Illinois, Cook County Birth Registers (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: Illinois, Cook County Birth Registers, 1871-1915 .
This Collection will include records from 1871 to 1915.
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. The physicians then transmitted the information to their medical society, which published the information in the newspapers. In 1843, a law was passed allowing relatives of a deceased person to 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 the county clerk created 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 an estimated 95% of the population was recorded in the vital records.
The records are kept by register books, which usually comprised one to two years' worth of births arranged in chronologically order. However, some months may appear more than once in a given volume.
The Cook County Clerk's Office issues certified copies of Cook County birth certificates for events that occurred in Cook County, Illinois.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Records collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.
- County Clerk. Illinois, Cook County, Birth Registers. Cook County Courthouse, Chicago, Illinois.
Key genealogical facts found in most Illinois birth records are:
- Child’s name
- Child's birth date and place of birth
- Child's gender and race
- Child's order of birth
- Nationality and birth place of father
- Nationality and birth place of mother
- Full name and age of mother, including maiden name
- Full name and age of father and his occupation
- Name of medical attendants and and their 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
Input the information you have into the appropriate boxes on the search screen. This search 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.
- 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.
- 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 who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
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.
- Information can vary between one record to another.
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.
- If you know their religion, search for a church record of the birth.
Be aware that 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.
For a summary of this information, see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records)
Related Wiki Articles
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.
Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
"Illinois, Cook County Birth Registers, 1871-1915." database and digital images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org: accessed 11 March 2011). r Alden Kent Thomas, born 18 June 1867; citing Illinois. Birth Records, FHL microfilm 4,254,958: Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records, Springfield, Illinois.