Illinois, Cook County Deaths (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1922 .
This Collection will include records from 1878 to 1922.
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.
The Cook County Clerk's Office issues certified copies of Cook County death certificates for events that occurred in Cook County, Illinois.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Records collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.
- Cook County Clerk. Illinois, Cook County Deaths. Cook County Courthouse, Chicago, Illinois.
Key genealogical facts found in most Illinois death records prior to 1916 are:
- 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
How to Use the Records
To begin your search, it will be helpful to know the following:
- The place where the marriage occurred
- The approximate marriage date
- The names of the bride and groom
Input the information you have into the appropriate boxes on the search screen. This seach usually returns more than one result. Compare the information in the results to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
Keep in mind:
- 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.
If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for, try the following:
- 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.
Known Issues with This Collection
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Contributions to This Article
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. 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.
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
"Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1922." database and digital images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch,org: accessed 11 March 2011). Mary Thompson, died 17 September 1885; Citing Illinois, Death Records, FHL microfilm 1,030,911; llinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records, Springfield, Illinois.