Illinois, Cook County Birth Certificates (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 Birth Certificates, 1878-1922 .
This collection consists of a name index to births for Chicago and Cook County, Illinois. It covers the years 1878 to 1922.
For copies of the certificate for this time period please contact Cook County.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.
- Cook County Clerk. Illinois, Cook County Birth Certificates. Cook County Courthouse, Chicago, Illinois.
The following information is found in most Illinois birth records:
- Child’s name
- Child's birth date and place of birth
- Child’s gender and race
- Birth order of child
- Nationality and birth place of father
- Nationality and birth place of mother
- Full name and age of mother, including her maiden name
- Full name and age of father including his occupation
- Name of medical attendants and address(es)
After 1916 the following information was added:
- Birth date
- Birth place
- Full names of parents
- Birth place of parents
How to Use the Records
To begin your search, it will be helpful to know the following:
- The birth place
- The approximate birth date
- The child's name
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors 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 compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.
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 birth of each parent 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.
- Use the parent’s birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- Not all births are found in both the registers and the certificates so you may need to search both collections to find your ancestor's birth record.
- Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname as the parents. This is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
- Continue to search the records to identify siblings and other relatives who may have been born in Cook County; 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 with a common last 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.
- Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.
- If you know their religion, search for a church record of the birth.
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.
Generally, the records are arranged chronologically arranged. However, some months may appear more than once in a given volume.
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.
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