Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947 .
This Collection will include records from 1916 to 1947.
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.
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.
- "Illinois, Death and Stillbirths, 1916-1947." Index or Index and Images or Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Public Board of Health Archives, Springfield.
Important genealogical information that 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
- Marital status
- Birth date
- Age at death
- Date of death
- City and state of birthplace
- Name of the informant providing the above information
- Filing date
- Name of the registrar
How to Use the Records
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
Compare the information in the death record to what you already know about your ancestor 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 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.
- 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.
- Occupations listed can lead you to employment records or other types of records such as military records.
- Use the parents’ birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
- 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.
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.
Keep in mind:
- The information in these 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 the late 1800s.
- There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.
For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary.
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.
Follow this link to the Illinois State Archives for information on obtaining death records.
Related Wiki Articles
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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.