Illinois, Cook County Deaths (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.

Contents

 Image Visibility

Due to the provisions and guidelines of a newly revised contract with Cook County,  FamilySearch has removed all images for Illinois, Cook County vital records from its historical records collections online; free indexes to the collections will remain.

As part of our new agreement, FamilySearch will receive an additional 4.7 million records for FamilySearch patrons from the over 9 million free indexed records in the Cook County collection. The following collections are affected by the change:

  • Illinois, Cook County Birth Certificates, 1878-1922
  • Illinois, Cook County Birth Registers, 1871-1915
  • Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1922
  • Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871-1920

Original images can be ordered or viewed through the following mediums.

1.  Microfilm and microfiche from the Family History Library are available via Online Film Ordering in most parts of the world. The film number is included in the source information found on the index of the record. https://www.familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Ordering_Microfilm_or_Microfiche  

2.  Illinois, Cook County web site http://cookcountygenealogy.com/  (pay site)

3.  Request a digital copy of items found in the Family History Library  catalog services from the Family History Library (photoduplication). Include source information found on the index of the record in your request.    https://www.familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Photoduplication_Services

Record Description

This collection consists of a name index to deaths for Chicago and Cook County, Illinois. It covers the years 1878-1939 and 1959-1995.

For copies of the certificate for this time period please contact Cook County.

Record Content

Illinois death records may contain the following information:

  • Name of deceased
  • Gender and race of deceased
  • Age of death in years, months and days
  • Date and place of death
  • Cause of death and duration of illness
  • Occupation of deceased
  • Marital status
  • Nationality and place of birth
  • Place of burial
  • Name and address of reporting doctor

After 1916 the following information was added:

  • Names of parents
  • Birth place of parents
  • Date of burial
  • Name of informant
  • Employer

How to Use the Records

To begin your search, it will be helpful to know the following:

  • Name of the deceased
  • The place where the death occurred
  • The approximate death date

Search the Collection

To search the collection fill in the requested information in the boxes on the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the individuals in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to look at the information on several individuals comparing the information about them to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names, or variations of their name, throughout their life.
  • If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
  • Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the wiki article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

Using the Information

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example:

  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of death to find the family in census records.
  • Use the residence and names of the parents to locate church and land records.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names, or variations of their name, throughout their life.
  • If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
  • Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
  • Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment or military records.
  • The name of the undertaker or mortuary could lead you to funeral and cemetery records which often include the names and residences of other family members.
  • Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname as the deceased; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
  • Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have died in the same place or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • The information in the records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant.
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after 1900.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.

Unable to Find Your Ancestor?

  • Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.
  • One possibility why a person might not be found in the death records database is because there are missing certificates in this collection. The absent certificates are identified throughout the microfilm with a card stating the missing numbers. Since the actual certificates are absent from the microfilm they could not be indexed. Alternative indexes created by the Illinois State Archives could be helpful: 1916 and after www.ilsos.gov/isavital/idphdeathsrch.jsp or pre-1916 www.ilsos.gov/isavital/deathsrch.jsp. The pre-1916 index is a work in progress. Any certificate listed on these two sites can be ordered directly from Illinois Vital Records www.idph.state.il.us/vitalrecords/deathinfo.htm.
  • Contact the Cook County Clerk's Office www.cookcountyclerk.com/vitalrecords/deathcertificates/Pages/default.aspx.

General Information About These Records

Early records were kept in register books beginning in 1877. By the early 1900s most events were recorded on pre-printed forms.

Legislation in 1819 required physicians to record births and deaths for their practices. Then, the physicians transmitted the information to their medical society which published the information in the newspapers. In 1843, a law was passed where relatives of a deceased person could appear before the clerk of the county commissioner’s court and report information regarding the death. The recording of vital records was voluntary until 1877 so few births and deaths were recorded. A fire in 1871 destroyed the Cook County Courthouse and nearly all previous records housed there. The few existing originals that were created by the county clerk may be found in the county clerk’s office or in one of the Illinois Regional Archives Depositories (IRAD).

In 1877, the State Board of Health was created to supervise registration of births and deaths. All births and deaths were to be reported to the county clerk by physicians. However, many were still not registered because the penalties for non-compliance were weak. In 1915, the state of Illinois gave the responsibility of recording births and deaths to local registrars who reported the information to the county clerk and the State Board of Health (now known as the Illinois Department of Public Health). By 1919, it is estimated that 95% of the population was recorded in the vital records.

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Contributions to This Article

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Citations for This Collection

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information; that is, cite your sources. This will help people find the record again and evaluate the reliability of the source. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records. Citations are available for the collection as a whole and each record or image individually.

Collection Citation:

"Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1922, 1959-1994." Index. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Cook County Clerk. Cook County Courthouse, Chicago.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1922, 1959-1994.

 

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  • This page was last modified on 16 December 2014, at 18:11.
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