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

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FamilySearch Collections This article describes a collection of records that is available for free online at FamilySearch.

  Access and search the records: Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871=1920 .
 

Contents

Collection Time Period

Cook County has recorded marriage records since 1871, the year of the Great Chicago Fire. A few miscellaneous records exist prior to July 1871.

Record Description

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

Record Content

Key genealogical facts found in most Illinois marriage records are:

Illinois Cook County Marriage Record.jpg
  • Name of bride
  • Name of groom
  • Ages of both bride and groom
  • Towns of residence of both bride and groom
  • Date license was issued
  • Date marriage was performed
  • Name of person officiating at the marriage

After 1916, the following information was added:

  • Birth date of bride and groom
  • Full names of parents
  • Employer

How to Use the Records

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

  • The approximate marriage date (year)
  • The name of the bride and/or 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.

For example:

  • Use the marriage date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth of each partner to find a couple's birth records and parents' names.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth 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.
  • Use the parent’s birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
  • The name of the officiator may be a clue to their religion or area of residence in the county.
  • Use a marriage number to identify previous marriages.
  • Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have been born, married, or died in the same county 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.

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.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.

Remember, not finding your ancestor listed in this database doesn't necessarily mean the ancestor didn't marry in Cook County.

Try these suggestions:

  • If you know their religion, search for the marriage in church records.
  • Look for town records of marriages.
  • Search family records such as a family bible.

Record History

Marriage returns were submitted to the county clerk by the minister or justice of the peace who performed the marriage. Most of these records were also destroyed by the fire in 1871. Only a few marriage records exist prior to the fire. Couples were not required to obtain a marriage license until 1877. A statewide register of marriages was started in 1962 as county clerks forwarded marriage information to the Illinois Department of Health.  A few marriage records have markers shaped like spades that indicates records with document numbering problems. When searching the collection displays a image with such markings, a second search might yield an unmarked marriage record with a new number without spades.

The Cook County Clerk's Office issues certified copies of Cook County marriage records for events that occurred in Cook County, Illinois.

Why the Record Was Created

Marriage records were created to legalize marital relationships and to safeguard the interests of the wife and other legal heirs.

Record Reliability

Information in these records is usually reliable but is upon reliability of the informant.

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.


For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Related Websites

Related Wiki Articles

Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. Guidelines are available to help you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide. If you would like to get more involved join the WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

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

Example of a Source Citation for a Record Found in This Collection

"Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871-1920." database, FamilySearch  (https://www.familysearch.org: accessed March 11, 2011). George H. Carter and Sarah O'Brien, married 18 September 1878; citing Illinois, Marriage Records, FHL microfilm 4,270,566.; Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records, Springfield, Illinois.

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the data and images published on FamilySearch.org Historical Records. It may include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.

“Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871-1920,” index, FamilySearch, 2010; from Illinois Department of Public Health. “Marriage Records, 1871 - present." Division of Vital Records, Springfield. FHL microfilm. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Information about creating source citations for FamilySearch Historical Collections is listed in the wiki article Help:How to Create Source Citations For FamilySearch Historical Records Collections.


 

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