Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947 .
This article describes a collection of records at
Illinois, United States
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Flag of Illinois
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Location of Illinois
Record Description
Record Type Deaths and Stillbirths
Collection years 1916-1947
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites

What is in the Collection?

The record consists of one-page pre-printed death certificate forms filled in by hand or typed. Deaths were not generally recorded at the county level until 1877, although the practice was not universal before 1916. Some records existed in cities prior to 1877. A 1915 statute provided for the first effective system of registration of deaths and stillbirths in Illinois. It required the State Board of Health and county clerks to record these events. In 1919 the Illinois Department of Public Health was established as the successor agency to the State Board of Health. Deaths that were recorded prior to 1 January 1916 can be found at the county clerk’s office. Death records beginning 1916, with a statewide index from 1916 to the present, are available from the Illinois Department of Health, Division of Vital Records. 

Collection Content

This Collection will include records from 1916 to 1947. As of June 2014 it is still an index only, with no images.

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

Illinois death certificates may contain:

  • County and city in which death took place
  • Address where death occurred
  • Sometimes the voting ward of that place
  • Deceased’s full name
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Birth date
  • Age at death
  • Date of death
  • Occupation
  • Employer
  • City and state of birthplace
  • Name of the informant providing the above information
  • Filing date
  • Name of the registrar

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:

  • The place where the death occurred
  • The name of the person at the time of death
  • The approximate death date

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 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 on-line article [FamilySearch Tips and Tricks].

What Do I Do Next?

When you have located your ancestor’s death 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 death date or age to calculate an approximate birth year.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find or verify their 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 (if the deceased is a child) to locate church and land records.
  • Use the parents’ birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
  • Occupations listed can lead you to employment records or other types of records such as military records.
  • The name of the officiator is a clue to their religion or area of residence in the county.
  • 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; 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 of the deceased who may have died or been buried 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.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • Information pertaining to death is usually reliable. This includes the cause of death, name of the attending physician or attending medical professional, name and address of the funeral home used, and the exact date and place of burial. Other information is dependent upon the reliability of the informant, often a family member.
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1800s.
  • 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?

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
  • 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.

For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary.

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 Death and Stillbirths, 1916-1947." Database. FamilySearch. : accessed 2016. Public Board of Health Archives, Springfield.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947.

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.