May 6, 2018

Prehn's On Oregon, Champaign County History Museum 

If you were a student at the University of Illinois between 1927 and 1966, then there is a good chance that Prehn’s was your local hangout.  Prehn’s was named for its owner, Paul Prehn (1892-1973) who, from 1920-1928, served as one of the University of Illinois’ most successful wrestling coaches.  In fact, he won 4 Big Ten Tea...

As I began my faculty appointment at the University of Illinois Archives, I was given the privilege to finish a digital story map that graduate student Joseph Porto began. As part of the University of Illinois sesquicentennial celebration, students and staff, under the direction of Ellen Swain (director of the Student Life and Culture Archives), created an interactive story ma...

February 23, 2018

Clark Robinson Griggs and Family. Source: Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Choosing the location for the University of Illinois was “one of the strangest contests in the state’s history,” says Allan Nevins in his 1917 book Illinois.

According to Nevins, the battle over the university’s location eventually boiled down to four sites—Jacksonville, Bloomington, Lincol...

99th Pursuit Squadron at Chanute Air Field

Source: Museum of the Grand Prairie, Mahomet, Illinois 

During World War II, the United States armed forces were segregated. But this didn’t stop African Americans from joining up in defense of their country.

An important piece of this story played out right here in Champaign County, with the establishment of the all-black 99th Pursuit S...

January 30, 2018

The University of Illinois began with one lone building, which looked out on a wide, open landscape on the southeast corner of University and Wright Streets—approximately where the magnificent Beckman Institute proudly stands today.

But this first building was anything but magnificent—or proud.

It was called the University Building or the Dormitory Building, but it was best know...

December 31, 2017

Although Champaign County was named after a county in Ohio, its name couldn’t be more fitting. Champaign means “level, open country.” Situated in the second flattest state in the country, Champaign County doesn’t break form, bearing a flat-to-gently-rolling landscape and a general lack of forest. On a clear day, it seems as if you can see for miles. But how did it get this way...

September 28, 2017

 The Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Chester, Pennsylvania launched the Island Mail in 1941. Built to carry 499 passengers, it transported 1,800 men across the western Pacific in August 1944.

The Marines disembarked at Saipan to assist Americans already fighting there.

The sailors proceeded to Peleliu, a tiny coral island, six miles square, located approximately 500 hund...

May 18, 2017

This year marks the 150th birthday of the First United Methodist Church Bell.  The First United Methodist Church, located downtown since 1860, on the corner of Church and State Streets, has had three buildings:  the Frame Church (built in 1860), the Brick Church (built in 1887), and the current Stone Church (built in 1907).  Since 1867, the Church Bell, believed to be the olde...

After 18 months of hard work, the Champaign County History Museum is BACK!  Thanks to the countless volunteers, donors and members the museum was able to reopen its doors with four new and exciting exhibits on April 29, 2017.  

 On Saturday, April 29th, the rain let up just long enough for Champaign Mayor Deb Feinen, the Board of Trustees and a great group of kids to cut t...

Take a tour of the Champaign County History Museum with TJ Blakeman, president of the board of directors.


Rick Danzl


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January 31, 2018