Collections and Research

What We Collect

The Museum of the Grand Prairie collects objects, books, papers, and photographs pertaining to the history of east Central Illinois and Champaign County, particularly as it relates to the cultural and natural history of the area. Our choices are guided by our Interpretive Plan

Museum Research

Current Research

  • Do you remember 1968? A lot was going on that year in Champaign County and around the world. The museum, then the Early American Museum, opened that year. The war was raging in Vietnam, and society is turmoil and protest over civil rights. Men flew around the moon in Apollo 8, and American culture was reimagined.  We would love to hear your stories and see your collections from that tumultuous year.
  • World War I changed the world. 2018 marks the 100 anniversary of war’s conclusion. Champaign County played a role in that conflict, and paid a heavy price. We are always looking to explore how the men and women of our region endured the sacrifice and loss, and how it changed their lives. Do you have WWI veterans in your family or other stories or collections to share?
  • If it has to do with Abraham Lincoln in Champaign County, we want to know about it Let us know if you have family stories, recollections or information about Lincoln, especially in East Central Illinois.
  • The museum continually collects the personal recollections and histories of the people of East Central Illinois.

    Past Projects:

  • Blacksmithing, a vital trade for hundreds of years, was once essential to our communities as well. Committed to preserving the past for our region, our current research focuses on the re-creation of the Chesebro Blacksmith Shop (Saunemin). We have placed the shop in the context of East Central Illinois history in a new permanent exhibit, Blacksmithing on the Prairie.
  • In 1994, the museum secured a grant from the Illinois Arts Council to begin a field investigation of East Frisian culture in Champaign County. Immigrants from this region of northwestern Germany settled Illinois and Iowa in the nineteenth century. Beginning in the 1870s East Frisian families from western Illinois relocated to northeastern Champaign County and new immigrants from the old country subsequently joined them. Today the descendants of these people still live in the same communities and on many of the same farms. Oral histories have been conducted with these families and data from the project will be highlighted in a 1996 exhibit and used in an publication by a local historian.
  • In 1986, the Early American Museum (now the Museum of the Grand Prairie) joined with the Land of Lincoln Quilters Association to form the Illinois Quilt Research Project. Over a four year span, the committee traveled to thirty communities throughout the state and registered 15,808 quilts. The resulting publication, History From the Heart: Quilt Paths Across Illinois utilizes the findings of this project as it traces not only quilt history but two centuries of the Prairie State's history.


Interpretive Plan

The CCFPD interpretive plan establishes specific goals for the Museum of the Grand Prairie and helps us to build a structured vision of how to achieve them by communicating to our audience through meaningful exhibits and programs.  It combines developing, organizing and analyzing content into relevant and engaging messages, with creating exciting ways for visitors to experience this content.  An interpretive plan establishes the communication process, through which meanings and relationships of the cultural and natural world, past and present, are revealed to a visitor through experiences with objects, artifacts, landscapes, sites, exhibits and

Museum Library

Our reference library may be browsed by visiting Library Thing (  and  searching for member MusEduDept-CCFPD. Patrons can use the museum library for reference purposes by appointment only.  Call 217-586-1281 or email

Doris K. Wylie Hoskins Archive for Cultural Diversity

Mrs. Doris Baker (Wylie) Hoskins, was born October 18, 1911 in Champaign, Illinois and passed away in September, 2004, in Champaign, Illinois. She volunteered for many years with a number of institutions and organizations including the Committee on African American History in Champaign County, a partner organization of the Early American Museum (now Museum of the Grand Prairie). Serving as the group's archivist, Doris worked with African American families, religious institutions, businesses, and numerous other communities in an effort to establish a collection of historical materials that are now housed at the Doris Hoskins Archive. top

Archive Summary

The Doris K. Wylie Hoskins Archive for Cultural Diversity contains a wide body of materials featuring African American history in Champaign County and East Central Illinois. The archival materials extend from 1861 to 2010 with the majority ranging from 1930 to 2000.The collection consists of many different types of materials including scrapbooks,  photographs, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, handwritten notes, published and unpublished works, and oral history tapes and transcripts. Subjects include people, churches, health centers, musicians and bands, military outfits, African American-owned businesses, and historic events. Researchers are welcome by appointment only.  Call 217-586-1281 or email


Doris K. Wylie Hoskins Archive Finding Aid
The finding aid is a detailed summary of the materials held within the archive. The materials are grouped by subject and format. Please contact the Museum of the Grand Prairie if you need assistance finding a particular topic within the archive.

Duplication of Archival Materials
Doris Hoskins Archive materials may not be published or displayed, in full or in part, without written permission of the Museum of the Grand Prairie, Champaign County Forest Preserve. All material published or displayed must be credited to the Doris K. Wylie Hoskins Archive for Cultural Diversity, Museum of the Grand Prairie, Champaign County Forest Preserve District.

The Doris K Wylie Hoskins Archive materials can also be found on eBlackCU and the Champaign County Archives Local History Online (LHO), specifically if you search for Doris Hoskins.

African American History Newsletter

Since the early 1990s, the Museum of the Grand Prairie has been involved in the publication of the a newsletter recounting Champaign County African American History entitled Through The Years. Please Browse through all the back issues here!

  • Spring 2002 --Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church, Church Women United and more.
  • Spring 2001 --Special Millennium Issue-"A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words"
  • Summer 2001 --Continuing Memories Shared...
  • Summer 2000--The Shelton Laundry, Black Owned Businesses and more.
  • Fall/Winter 1999 -- Mercy Hospital School of Nursing, Francis Nelson Health Center and more.
  • Spring/Summer 1999 --Maudie Edwards, the Teacher; my Story and more.
  • Winter 1998 -- Salem Baptist Church, a Tribute to the 99th Pursuit Squadron and more.
  • Spring 1998 -- 99th Pursuit Squadron Technical Command, the Cotillion and more.
  • Summer 1997 -- Through the Years; African-American History Comes Home and more.
  • Spring 1997 -- Prepare for the Future, Music, Business, Church Photos and more.
  • Spring 1996 -- Portrait of a Family, Cornerstones of Black Businesses and more.
  • Spring 1995 -- Blacks in Champaign County 1865-1970, Family and more.
  • Winter 1995 -- Entrepreneurs, the Creation of the Douglass Center and more.