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 and its residents. It’s open seven days a week, year-round. No appointment or library card is necessary to visit.
Why visit? the Archives houses materials for local history researchers and family historians, but also has great collections and programs for teachers, K-12 and university students, Scout troops and anyone else who is curious about local history.
From databases that provide access to genealogical resources worldwide to unique collections that document local life from the 1830s to the present day, the Archives has a diverse array of resources to aid in genealogical and local history research.
What types of collections are available for browsing? From its humble beginnings as a collection of four filing cabinets in the library’s basement, the Archives has grown into its own department of the library and is the repository for Champaign County’s non-current records.
Today, the Archives has print collections in a number of formats such as books, journals, yearbooks, atlases, maps and microfilm; photographs organized by subject, name or street address; Champaign County government records such as chancery court cases, probate, will and estate papers; vital records like birth, marriage, death and naturalization records; and special collections, which include materials from personal collections and those of local organizations and businesses.
Want to know the history of your house? Browse our city directories dating from 1870 to the present. Users can search these volumes for an individual’s name, a business name or a street address. We also have a collection of local title abstracts of more than 5,000 homes in Champaign County.
Other resources to aid in researching the history of a house include plat maps dating to 1863, Sanborn fire insurance maps and hundreds of historic resource surveys.
Building your family tree? For Champaign County research, we have vital records, county histories and family files. We also hold a sizeable collection of family history books arranged by surname. Local History Online is the convenient and comprehensive catalog tour holdings, with local resources indexed and cataloged by name, subject and title.
If your family tree is outside of the county, no worries. We have your research needs covered with subscriptions to Ancestry.com Library Edition, Heritage Quest, Newspapers.com and an affiliate status with FamilySearch.org.
Interested in visiting? The Champaign County Historical Archives is located on the second floor of the Urbana Free Library. The hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday; and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Donica Martin is a librarian at the Champaign County Historical Archives of the Urbana Free Library. She is also the editor of the Champaign County Genealogical Society Quarterly publication.