Finding Birth-Marriage-Death Records in Cook Co., Illinois

Illinois StateLocating vital records (birth, marriage and death) are essential for all family researchers.  These are the primary sources to determine who, what and where an ancestor’s life existed. With more local and state governmental agencies realizing the importance of making these records available on the Internet, the Cook County Clerk’s Bureau of Vital Records have placed such records online for genealogical research without having to send regular postal mail or visit in person. The city of Chicago is part of Cook County, so this database, Cook County Genealogy can prove to be essential to any researcher seeking ancestors from this area.

To look at the present numbers, there are nearly 1.3 million birth certificates, 1.02 marriage licenses and 2.5 million death certificates, some backing back to 1872 available for Cook County. Historically, birth and death records were not mandatory filed with the county clerk until January 1, 1916, so not all records prior to 1916 are present. Records prior to 1872 with Cook County were destroyed in the great Chicago Fire of October 1871.

Not all records in more recent times are placed digitally and in the database.  For birth certificates, which have child’s name, parents and address, they have to be older than 75 years, going back to 1936 or older. With marriage certificates, bride and groom names, date and place of wedding, address and who married them, those records have to be older than 50 years, going back to 1961 or older.  Then, for death certificates, the decedent’s name, birth, place of birth, parent information, marital status, address, occupation, place of death, cause of death and burial information, the records have to be older than 20 years, going back to 1991 or older.

To begin searching, the site asks you to create a free account just providing an email address and a password.  Go to the ‘Search Genealogy Records’ tab to begin a free search. Place at least a surname, a date with a range of years and which type of record or records (BMD). Up will come none, one or more matching names. If a marriage record, then the spouse’s name is also shown, along with the date of the event and a file number.

Clicking on any one of the names listed will place in a ‘shopping cart‘.  You can have additional names to the list. You can review which ones for sure you want copies of and remove those you don’t need. The charge to download each original scanned image is $15.00 (USD) per record, charged to a credit card. You will be able to then immediately download the images and even do so over the next 30 days.

This is a time-saving method to help add vital records for your family history research.

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