is your gateway to indexed obituaries, title abstracts, books, newspaper articles, photographs, and so much more.

If you find items of interest in Local History Online but can't visit in person, you may request items online or by mail for a fee. Our How to Order Copies page offers instructions on how to submit a request and pricing.

Want tips on how to best search the catalog? We have a flyer for that.
From the Blog
Summer is here, which has brought extra life to downtown Champaign. The warm weather means you can sit outside at bars and restaurants, see live music on the street, and attend a number of festivals. One thing you won’t find though is a pedestrian shopping mall . That version of downtown is a thing of the past, from 1975-1986 to be precise. 

One of the Chanute Collection’s strengths is its impressive photograph collection covering the base’s history. These thousands of photographs were gathered by base historians as well as donated by hundreds of former base personnel. One contributor was Dan Pearl. Pearl was seemingly present at all the major Chanute events during the 1970s and 1980s. After the base closed, a large number of his photographs were put on display in the Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum and the Champaign County Historical Archives preserves these photographs today. 

Pearl was born in 1925 and started his Air Force career in 1943 when he turned 18. In his early years, Pearl was a successful Air Force boxer, competing for multiple titles. At the age of 19, he held the lightweight and welterweight championship titles at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. In July 1944, he competed for the middleweight title at the base, hoping to hold three championship belts simultaneously, but lost in a split decision. 

After basic training, Pearl served all over the world. He was stationed in bases throughout Europe and Asia, as well as California, Texas, Arizona, New Jersey, and Illinois. At Chanute, he was a first sergeant and retired from active duty in 1977 as a senior master sergeant. His military awards included the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.

After retirement, Pearl dedicated his time to his passion for photography. He served as a civilian photographer with Chanute’s Visual Services Division, as well as with a government contractor. His photography earned various awards, ribbons, commendations, and specialty badges. 

Pearl passed away in 1994, shortly after the opening of the Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum. For his hard work, dedication, and impressive collection of photographs he took for the base, the museum honored Pearl with his own exhibit, displaying his various awards and photographs. 

Unfortunately, his photographs are not identified, so we are unsure which belong to him in our collections, but we know he is responsible for many of them and thankful for the great work of Chanute’s “man with a camera."
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Events at the Archives & Beyond

  • Research Night with Champaign County Genealogical Society, Wednesday, August 14, 7:00 pm -8:30 pm | The Jean Evans Archives Room (Second Floor), The Urbana Free Library

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Champaign County Historical Archives | 217-367-4025 | E-mail | Website