Illinois, Cook County Deaths (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1922 .
- 1 Collection Time Period
- 2 Record Description
- 3 How to Use the Records
- 4 Record History
- 5 Related Web Sites
- 6 Related Wiki Articles
- 7 Contributions to This Article
- 8 Sources of Information for This Collection:
Collection Time Period
Cook County has recorded death records since 1871, the year of the Great Chicago Fire. A few miscellaneous records exist prior to July 1871.
Early records were kept in register books beginning in 1877. By the early 1900s most events were recorded on pre-printed forms
- Marital status
- Date and place of death
- Years resident in the state
- Cause of death and duration of illness
- Place of burial
- Name and address of reporting doctor
After 1916 the following information was added:
- Names of parents
- Birth place of parents
- Date of burial
- Name of informant
How to Use the Records
To begin your search, it will be helpful to know the following:
- The place where the marriage occurred.
- The approximate marriage date.
- The names of the bride and groom.
Input the information you have into the appropriate boxes on the search screen. This seach 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. For example:
- Use the birth date or age along with the place of death to find the family in census records.
- Use the residence and names of the parents to locate church and land records.
- Occupations listed can lead you to employment records or other types of records such as military records.
- 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 as the deceased, 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 who may have died in the same place 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.
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.
- There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.
If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for, try the following:
- Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
- Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
- Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.
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.
The Cook County Clerk's Office issues certified copies of Cook County death certificates for events that occurred in Cook County, Illinois.
Why This Collection Was Created?
Deaths were recorded to better serve public health needs. They were used in connection with the probate of wills and the administration of estates.
Information in these records is usually reliable but is upon reliability of the informant.
Related Web Sites
llinois Statewide Marriage Index 1763-1900
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Contributions to This Article
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Sources of Information for This Collection:
“Illinois, Cook County Deaths 1878-1922,” database, FamilySearch, 2010; from Illinois Department of Public Health. “Birth and Death Records, 1916 - present." Division of Vital Records, Springfield. FHL microfilm. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
The format for citing FamilySearch Historical Collections, including how to cite individual archives is found in the following link: How to Create Source Citations for FamilySearch Historical Records Collections