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Champaign, Illinois - History

Champaign, Illinois - History

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Champaign, Illinois

Champaign, Illinois - History

Champaign County , situated in the eastern half of the central belt of the State area, 1008 square miles population in 1900 was 47,622. The county was organized in 1833, and named for a county in Ohio. The physical conformation is flat, and the soil rich. The county lies in the heart of what was once called the "Grand Prairie". Workable seams of bituminous coal underlie the surface, but overlying quicksands interfere with their operation. The Sangamon and Kaskaskia Rivers have their sources in this region, and several railroads cross the county. The soil is a black muck underlaid by a yellow clay. Urbana (with a population of 5,708 in 1900) is the county seat. Other important points in the county are Champaign (9,000), Tolono (1,000), and Rantoul (1,200). Champaign and Urbana adjoin each other, and the grounds of the Illinois State University extend into each corporation, being largely situated in Champaign. Large drifted masses of Niagara limestone are found, interspersed with coal measure limestone and sandstone. Alternating beds of clay, gravel and quicksand of the drift formation are found beneath the subsoil to the depth of 150 to 300 feet.

CHAMPAIGN - a flourishing city in Champaign County, 128 miles southwest of Chicago and 83 miles northeast of Springfield is the intersecting point of three lines of railway and connected with the adjacent city of Urbana, the county-seat, by an electric railway. The University of Illinois, located in Urbana, is contiguous to the city. Champaign has an excellent system of water-works, well-paved streets, and is lighted by both gas and electricity. The surrounding country is agricultural, but the city has manufactories of carriages and machines. Three papers are published here, besides a college weekly conducted by the students of the University. The Burnham Hospital and the Garwood Old Ladies' Home are located in Champaign. In the residence portion of the city there is a handsome park, covering ten acres and containing a noteable piece of bronze statuary, and several smaller parks in other sections. There are several handsome churches, and excellent schools, both public and private. Population in 1890 was 5,839 in 1900, 9,098.

RANTOUL - a city in Champaign County, at the junction of the main line of the Illinois Central Railroad, with its West Lebanon and Leroy branch, 14 miles north-northeast of Champaign and 114 miles south by west of Chicago. It has a national bank, seven churches, opera house, graded school, two weekly papers, machine shops, flouring and flax mills, tile factories and many handsome residences. Population in 1900 was 1,207.

TOLONO - a city in Champaign County, situated at the intersection of the Wabash and the Illinois Central Railroads, 9 miles south of Champaign and 37 miles east-northeast of Decatur. It is the business center of a prosperous agricultural region. The town has five churches, a graded school, a bank, a button factory, and a weekly newspaper. Population in 1880 was 905 in 1890, 902 in 1900, 845

URBANA - a flourishing city, the county-seat of Champaign County, on the "Big Four", the Illinois Central and the Wabash Railways 130 miles south of Chicago and 31 miles west of Danville an agricultural and coal-mining region. The mechanical industries include extensive railroad shops, manufacture of brick, suspenders and lawn-mowers. The Cunningham Deaconesses' Home and Orphanage is located here. The city has water-works, gas and electric light plants, electric car-lines (local and interurban), superior schools, nine churches, three banks and three newspapers. Urbana is the seat of the University of Illinois. Population in 1890 was 3,511 in 1900, 5,728.


Champaign was founded in 1855, when the Illinois Central Railroad laid its rail track two miles (3 km) west of downtown Urbana. Originally called "West Urbana", it was renamed Champaign when it acquired a city charter in 1860. Both the city and county name were derived from Champaign County, Ohio. [7]

During February 1969, Carl Perkins joined with Bob Dylan to write the song "Champaign, Illinois", which Perkins released on his album On Top. [8] The band Old 97's took another Bob Dylan song, "Desolation Row", and combined its melody with new lyrics to make a new song "Champaign, Illinois", which they released with Dylan's blessing on their 2010 album The Grand Theatre Volume One. It achieved considerable popularity. The two "Champaign, Illinois" songs are not similar to each other, except that Bob Dylan was involved in both of them.

On September 22, 1985, Champaign hosted the first Farm Aid concert at the University of Illinois' Memorial Stadium. The concert drew a crowd of 80,000 people and raised over $7 million for American family farmers.

In 2005, Champaign-Urbana (specifically the University of Illinois) was the location of the National Science Olympiad Tournament, attracting young scientists from all 50 states. The city also hosts the state Science Olympiad competition every year. The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign once again hosted the National competition on May 20–22, 2010.

Joan Stevens was the city's first female Mayor, serving between 1979 and 1983. [9] Deb Frank Feinen, who has served as Mayor since 2015, is the city's second female Mayor. [9] In May 2017, the city's first female-majority city council was sworn in. [10]

Location Edit

According to the 2010 census, Champaign has a total area of 22.457 square miles (58.16 km 2 ), of which 22.43 square miles (58.09 km 2 ) (or 99.88%) is land and 0.027 square miles (0.07 km 2 ) (or 0.12%) is water. [11]

Champaign is a city in central Illinois and is located on relatively high ground, providing sources to the Kaskaskia River to the west, and the Embarras River to the south. Downtown Champaign drains into Boneyard Creek, which feeds the Saline Branch of the Salt Fork Vermilion River. [12]

Champaign shares a border with the neighboring city of Urbana together they are home to the University of Illinois. Champaign, Urbana, and the bordering village of Savoy form the Champaign-Urbana Metropolitan Area also known as Champaign-Urbana. It may also be colloquially known as the "Twin Cities" or Chambana. [ citation needed ]

Climate Edit

The city has a humid continental climate, typical of the Midwestern United States, with hot summers and cold, moderately snowy winters. Temperatures exceed 90 °F (32.2 °C) on an average of 24 days per year, and typically fall below 0 °F (−17.8 °C) on six nights annually. [13] The record high temperature in Champaign was 109 °F (42.8 °C) in 1954, and the record low was −25 °F (−31.7 °C), recorded on four separate occasions − in 1899, 1905, 1994 and 1999. [14]

Climate data for Champaign, Illinois
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 70
Average high °F (°C) 33.8
Average low °F (°C) 18.2
Record low °F (°C) −25
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.90
Average snowfall inches (cm) 6.1
Source 1: Weatherbase [15]
Source 2: Homefacts [16]
Historical population
Census Pop.
18704,625 167.8%
18805,103 10.3%
18905,839 14.4%
19009,098 55.8%
191012,421 36.5%
192015,873 27.8%
193020,348 28.2%
194023,302 14.5%
195039,563 69.8%
196049,583 25.3%
197056,837 14.6%
198058,133 2.3%
199063,502 9.2%
200067,518 6.3%
201081,055 20.0%
2019 (est.)88,909 [3] 9.7%
U.S. Census Bureau [17]

As of the 2010 census, [18] 81,055 people and 34,434 total housing units in Champaign. The population density was 3,974.6 people per square mile (1,534.4/km 2 ). There were 28,556 housing units at an average density of 1,681.0 per square mile (648.9/km 2 ). The racial makeup of the city was 67.8% White, 15.62% African-American, 0.3% Native American, 10.6% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.7% from other races, and 3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino individuals of any race made up 6.3% of the population.

According to the 2010 Census the city's 32,152 households, 21.5% included children under age 18, 33.1% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 53.7% were non-families. 35.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.25 persons and the average family size was 2.97.

According to the 2010 Census of all individuals, 17.3% were under age 18, 22.5% from 20 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 18% from 45 to 64, and 7.6% were age 65 or older. The median age was 25.7 years. For every 100 females, there were 102.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.9 males.

According to the 2010 Census the median income for a household in the city was $41,403, and the median income for a family was $72,819. The per capita income for the city was $24,855. About 11.9% of families and 26.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.0% of those under age 18 and 7.6% of those age 65 or over.

In addition to the University of Illinois, Champaign is also home to Parkland College. Herff Jones, formerly Collegiate Cap and Gown, and Kraft also form part of the city's industrial base. Kraft's plant is one of the largest pasta factories in North America.

Champaign is also home to nationally recognized record labels, artist management companies, booking agencies and recording studios. Polyvinyl Records, Undertow Music, Parasol Records, Great Western Record Recorders, Pogo Studios, and Nicodemus Booking Agency are all based in Champaign.

In April 2011, The Christian Science Monitor named Champaign-Urbana one of the five cities leading the economic turnaround based on jobs the information sector added over 300 jobs within a year and unemployment dropped 2.1%. [19]

Research Park Edit

The city also features a large technology and software industry mostly focusing on research and development of new technologies. The Research Park, located in southern Champaign and backed by the University of Illinois, is home to many companies, including Riverbed Technology, Citrix Systems, Abbott Laboratories, Dow Innovation Center, Intelligent Medical Objects, Yahoo! and the State Farm Research Center. [20] [21] Numerous other software and technology companies also have offices in Champaign including AMD, Intel, IBM, Amdocs, Infobright, Instarecon, Phonak, Power World, Caterpillar Simulation Center, and Volition. The largest high technology employer is Wolfram Research, with more than 400 employees in Champaign. [22] The United States Army Corps of Engineers maintains the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) in Champaign.

Top employers Edit

According to the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation, [23] the top ten employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign 13,934
2 Carle Hospital 6,921
3 Champaign Unit 4 School District 1,664
4 Kraft Heinz 925
5 Christie Clinic 916
6 Champaign County 893
7 Urbana School District #116 828
8 FedEx 815
9 OSF HealthCare 774
10 Parkland College 741

Startups Edit

The Champaign-Urbana community is a well-known hub for startups, including a top ranking from Silicon Prairie News in 2019. [24]

Landmarks and districts Edit

Downtown Edit

In the 1980s, part of the downtown Champaign area (Neil St.) was closed to vehicular traffic to create a pedestrian mall, but this short-lived experiment was scrapped when business declined. As part of a revitalization effort, One Main Development constructed two new mixed-use buildings: One Main and M2 on Neil. The City of Champaign gave $3.7 million in tax incentives for the building of M2 and agreed to pay nearly $11 million for a new parking deck. [25]

This growth in downtown Champaign coincided with the larger growth of the "north Prospect" shopping district on the city's northern boundary. The growth in the north Prospect area relied, in part, on leapfrogging, moving out to the countryside and developing more remote farm land that eventually connects to the main development. Given the overwhelming success of such suburban shopping areas nationally, new development within any city center represented an alternative to the dominant movement out and away from the cities.

In April 2007, One Main Development broke ground on M2 on Neil, a nine-story, $40 million, mixed-use project – the largest ever for downtown Champaign – located at the corner of Neil and Church Street. M2 on Neil features retail and office space, and 50 upscale condominiums.

The project was expected to be complete in late 2008, but experienced delays in construction, partially due to $5 Million in mechanics liens filed against One Main Development, [26] as well as a large fire on an adjacent property that caused substantial facade damage to M2. [27] Construction on the commercial shell and core and the residences was completed in the Summer of 2009. New condo owners began moving into M2 in April 2009 and the first ground-floor tenant, a branch of local BankChampaign, opened its doors in November 2009. [28] Destihl, a restaurant and brewpub, opened in Spring 2011, and two other restaurants opened in ground-floor space in Fall 2011.

The City of Champaign has constructed a six-story parking structure on Hill Street adjacent to M2, intended to service the greater Downtown it was completed in May 2009. [29]

The Champaign City Building serves as the City Hall and is a recognizable landmark. The building replaces the original city building, which sat on the same site until 1937.

Art Theater Co-op Edit

The Art Theater Co-op, which showed independent and foreign films, was built in 1913 as the Park Theatre. From 1969 to 1986, it showed adult films. [30] Until October 2019, it was the only single-screen movie theater operating daily in Champaign-Urbana, and was the United States's first co-operatively owned art movie theater. It closed in October 2019. [31] [32]

Virginia Theatre Edit

The historic Virginia Theatre is a recently restored 1525-seat movie theater, dating back to the 1920s. It has an ornate, Spanish Renaissance-influenced interior, full stage and dressing rooms, and an elaborate Wurlitzer pipe organ. It hosts Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival [33] and has a single 56' x 23' screen. The theater does not have a daily show schedule, but schedules special screenings and live performances several times each month.

Campustown Edit

Located along Green Street, this commercial district serves as the entertainment and retail center for students at the University of Illinois and citizens of the Champaign-Urbana Metropolitan Area. This area has been undergoing change since 2002 with the completion of a new $7 million streetscape project. Campustown is now attracting new retail and entertainment stores as well as serving as the center for new construction projects. Several new projects opened in 2008 including the 18-story Burnham 310 high-rise and grocery store at 4th and Springfield, and a new 24-story apartment building called 309 Green. [34]

The newly renamed Tower at 3rd (formerly Champaign Hilton, Century 21, Quality Inn, University Inn, Presidential Tower) is located in the University District and is over twenty stories high. A hotel until 2001, it currently houses student apartments. [35]

A new 14-story apartment complex was completed in 2014 at the intersection of 6th and Green streets (site of the former Gameday Spirit). [36] A 12-story, mixed-use complex consisting of a hotel, apartments and parking was scheduled to be completed by August 2015. The mixed-use complex is reported to consist of two towers which will be connected by a skywalk. A 27-story apartment building is planned at 308 East Green Street. [37] This high-rise is reported to have an automated parking vault which will be operated by an elevator. [38]

Museums and libraries Edit

    . [39] A hands on science museum for children. . [40] An Art Museum featuring both modern and classical art owned by the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. It has 48,000 square feet (4,500 m 2 ) of space devoted to all periods of art, from ancient Egyptian to contemporary photography.
  • Champaign County Historical Museum. [41] Located in the Historic Cattle Bank built in 1858. Features exhibits on the history of the area and the midwest as a whole.

Illinois Fighting Illini Edit

The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign fields ten men and eleven women varsity sports.

Illinois Fighting Illini
Team Established Big Ten Conference Titles NCAA Postseason Appearances National Titles Venue Opened Capacity
Football 1890 15 17 5 Memorial Stadium 1923 60,670
Men's Basketball 1905 17 30 1 State Farm Center 1963 15,500
Women's Basketball 1974 1 8 0 State Farm Center 1963 15,500
Baseball 1879 [42] 29 10 0 Illinois Field 1988 3,000
Women's Volleyball 1974 [43] 4 22 0 Huff Hall 1925 4,050
Men's Gymnastics 1898 [44] 24 44 10 Huff Hall 1925 4,050

Minor League Baseball Edit

During its history, the city has been home to several separate minor league baseball clubs. The first in 1889 was a shared club between Champaign and Logansport, Indiana called the Logansport/Champaign-Urbana Clippers. The Clippers played for one season in the Illinois–Indiana League before folding. [45]

The city hosted its second team, the Champaign-Urbana Velvets from 1911 to 1914 who played in the Illinois–Missouri League until the league disbanded after 1914. [46]

The city's most recent minor league team was the Champaign-Urbana Bandits who played during the single 1994 season of the Great Central League. [47] The Bandits played at Illinois Field. Prior to holding postseason play, the league folded.

Twice Champaign was also home to a Collegiate Summer Baseball League team. The city's Champaign County Colts were a founding member of the Central Illinois Collegiate League from 1963 to 1964. In 1990 the Colts were revived as the Champaign-Urbana Colts until the team folded in 1996. The more recent club played its home games at Illinois Field. [48]

Minor League Basketball Edit

In October 2014, the Midwest Professional Basketball Association announced the creation of the Champaign Swarm as one of its founding members, that began play at the Dodds Athletic Center in January 2015.

Stadiums Edit

Memorial Stadium Edit

Built from 1922 to 1923, Memorial Stadium was named in honor of the students and faculty members who died overseas during World War I. Since opening in 1923, Memorial Stadium has been home to Illinois Fighting Illini football. The stadium also was the temporary home of the NFL's Chicago Bears for the 2002 season while its regular venue Soldier Field was being renovated.

State Farm Center Edit

Originally known as the Assembly Hall, the State Farm Center is home to the Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball and Illinois Fighting Illini women's basketball teams. It holds the annual Broadway Series, which features popular musicals.

There are 60 parks, 11 trails, and 14 facilities within the city of Champaign, totaling over 654 acres (2.65 km 2 ). [49]

K-12 education Edit

Champaign is also served by three private high schools. The largest of the three is a Roman Catholic High school, St. Thomas More High School which is located on the city's far northwest side. The school opened in 2000 and is the newest charter of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria.

The second is Judah Christian School, which is located just south of I-74 on Prospect Avenue. Judah Christian opened in 1983 and serves about 120 9th- 12th grade students. The entire school's pre-K through 12th grade enrollment is a little more than 500 students.

The third is Academy High, which is an accredited, Independent high school located in South Champaign on Fox Drive. Academy High opened in 1997 and serves 60 9th - 12th grade students. The school reflects the innovative culture of Champaign-Urbana and is designed to be student-centered, highly collaborative, and project-based.

Higher education Edit

Located within Champaign are two institutions of higher education, the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and Parkland College.

FM radio Edit

  • 88.3 W201CK (Translates 90.7 KHRI) "Air 1", Christian CHR
  • 88.7 WPCD, Parkland College College radio
  • 89.3 WGNJ, Religious
  • 90.1 WEFT, Community radio
  • 90.9 WILL-FM, Classical music (RDS)
  • 91.7 WBGL, Christian AC (RDS)
  • 92.1 W221CK "Extra 92.1" Rock (RDS – Artist/Title)
  • 92.5 WREE "Rewind 92.5", Classic hits (RDS – Artist/Title)
  • 93.5 WSJK, Talk/sports
  • 94.5 WLRW "Mix 94.5" Hot AC (RDS – Artist/Title) (HD Radio)
  • 95.3 WJEK, Adult contemporary
  • 96.1 WQQB "Q 96", CHR/Pop (RDS)
  • 97.5 WHMS-FM "Lite Rock 97.5" Adult contemporary
  • 98.3 WPEO-FM, Christian
  • 99.1 WYXY "WYXY Classic" Country (RDS – Artist/Title)
  • 99.7 W259BG "HITS 99.7" Top 40
  • 100.3 WIXY "WIXY 100.3" Country (RDS – Artist/Title)
  • 101.1 W266AF (Translates 90.9 WILL-FM HD2), Classical music
  • 102.5 WGNN, Religious
  • 103.9 W280DE (Translates 102.5 WGNN), Religious
  • 104.5 WRFU-LP "Radio Free Urbana", Variety
  • 105.5 WCZQ "Hot 105.5" Hip Hop & R&B
  • 105.9 WGKC, Classic rock (RDS)
  • 106.5 simulcast of 1460 AMWKJR, Spanish Music
  • 107.1 WPGU, "Champaign's Alternative", Alternative rock
  • 107.9 WKIO "U-Rock 107.9" Classic rock

AM radio Edit

NOAA Weather Radio Edit

NOAA Weather Radio station WXJ76 transmits from Champaign and is licensed to NOAA's National Weather Service Central Illinois Weather Forecast Office at Lincoln, broadcasting on a frequency of 162.550 MHz (channel 7 on most newer weather radios, and most SAME weather radios). The station activates the SAME tone alarm feature and a 1050 Hz tone activating older radios (except for AMBER Alerts, using the SAME feature only) for hazardous weather and non-weather warnings and emergencies, along with selected weather watches, for the Illinois counties of Champaign, Coles, DeWitt, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Moultrie, Piatt, and Vermillion. Weather permitting, a tone alarm test of both the SAME and 1050 Hz tone features are conducted every Wednesday between 11 AM and Noon.

Television Edit

  • 3 WCIA, CBS
  • 7 W07DD-D, Three Angels Broadcasting Network
  • 12 WILL-TV, PBS
  • 15 WICD "NewsChannel 15", ABC
  • 17 WAND, NBC
  • 23 WBUI, CW
  • 27 WCCU "Fox 55/27"
  • 34 W33AY-D, Trinity Broadcasting Network
  • 44 WBXC-CA, MTV 2
  • 49 WCIX "My WCFN TV" My Network TV
  • 51 WEIU, PBS

Print and electronic media Edit

    , daily local newspaper
  • Daily Illini, campus newspaper
  • The Booze News, former satirical campus newspaper, now called The Black Sheep
  • Buzz Weekly, weekly entertainment magazine
  • Prospectus News, Parkland College's independent student newspaper
  • Smile Politely, Champaign-Urbana's online magazine

Transportation Edit

Champaign is served by I-57, I-72, I-74, two railroad lines, and the University of Illinois operated Willard Airport (CMI).

In 2009, the Champaign-Urbana metropolitan statistical area (MSA) ranked as the fourth highest in the United States for percentage of commuters who walked to work (9 percent). [50] In 2013, the Champaign-Urbana MSA ranked as the eleventh lowest in the United States for percentage of workers who commuted by private automobile (78.4 percent). During the same year, 7.9 percent of Champaign area commuters walked to work. [51]

Highways Edit

Airport Edit

Housed at the Willard Airport was the University of Illinois Institute of Aviation, which was forced to close for the 2013–2014 academic year due to university budget cuts after 60 years of operation.

Mass transit Edit

The local bus system, which is supported by the taxpayers of the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD) and the University of Illinois, serves Champaign, Urbana, Savoy, and surrounding areas. The C-U MTD has twice been named as the best local transit system in the United States. [52]

Illinois Terminal Edit

In 1999, a newly designed intermodal transportation center, aptly named Illinois Terminal by historic reference to the defunct electric interurban rail line that once ran through Champaign, was completed and serves as a central facility for intercity passenger rail, bus services as well as the MTD's local bus network.

Rail Edit

Amtrak provides service to Champaign-Urbana by: Train 58/59, the City of New Orleans Train 390/391, the Saluki and Train 392/393, the Illini.

The former Illinois Central Railroad line — now part of the Canadian National system — runs north to south through the city. A spur line from the Canadian National line provides service to several large industries, including two large food processing plants, on the west edge of Champaign and two grain elevators in outlying communities to the west. The Norfolk Southern operates an east to west line through Champaign. The NS line connects industries in eastern Urbana to the Norfolk Southern main line at Mansfield, Illinois, west of Champaign. The line now operated by Norfolk Southern is the former Peoria & Eastern Railway, later operated as part of the Big Four (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway), New York Central, Penn Central, and Conrail systems, being sold by Conrail to Norfolk Southern in 1996. Construction of the line was begun by the Danville, Urbana, Bloomington and Pekin Railroad. This short-lived entity became part of the Indianapolis, Bloomington and Western Railway before the railroad was completed.

Champaign, Illinois - History

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The Players

You understand the logistics, but WHY would you want to go?

Well, did you watch HoP last year? They were fun as hell.

Right now, fan favorite Malcolm Hill isn’t on the roster for 2021, but a ton of other returnees are, including Andres Feliz, who made a strong showing last summer and got his name on the national radar.

Speaking of national radar, how about Daumination? Yeah, honorary Illini Mike Daum is back this year, after finishing as one of the leading scorers in NCAA history at South Dakota State.

The biggest name joining head coach Mike LaTulip’s squad this year, however, has to be former NBAer and Illini Brandon Paul. BP3 is the ninth-leading scorer in Illinois history and is certainly a welcome addition to the team looking to secure the $1 million, winner-take-all prize in August.

Global Impact

UIUC is more than just a university. It is a hub of research and innovation. It is a diverse and inclusive community of people who are already making a global impact. It is a creative cultural microcosm where the arts flourish along with the sciences. It is everything an academic institution ought to be and more. Our academic tradition and continued commitment to making the world a better place have changed lives for the better.

"The hungry eyes of toiling millions are turned, with mingled hope and fear, upon us to see what new and better solution we can possibly offer of the great problems on which their well-being and destiny depend."

After a long year of COVID-related closures, we are excited to reopen to the public.

We have a small amount of space in our museum, therefore, we will be opening with a reduced capacity of six people or two parties at any one time. All patrons will be required to wear a mask while inside the museum. Reserve your 1-hour museum pass below to ensure you have a reservation at the Museum!

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Our Exhibits

We use our vast collection to currate special exhibits exploring various aspects our county's history.

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Our Collection

Learn about our 20,000+ items and how you can add your piece of history.

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Educational Programs

Allow history to come to life at one of our various educational programs

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Today we read about countries that limit or prohibit women from getting an education. We take it as a given that women should have a chance for an education! But that hasn&rsquot always been the case even in the United States. In 1900 in the United States there were few opportunities for young women to obtain a college education. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a land-grant college, was one of the pioneers in providing higher education to women. Professor Isabel Bevier, whose portrait hangs in the building named for her, Bevier Hall, 905 S. Goodwin (the location of our department&rsquos main office), was hired to establish a program in Household Science for young women in 1900.

Miss Bevier created a nationally recognized program in Home Economics that provided a college degree for thousands of young women through the 20th century. Faculty in Home Economics revolutionized our understanding of family life and created the scientific study of child development, nutrition, family economics, sanitation and many other topics. Home Economics programs have gone through many changes, but the Department of Human Development and Family Studies is a direct and proud heir to the tradition of the scientific study of children, families and communities. (For a more extensive history of Bevier see this dissertation, chapter 4, pages 159-224.)

Another milestone in our history was the creation of a &ldquochild study lab&rdquo at the University of Illinois in 1941. The first "child development lab" was in the Women&rsquos Building (known today as the English Building) on the main Quad. Ms. Frances Perkins was the first director of the Lab and students learned about child development first hand. In 1955 the Child Development Laboratory (1105 West Nevada) building was built.

The Child Development Laboratory (known as CDL) included observation deck so that students and researchers could observe the children. In 2003 an additional Early Child Development Laboratory Building (1005 West Nevada) was designed and erected to provide child care to children between the ages of six weeks and 3 years of age. Today undergraduate students from over 20 programs and departments learn about children and gain their first experiences working with children in the CDL/ECDL.

In order to create more opportunities for students to learn about families, Ms. Doris Kelley Christopher, an alumnus and the founder and chairman of The Pampered Chef ®, Ltd. provided a generous gift that allowed us to build Christopher Hall which is headquarters for the Family Resiliency Center that includes a unique family observation research home, The Autism Program, a resource center, modern classrooms, and offices and lab space for faculty and graduate students.

Now over 100 years since the creation of our program, we continue to provide students with a chance to learn about children and families and to provide new insights about quality child care, healthy family interactions and positive human development. You can help write the next chapter in this history by becoming a student in our programs or providing support for scholarships for future Beviers and Christophers!


Since its earliest days over a century ago, the iSchool at Illinois has been at the forefront of shaping professional practice and the development of research, teaching, and scholarship in library and information science. Listed below are some highlights from our distinguished history.

The School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has its beginnings rooted in both a revolutionary woman and the turn-of-the-century times that surrounded her. When Katharine Sharp was completing her library degree at the New York State Library School in 1892, her merits as a librarian had captured the attention of Melvil Dewey who then recommended her to the Reverend Frank W. Gunsaulus, newly appointed president of the recently established Armour Institute in Chicago, as director of the institute's programs: "I want the best man in America to start the library and library school and carry out your [sic] ideas. The best man in America is a woman, and she is in the next room" (cited in Grotzinger, 1992, p. 5).

The first library science program in the Midwest began in the fall of 1893 with Sharp and May Bennett as the sole instructors two more were added in 1896 and by 1897, after graduating fifty-nine students, Sharp had come to realize that her dream of a university-anchored library program was not going to take root in the technical school atmosphere of the Armour. Sought by both the Universities of Wisconsin and Illinois, Sharp opted for Illinois and in the fall of 1897, the Illinois State Library School opened in Urbana.

By 1903 the faculty numbered six to the forty-seven students, and the university library of 40,000 volumes had been organized and management established (Grotzinger, 1992, p. 12). Through her strong sense of purpose and leadership in the new discipline of library science, Sharp led the Illinois State Library School to a point of excellence and achievement rivaling the largest programs including that of her mentor, Melvil Dewey. Katharine Sharp retired from the school in 1907 but left in her wake a firm foundation of excellence and accomplishment that would mature into the current-day School of Information Sciences.

Since its beginnings at the Armour Institute in Chicago, through its move to Urbana as the Illinois State Library School, the school has changed as the discipline has changed. Renamed as the University of Illinois Library School in 1926 as the program became a graduate school, the Graduate School of Library Science in 1959 with research and a doctoral program being added, to the Graduate School of Library and Information Science in 1981 to recognize new aspects of librarianship, the program has graduated nearly 7,000 students and has been instrumental in both defining the discipline and providing qualified professionals to the field.

— Brief history by Kevin Ward (MS '95)

Reference: Grotzinger, L. (1992). Remarkable beginnings: The first half century of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. In W. C. Allen & R. F. Delzell (Eds.), Ideals and Standards: The History of the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Urbana-Champaign, IL: Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois.

Note: See the American Library Association Archives at the University of Illinois Archives website for “The Best Man in America is a Woman:" Katharine L. Sharp and the First “Lady Librarians” (published September 30, 2013).

History of School name changes

1893 Founded as the library science program at the Armour Institute of Technology in Chicago
1897 Department of Library Science moved to Urbana renamed Illinois State Library School
1926 Renamed University of Illinois Library School
1959 Renamed Graduate School of Library Science
1981 Renamed Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS)
2016 Renamed School of Information Sciences

"Illinois Innovators," a program produced by the Big Ten Network, highlights the ways in which Illinois's academic programs, students, and faculty are changing the world. In this premiere episode, the "Women Who Went West" segment details the incredible history of the iSchool, which sent the first librarians to the frontier under the leadership of the School's first dean, Katharine Sharp. As pioneers immigrated to the western towns of Wyoming, New Mexico, and Oregon, iSchool graduates set up libraries to educate the growing population. Often the only women for miles, these librarians created successful literacy programs with very little resources.

Watch the video: Best Attractions u0026 Things to do in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois IL (May 2022).