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Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents. United States Vital Records has additional research guidance on researching and using vital records. A copy or an extract of most original records can be purchased from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Public Records or the county clerk's office of the county where the event occurred.

Contents


Vital Records Reference Dates

Illinois' vital records start the following years:

Births Marriages Deaths
Earliest 1877* County Formation 1877*
Statewide Registration 1916 1962 1916
General Compliance 1922 1877 1919

* A few Illinois counties kept birth and death records before this date.

Searching Online Records

Most online resources for Illinois Vital Records are indexes. After locating a person in an index always consult the original record to confirm the information in the index.

  • The Global Database Search created by the Illinois State Archives allows all index databases on their website to be searched by name (free).
    • Click on a database from the list of results and enter the name again to search for the record in that database. The search field is at the bottom of the webpage.
    • The database is strong for birth, marriage and death information.

Birth Records

Birth Records reveal
Yes or Maybe
 Y  M
Name of Child Green check.png  
Birth Date and Place Green check.png  
Parent's Names Green check.png  
Mother's Maiden Name Green check.png  
Parent's Ages   Green check.png
Parents' State or Country of Birth Green check.png  

Online Birth Records

How to find early births

Birth Records Timeline

  • 1843 Legislation, a parent could report a birth to the county. However, very few births were recorded in only a few scattered counties.
  • 1877 The State Board of Health required all births be reported to the county clerk, although many were not reported because compliance was not enforced. [1]
  • 1916 Statewide registration of vital statistics began in 1916 and was generally complied with by 1922.
    • These usually give the name and sex of the child; the names, birthplaces, and ages of the parents (with the mother’s maiden name); the occupation of the father; and the number of children born to the mother.
    • Birth records of adopted children may give the birth parents but have frequently been amended to show only the adoptive parents.
    • 75-year restriction on obtaining birth records for deceased persons. Exception: immediate family members.
    • Request a special form from Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records.[2]

Delayed Birth Records

Delayed registrations of births were made when the individual applied, usually as an adult. An advantage is that they had to provide evidence to support the birth, which often included the testimony of a close relative or a church or Bible record.

The records can be located in the county where the birth occurred or the county of residence in the state when the individual applied for the delayed birth record. Some delayed birth records can also be found at Illinois Regional Archives Depository System (IRAD) depositories and the Family History Library (FHL).

Marriage Records

The county clerk usually kept marriage records from the time the county was organized. A few records date from the 1790s.


Several types of marriage records were kept, although sometimes only one type of marriage record was preserved or filmed:

  • Marriage registers before 1877 provide the date of marriage, names of the bride and groom, and the person who performed the marriage. Starting in 1877, pre-printed marriage register books in Illinois provided columns for ages, residences, birth places, and sometimes the names of the parents or guardians of the bride and groom.
  • Marriage returns were reported by the minister or Justice of the Peace who performed the marriage. County histories or city directories can be checked to learn which religion and congregation a minister served. Ministers’ returns may reveal that the marriage took place in a private residence, often the home of a parent or relative.
  • Marriage licenses or applications couples were not required to obtain a marriage license until 1877.

The counties continue to record marriages to the present day and only county clerks can issue certified copies of the marriage certificate.

A statewide register of marriages was started on 1 January 1962 as county clerks forwarded marriage information to the Illinois Department of Public Health. For a fee, the Division of Vital Records can search their statewide register and provide the marriage date and county for couples married after 1962.

Online Marriage collections

  • Statewide Marriage Index, 1763-1900 at Illinois State Archives. Index only. (Free)
    • sources include original county clerks' marriage records and publications of county genealogical societies and private individuals
    • index created by volunteer in their homes and by Archives staff
    • Provides groom, bride, date and county as well as information for contacting the county for a copy of the record.
    • ongoing effort; as of March 2012 90 of the 98 counties are complete, 4 not started
    • get copies of records from IRAD or county clerks
  • Illinois County Marriages, 1810-1934 at FamilySearch. Index and images. (Free)
    • About 48 of the 102 counties are in this collection. Click to see the coverage table.
    • largest of Family Search Illinois marriage collections (as of June 2014)
    • incomplete, on-going project, over 1 million entries as of May 2013
    • image copies may be requested from FamilySearch Photoduplication Services
  • Illinois, Marriages, 1815-1935 at FamilySearch. (Free)
    • index and some images included
    • does not index a specific set and is not complete for any particular place or region
    • based upon variety of data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah
  • Illinois Marriages to 1850 at Ancestry.com. Index only. (Free[3]/$)
    • electronic transcription of marriage records held by the individual counties in Illinois
  • Illinois Marriages, 1851-1900 at Ancestry.com. Index only. (Free[4]/$)
    • compile from county marriage records on microfilm located in the Family History Center in Salt Lake City, Utah
    • compiled by Jordan Dodd of Liahona Research, Orem, Utah
  • Illinois Marriages, 1790-1860 at Ancestry.com. Index only. (Free[5]/$)
    • with some noted exceptions source in microfilms of county marriage records at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah
    • FHL microfilm numbers con be accessed from each entry
    • indexed by Jordan Dodd of Liahona Research, Orem, Utah
  • Marriages to 1930 (Catholic) at FamilySearch, Diocese of Belleville Parish Registers. (Free)
    • brows-able images of parish registers plus a small number of other Church records
  • Cook County Marriage Licenses at Cook County . (Free index, $ for images)
    • marriages 50 years ago or before
    • not comprehensive, on-going project as of June 2014

Gretna Greens:

When an Illinois eloping couple's marriage is not in their home county, search for it in alternate places like Crown Point, IN, or South Bend, IN, or Evansville, IN, or Lee County, Iowa.[6] Also check counties that "neighbor" the home county.

To see a coverage map of FamilySearch's holdings of Illinois marriages, click here.

Death Records

Death records are available in the following:

  • Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH)
    • Orders can be made online, by mail, by fax, or in person.
    • Requirements include: decedent's full name, date of death, city and county where death occurred (if known), your relationship to the decedent, reasons for requesting record and a legible/readable copy of your valid photo identification card.
    • A genealogical copy is less expensive than a certified copy.
    • The "Tips" section at the bottom of their webpage mentions misspellings, incorrect data, erroneous entries, and that some 1936 deaths are listed as occurring in 1935.
  • Illinois State Archives Reference Room (ISA)
    • Records for deaths that occurred more than 50 years ago.
    • The following is required: decedent's name, date of death, name of county (and if provided, township of death), and death certificate number.

Online Death Records

  • Illinois Death Certificate Database, 1916-1950 at Illinois State Archives. Index only. (Free)
    • indexes death certificates filed with the Illinois Department of Public Health 1916-1950
    • Information about how to obtain copies of death certificates before 1916 and after 1915 is included.
    • Notice that the "Tips" section at the bottom of their webpage mentions misspellings, incorrect data, erroneous entries, and that some 1936 deaths are listed as occurring in 1935.
  • United States Social Security Death Index at FamilySearch. Index only. (Free)
    • Only deaths recorded by the Social Security Administration beginning 1962 are included, so many unrecorded deaths are not in this index.
    • several organizations have purchased this file and posted it to their web sites.
    • Name and birth date were provided by an informant and may be inaccurate; barring data entry error the other information is reliable.
Death Records reveal
Yes or Maybe
 Y  M
Name of Deceased Green check.png  
Death Date and Place Green check.png  
Age or Birth Date and Place Green check.png  
Parent's Names Green check.png  
Mother's Maiden Name Green check.png  
Name of Spouse   Green check.png
Residence Green check.png  
Occupation Green check.png  

Death Records Timeline

  • 1843 Legislation, members of a family could report a death to the county. However, very few deaths were recorded and only a few scattered counties have incomplete records.
  • 1877 The State Board of Health required all deaths to be reported to the county clerk, although many were not reported because compliance was not enforced.[8]
  • 1916 death records were mandated by the state with copies sent to the state capital. Compliance to this law reached 95% by 1919.[9]
    • These may give additional information, such as the city or town of birth, the informant (who may be a close relative), and the length of residence in the state or county.
    • Sometimes burial information, the cause of death, and the names of the physician and mortician are provided.

Divorce Records

In the early 1800s, the legislature, the circuit courts, and city courts granted divorces. Illinois divorce records may indicate the date and place the marriage was dissolved. Circuit or city courts have handled most divorce proceedings. The Superior Court of Cook County in Chicago also has jurisdiction over divorces.

The actual records before and after 1962 are available in the county where the divorce occurred. Contact the county clerk of the circuit court for certified copies of dissolution of marriage records. Click here for a list of the circuit court clerks. For a fee, the Division of Vital Records can verify the dissolution of marriages after 1961 if the husband's last name is known. Some divorce records are also available from the Illinois Regional Archives Depository System (IRAD) and the Family History Library.

Adoption Records

As of 11 November 2011, Illinois adoptees born before 1946 now have immediate access to their birth certificates. Those born after 1 Jan 1946 and who are twenty-one or older may file a request to see their birth certificates. Parents of children born after 1946 must file a form if they want to keep their names confidential. If no form is filed, it is assumed that the parents will allow their names to remain on the certificate. For more information, go to the Illinois Department of Public Health website.

In many cases, children were raised by relatives or interested families without a formal adoption taking place and no official adoption records being created.

For more information, see Adoption Research for additional resources and strategies.

Start with Vital Records

It is usually best to start a vital records search using one of the online links listed above. Original records were officially recorded in the county (except for those recorded in Chicago). Links to county pages appear in the box at the end of this article. Statewide vital records are available at the following locations:

Additional Helps

Tips

  • Information listed on vital records is given by an informant. Learn the relationship of the informant to the subject(s) of the record. The closer the relationship of the informant to the subject(s) and whether or not the informant was present at the time of the event can help determine the accuracy of the information found on the record.
  • If you are unable to locate vital records recorded by governments, search for church records of christening, marriage, death or burial. A family Bible may have been used to record births, marriages and deaths. Other substitute records.
  • Privacy laws may restrict your access to some vital records. Copies of some vital records recorded in the last 100 years may be unavailable to anyone except a direct relative.

Burned, Lost, or Missing Records

Fire.png

For a list of record loss in Illinois counties see the following:

Alternative Records

These links will take you to wiki pages describing alternate sources for birth, marriage and death records.

  • Church Records: Depending on the denomination, church records may contain information about birth, marriage and death.
  • Cemetery Records: Cemetery records are a rich source of birth and death information. These records may also reveal family relationships.
  • Census Records: Census records are a valuable source for birth and marriage information. You may also determine approximate time of death when the individual disappear from the census. This is a good place to begin a search.
  • Social Security Death Index (SSDI): The SSDI indexes deaths for those who had social security numbers and the death was reported to the Social Security Administration. Most records start in 1962.
  • Newspapers: Besides obituaries, local newspapers may contain birth and marriage announcements and death notices. Also check newspaper social columns for additional information.
  • Periodicals: Local genealogical and historical societies often publish periodicals which may contain abstracted early birth, marriage and death information.
  • Military Records: Military pension records can give birth, marriage and death information. In addition, soldiers' homes records can included this same information.
  • Probate Records: If no death record exists, probate records may be helpful in estimating when an individual has died. Probate records in the 20th Century often contain the exact death date.
  • History: Local histories, family histories and biographies can all be sources of birth, marriage and death information. Often this information is found in county-level records or in surname searches of the FamilySearch Catalog.

More Online Illinois Vital Records Links

A wiki article describing an online collection is found at:

Illinois County Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)

References

  1. http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/death.html
  2. http://www.idph.state.il.us/vitalrecords/genealogicalinfo.htm
  3. May be used for free at Family History Center. To locate a center near you, click here.
  4. May be used for free at Family History Center. To locate a center near you, click here.
  5. May be used for free at Family History Center. To locate a center near you, click here.
  6. Arlene H. Eakle, "Have you searched and searched for a marriage without finding it?" in Genealogy Blog at http://www.arleneeakle.com/wordpress/2007/02/19/have-you-searched-and-searched-for-the-marriage-without-finding-it/ accessed 8 January 2011).
  7. May be used for free at Family History Center. To locate a center near you, click here.
  8. [1]
  9. Schweitzer, George K, Illinois Genealogical Research (Knoxville, TN: George K. Schweitzer, 1997)

You can learn more about state and county vital records as well as the laws of Illinois affecting them in:


[Category:Illinois Vital Records]]

 

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  • This page was last modified on 17 December 2014, at 21:26.
  • This page has been accessed 119,338 times.