Illinois, Cook County Marriage Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Collections This article describes a collection of records that is available for free online at FamilySearch.

  Access and search the records: Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871=1920 .

Collection Time Period

Cook County has recorded marriage records since 1871, the year of the Great Chicago Fire. A few miscellaneous records exist prior to July 1871.

Record Description

Early records were kept in register books beginning in 1877. By the early 1900s most events were recorded on pre-printed forms.

Record Content

Illinois_Cook_County_Marriage_Record.jpg/180px-Illinois_Cook_County_Marriage_Record.jpg" _fck_mw_filename="Illinois Cook County Marriage Record.jpg" _fck_mw_location="right" _fck_mw_type="thumb" alt="" class="fck_mw_frame fck_mw_right" /> Key genealogical facts found in most Illinois marriage records are:

  • Name of bride
  • Name of groom
  • Ages of both bride and groom
  • Towns of residence of both bride and groom
  • Date license was issued
  • Date marriage was performed
  • Name of person officiating at the marriage

After 1916 the following information was added:

  • Birth date of bride and groom
  • Full names of parents
  • Employer

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 marriage date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth of each partner 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.
  • Occupations listed can lead you to employment records or other types of records such as military records.
  • Use the parent’s birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
  • The name of the officiator may be a clue to their religion or area of residence in the county.
  • Use a marriage number to identify previous marriages.
  • Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have been born, married, or died 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.

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.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.

Remember, not finding your ancestor listed in this database doesn't necessarily mean the ancestor didn't marry in Cook County. Try these suggestions:

  • If you know their religion, search for the marriage in church records.
  • Look for town records of marriages.
  • Search family records such as a family bible.

Record History

Marriage returns were submitted to the county clerk by the minister or justice of the peace who performed the marriage. Most of these records were also destroyed by the fire in 1871. Only a few marriage records exist prior to the fire. Couples were not required to obtain a marriage license until 1877. A statewide register of marriages was started in 1962 as county clerks forwarded marriage information to the Illinois Department of Health.  A few marriage records have markers shaped like spades that indicates records with document numbering problems. When searching the collection displays a image with such markings, a second search might yield an unmarked marriage record with a new number without spades.

The Cook County Clerk's Office issues certified copies of Cook County marriage records for events that occurred in Cook County, Illinois.

Why This Collection Was Created?

Marriage records were created to legalize marital relationships and to safeguard the interests of the wife and other legal heirs.

Record Reliability

Information in these records is usually reliable but is upon reliability of the informant.

Related Web Sites

Cook County Genealogy Genealogy Online: Historical Cook County, Vital Records

Illinois Marriage Search llinois Statewide Marriage Index 1763-1900

This section of the article is incommplete. You can help FamilySearch Wiki by supplying links to related websites here.

Related Wiki Articles

"Illinois Vital Records" Illinois Vital Records

Contributions to This Article

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.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

When you copy information from a record, you, should also list where you found the information.  This wll 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:  How to Cite FamilySearch Collections 

Please add sample citations to this article following the format guidelines in the wiki article listed above.

Examples of Source Citations for a Record in This Collection:

"Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871-1920." index and images, FamilySearch ( accessed March 11, 2011). entry for George H. Carter and Sarah O'Brien, married 18 September 1878; citing Marriage Records, FHL microfilm 4,270,566.; Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records, Springfield, Illinois.

Sources of Information for This Collection:

“Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871-1920,” database, FamilySearch, 2010; from Illinois Department of Public Health. “Marriage Records, 1871 - 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