The Urbana Free Library’s website at offers access to a wealth of information for researchers, as well as teachers. For example, the links to databases and tools include online library databases (to be used in the library or online for patrons having an Urbana Library card); other databases (such as African American Gateway); general genealogy resources, Champaign County historical books online, newspapers (local and worldwide); public records, links for teachers, and more.

An important database worth noting is Archives Grid (a catalog that includes more than 4 million records describing personal papers, family histories, and more from over 1,000 archival institutions including the Champaign County Historical Archives.)

The Urbana Free Library at 210 W. Green St. remains closed to the public, but has recently announced the availability of curbside pickup. Phone (217) 367-4405 for information.


Jan (Arnold) Dowell, of Paxton has posted several blogs on the Internet pertaining to Roberts (Ford County), Ill., history and the Lyman Township Cemetery and St. Mary’s Cemetery. For example, at are photos of tombstones (e.g., Amelia Zahn Ebert), newspaper obituaries (some from “Paxton Record”), and a list of 21 Civil War veterans. Her blog on Roberts Illinois History at includes photos submitted by Roberts readers.

Researchers may find this trivia interesting. “When Ford County was part of Vermilion County, it was called Prairie City Township.”

Anyone whose ancestors lived in Roberts will find her blogs both interesting and informative.


Since genealogical researchers are being forced to study and research at home, the NGS is offering non-members free access to five years of its “NGS Monthly” through July 31. Visit; then Learning Center, NGS Monthly, then Archives (or current issue).


According to an article in “Jewish News Syndicate,” the Arolsen Archives (based in the German town of Bad Arolsen) recently reached a milestone by publishing 26 million documents in its online database with its partner, Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial center in Jerusalem.

Read the article at Click on “Arolsen Archives’ documents” (printed in red ink) for search instructions. Data includes information on forced laborers and deportations of Jews, Roma and Sinti from the former German Empire, Austria, Bohemia and Moravia.


It has been discovered during the beginning of Prague’s facelift project in the city’s landmark, Wenceslas Square, that Jewish gravestones had been used to pave the streets. Workers discovered that the undersides of the cobblestones contained Hebrew lettering, the Star of David, and deceased dates and “appear to have been taken from different cemeteries.” Read the article in The Guardian magazine at

An earlier article at tells of a television tower that was built on the site of the ancient Prague Jewish cemetery — “a dark reminder of the city’s anti-Semitic past.”

Queries, as well as a general exchange of genealogical material that readers would like to share, will be printed in the column for free. Contact Joan Griffis by e-mailing

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