On Nov. 9, 2019, the Champaign County History Museum had a grand opening of our newest exhibit, “The Harris Mansion Heist: From Opulence to Depression.”
At this time, I was not the museum manager but had spent the previous two weeks helping the museum prepare for the exhibit with some handiwork.
During the night of the opening, my wife and I decided to tour the other museum exhibits after walking through the newest display.
When we entered the World War II exhibit space, there was a tall gentleman viewing one of the wall panels whom I quickly recognized as a local genealogy researcher from my other job at the Champaign County Historical Archives.
As we made our way around the room, he called us over to view the same panel.
The man, whose name is Louie Green, pointed to a picture with two gentleman: “This older man, Frederick Green, was my grandfather, and this here was my father, Fred Green. He was in the war and became a local judge.”
After I took my position as museum manager, I started to see Green more and more both in the museum and in the archives.
I learned more about his contributions to local history over the years and how his efforts have impacted both institutions.
For nearly four decades, Green volunteered for the museum and the archives and in many ways epitomizes the extraordinary efforts of local people who support our history and how our institutions depend on volunteers to accomplish our goals.
In the case of Green, he first started volunteering after the Urbana Courier closed and the archives acquired their newspaper clippings.
He volunteered to index the clippings on the computer and then snail-mailed the articles to people across the country who were mentioned in them.
Following this, he worked to index obituaries for the archives, as well as copied family histories, had them bound and donated them.
In the late 1980s and early ’90s, Green compiled clippings from the Courier related to World War I, World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War and had them bound into books, with the World War II books spanning three volumes.
Later in the 2000s, he made one for the Spanish American War as well.
These titles can be found on the library shelves of the museum.
Those who do research at the museum find Green’s name attached to numerous disparate documents and artifacts.
It’s a testament to his years of dedication to preserving local history.
Green’s efforts over the past four decades are just a sample of the great things volunteers have done and continue to accomplish in cultural heritage institutions locally and abroad.
Our mission at the museum to preserve and present Champaign County history would not be possible without the passions of those willing to sacrifice their time for the benefit of our local history.
It would be impossible to thank every person who has given their time to our local cultural heritage institutions, but there is no doubt that having the support of folks like Louie Green ensure our past and future are preserved.