Illinois, Cook County Birth Certificates (FamilySearch Historical Records)
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Illinois, Cook County Birth Certificates, 1871-1940 .
|This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.|
|Cook, Illinois, United States|
|Flag of Illinois|
|Location of Cook County, Illinois|
|Location of Illinois|
|Record Type||Birth Index|
- 1 What is in the Collection?
- 2 Collection Content
- 3 What Can this Collection Tell Me?
- 4 How Do I Search the Collection?
- 5 What Do I Do Next?
- 6 Citing this Collection
- 7 How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?
What is in the Collection?
This collection consists of a name index to births for Chicago and Cook County, Illinois. It covers the years 1871 to 1940.
For copies of certificates for this time period please contact Cook County.
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. However, some months may appear more than once in a given volume.
Due to the provisions and guidelines of a revised contract with Cook County, FamilySearch has removed all images for Illinois, Cook County vital records from its historical records collections online; free indexes to the collections will remain. The images are available at Cook County Genealogy, a third party affiliate, for a fee. The images can be downloaded from the site.
Microfilm and microfiche from the Family History Library are available via Online Film Ordering in most parts of the world. The film number is included in the source information found on the index of the record. https://www.familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Ordering_Microfilm_or_Microfiche
What Can this Collection Tell Me?
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 Do I Search the Collection?
To begin your search, it will be helpful to know:
- The name of your ancestor.
- The approximate date of birth.
- The place where the birth occurred.
- The names of the child's parents.
Search by Name by visiting the Collection Page:
Fill in the requested information in the boxes 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 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.
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.
|More images are available in the FamilySearch Catalog at Illinois, Cook County, birth certificates, 1878-1922. Some catalog records link to multiple references. In this case, click on a reference to find a camera icon to see images.|
What Do I Do Next?
When you have located your ancestor’s birth 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.
I Found Who I Was Looking for, What Now?
- 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.
- 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.
I Can't Find Who I'm Looking for, What Now?
- 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.
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.
- "Illinois, Cook County Birth Certificates, 1871-1940." Database. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing Cook County Clerk. Cook County Courthouse, Chicago.
Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):
How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?
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