Illinois Mortality Schedules (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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This article describes a collection of records scheduled to become available at FamilySearch.org.
Illinois, United States
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Flag of Illinois
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Location of Illinois
Record Description
Record Type Mortality Records
Collection years 1850-1880
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites


What is in this Collection?

The collection consists of an index and images of mortality schedules from Illnois. Mortality schedules only include individuals who died in the year preceding the federal census.

Collection Content

Sample Images

Mortality schedules exist for the census year 1850, 1860, and 1880. Census enumerators requested information from the head of household about deaths that had occurred in the year prior to the census. In 1918 to 1919, the Bureau of the Census distributed the original schedules to states or to the National Library of the Daughters of the American Revolution when states were not interested. Mortality schedules list those deceased during the year prior to the census. This is a small percentage of the total population. At the time of the 1870 census, it was surmised that as many as one-third of all deaths were not reported. For instance, when a family was scattered by the death of the head of household, there was no one left to report it. In 1880 a supplemental report from attending physicians added 60,000 additional names to the schedules.

In the absence of vital registration in many states, mortality schedules provided nationwide death statistics for one year of each decade, 1850–1880. According to the official statistical report for 1870, this was done to assess the death rate for age-groups, sex, race, nationality, and occupation and to “deduc[e] the effect of the various conditions of life upon the duration of life.”

Census mortality schedules are usually accurate, but this accuracy depended on the knowledge of the informant and the care of the census enumerator.

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

Information in the records may vary by year but they usually contain the following:

  • Name, age, gender, and color of deceased
  • Free person or slave
  • Whether married or widowed
  • Birthplace (state, territory, or country)
  • Month in which death occurred
  • Occupation (profession or trade)
  • Cause of death
  • If parents were foreign born (1870 Census only)
  • Length of residence in the United States (1880 Census only)
  • Father’s and mother’s birthplace (1880 Census only)

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • The place of residence

Search by Name by visiting the Collection Page:
Fill in the requested information on the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the individuals in the list to what you already know about your own 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.

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select the "State" category
⇒Select the "County" category
⇒Select the "Township or other division of county" which takes you to the images.

Look at each image. Again you will need to compare the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor.

Be aware that with either search you may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.
  • If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
  • Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the wiki article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

What Do I Do Next?

When you have located your ancestor’s on the mortality schedule, carefully evaluate each piece of information about them. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors.

I Found Who I Was Looking for, What Now?

Mortality schedules are a national level file of state-by-state death registers. Using the death information, you can search for:

  • Obituaries, mortuary records, cemeteries, and probate records, all of which may provide additional genealogical information.
  • Mortality schedules also list ages and birthplaces for a time period when births were not reported
  • Use this information to look for other records that may provide information about the individual, parents, and siblings.

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For, Now What?

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • Look for an index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.
  • Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor.
  • There is also the possibility that the individual was missed in the mortality schedule.



Citing This Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.


Collection Citation:

"Illinois Mortality Schedules, 1850-1880." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing NARA publications T1133, T1164, T1156. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record will be available with each record once the collection is published.


Image Citation:

The image citation will be available once the collection is published.


How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.