About the Project

The Project

This project takes a multilayered approach to telling the history of the University within an overarching narrative that integrates the idea of place via maps, 3D imagery, and archival content. There are three components to this website.

  • Campus History: The University history can be explored through seven different eras and multiple themes within each era. Including in the telling of our history are images, original documents, maps, and building models.
  • Interactive Maps: A web-based mapping application has been used to demonstrate the growth of the campus through its building initiative. The Project Team plans to incorporate historic campus maps, aerial imagery, photographs, and architectural renderings to enhance the interactive timeline.
  • Map Archives: A digital repository of University and Champaign-Urbana maps held across Library units, by Facilities and Services (F&S), and by the Champaign County Historical Archives. Taken together, these three areas will to introduce our rich history in innovative ways to new and old audiences of students, faculty, administrators, and the public.

A note about the completion status of the project: The history of a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign spans fifteen decades and thousands of people including the students, faculty, and staff. Each era takes significant research to find write a history, draw its physical changes, and find primary documents. This means that the project team is constantly working to add more content to the themes and eras, and that the level of completeness may vary. The depth of material also provides an opportunity for others to contribute to project through class work or individual research. Examples of this include James Scholars from the School of Architecture doing a project on the nineteenth century Engineering Hall or history internships developing several Story Maps with HIST 199. We welcome contributions from the University Community to help to provide more depth and be more inclusive in how we document our story. Please contact the project team if you would like to begin a project or want your work to be considered for inclusion.

The Team

Ellen D. Swain, Archivist for Student Life/Culture, University Archives
Marci S. Uihlein, Associate Professor, Illinois School of Architecture
James V. Whitacre, GIS Specialist, Library Scholarly Commons:

This project began in the fall of 2015 with University of Illinois community members from three different departments – Ellen Swain from the University Archives, James V. Whitacre from the Scholarly Commons at the University Library, and Marci S. Uihlein from the School of Architecture. Each sought to create a project to highlight the extraordinary history of the University of Illinois for its sesquicentennial anniversary. The team found that we had overlapping goals to expand this history to include the built environment of the campus through the buildings, the spaces that we inhabit, and the development of the university from a single building to what we see today. We formed a team that had much energy and excitement about being part of such an interdisciplinary endeavor. Since this time, our team has grown to include many more from all parts of the University, a significant number of volunteers many of whom your will see listed below. This project has been funded by a substantial grant from the University Library Innovation’s Fund, and many thanks must be given to the University Library for believing in such a project. Additional funding sources include the Stewart S. Howe Endowment, Student Life and Culture Archives, and the Illinois School of Architecture.

John Franch, project historian and author
Tara Chattoraj (Student Life and Culture Archives)
Joe Porto (Library Scholarly Commons)
Kurt Bielema, Single Stereo LTD
Terry Maher, contributing author

Students (classwork), student assistants and interns
Department of History interns
Illinois School of Architecture graduate students
Student Life and Culture Archives undergraduate students

University of Illinois University Archives | Student Life and Culture Archives
University of Illinois Library: Scholarly Commons | Conservation | Preservation | Digital Content Creation | Map Library
Illinois School of Architecture
Facilities and Services | Campus Plan Team
Champaign County Historical Archives
University of Illinois Alumni Association

University Library Innovation Funding
Stewart S. Howe Endowment, Student Life and Culture Archives
Illinois School of Architecture