eBlack Champaign-Urbana is working on a new project to digitize and index the yearbooks of the Gamma Upsilon Psi Society’s annual Cotillion Ball. This is a great resource to find out about the history of Champaign-Urbana. Just click Browse Items to get started going through the Yearbooks. Or search for the name of an individual to see if they pop up. Please note that only a portion of the yearbooks have been indexed.
The first Cotillion Ball was held in 1972 and was sponsored by members of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. The purpose of the Cotillion was to highlight and provide scholarships for talented and hardworking young, African American women who were graduating from local high schools. In 1977, the Gamma Upsilon Psi Society became the sole sponsor of the Ball. The Cotillion Ball is still held every year, and the resulting yearbooks document the young women and men involved in the pageants and the families, friends, and local businesses in the community that support them.
The Cotillion Yearbook Database continues the mission of eBlackCU, which is a collaborative portal on African-American history and culture in Champaign-Urbana that ALL are welcome to use and add to. eBlackCU is sponsored by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Public Engagement at the University of Illinois at Urban-Champaign. The digitization and indexing of the yearbooks is an on-going project, and members of the community are more than welcome to help in this endeavor from home or at local libraries. Just contact Noah Lestra (firstname.lastname@example.org) to find out how you can help!