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Illinois Cook County Birth Record.jpg

Finding Chicago Birth Records 1871-1922


  • Over 1,400,000 Cook County birth certificates have been indexed and digital images are available at familysearch.org.  These records include Chicago and they are downloadable, free of charge.  These images cover the years 1878-1922.
  • Birth registers from 1871-1915 have also been indexed and the digital images are also available at familysearch.org.
  • Chicago and Cook County birth records seventy-five years or older, back to late 1871, are available from the Cook County Clerk's Office. Birth records for some years can be purchased and downloaded at Genealogy Online: Historical Cook County, Illinois Vital Records($). Birth records for years not yet available on that website can be obtained by requesting a manual search (scroll to the very bottom of the page for information) from the clerk's office. It is important to remember, though, that many early Chicago and Cook County births weren't reported to the county and there may be no civil record available.
Original birth records are not available before late 1871 because the Chicago Fire (October 8) destroyed the county's vital records. Alternate sources of information include baptismal records, county histories, death certificates, delayed birth certificates, family records, pension records, school records, and Social Security applications.

Search tips

  • Sometimes the name of the child isn't recorded on the birth record--just the parent names. If you don't find a match searching a child's name, try searching by father and/or mother's name.
  • Many Chicago births went unreported. If you don't find a match in the index, there may not be a record to find.
  • There are a number of reasons why a name might not appear in the birth index.
  • The birth might not have been reported when the child was born. A January 1912 article in the Chicago Tribune, for example, suggests that as few as 50% of infants born might have actually been registered at that time. If the individual lived into the 1940s, consider checking the Chicago Delayed Birth Index.
  • The surname might be spelled in an unexpected way in the index. If you have a birth month and year (from the 1900 census, for example) and you think the surname might be spelled incorrectly in the index, try searching entries in the Chicago Birth Registers, 1871-1915. These pages can serve as an alternate index.


Other sources of birth information include:

  • Newspaper Notices (though very few, if any, births seem to have been mentioned in the Chicago papers)
  • Baptismal records
  • School records (check Chicago Board of Education proceedings)
  • World War I draft registration cards (available at Ancestry.com)
  • Later passenger lists for United States citizens returning from abroad (available at Ancestry.com)
  • Passport applications (available on FHL microfilm and at Ancestry.com)

Wiki articles describing online collectiona are found at:

Finding Chicago Birth Certificates 1923 Forward

To locate birth certificates 1923 forward, search the index at Cook County Genealogy Online. If you don't find a name there, you can mail in a request for a manual search to the Cook County Clerk's Office.

 

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