Genealoger

Family History and Genealogy Services

Listed as one of the "50 Top Sites for Genealogy Research" by Internet Genealogy, Aug/Sept 2012

Illinois Genealogy Resources

Vital Records

To find a civil vital record, you will need at least the approximate year and place in which the birth, marriage, divorce, or death occurred. You may need to search other records first to find clues about these events, such as family Bibles, genealogies, local histories, biographies, cemetery records, censuses, court records, land records, citizenship applications, pension files, newspaper notices, and probate files. For the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries these sources must often be used as substitutes for civil vital records. These other records may not be as accurate, however, as the vital records kept by church authorities and civil governments.

Government officials in the Midwestern states began files of births and deaths as early as the 1860s in many counties. Statewide registration of births and deaths was initiated between 1880 and 1920. Officials began recording marriage dates as soon as each county was established and generally began statewide registration between 1880 and 1962.

Birth records generally give the child's name, sex, date and place of birth, and the names of the parents. Records of the twentieth century provide additional details, such as the name of the hospital, birthplace of parents, occupation of the parents, marital status of the mother, and the number of other children born to the mother. Most Illinois counties did not begin recording births until 1877. Birth records prior to 1916 were recorded only by County clerks. Beginning in 1916 county clerks and the Department of Public Health jointly maintained birth records. The Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) system holds birth records for many counties in Illinois. Researchers should contact the county clerk's office in the county where the birth occurred if IRAD does not have birth records for the particular county in questions.

Marriages were usually recorded by the clerk of the town or county where the bonds or licenses were issued (generally where the bride resided). You may find records that show a couple's intent to marry and records of the actual marriage. The State Archives is developing a database for all Illinois marriages prior to 1901. IRAD holds marriage records for many counties in Illinois. Researchers should contact the county clerk's office in the county where the marriage occurred if IRAD does not have the marriage records for the county in which the researcher is interested.

Death records are especially helpful because they may provide important information on a person's birth, spouse, and parents. Some researchers look first for death records because there are often death records for persons who have no birth or marriage records. Early death records, like cemetery records, generally give the name, date, and place of death. Twentieth-century certificates usually include the age or date of birth (and sometimes the place), race, length of residence in the county or state, cause of death, name of hospital and funeral home, burial information, and the informant's name (often a relative). They often provide the name of a spouse or parents. Since 1950, social security numbers are given on most death certificates. Birth and other information in a death record may not be accurate because the informant may not have had complete information. Death certificates may be filed in the state where an individual died and the state where he is buried. The State Archives has records of deaths recorded in special census schedules and death records maintained by the Illinois Department of Public Health, Office of Vital Records. IRAD has death records for many counties in Illinois, including those prior to 1916, for many counties.

The State Archives houses federal mortality schedules statewide for 1850, 1860, and 1880. The 1870 mortality schedule includes Kendall-Woodford counties only. The 1850, 1860 and 1870 schedules have been indexed. These schedules show only those deaths that occurred during the one year period prior to the the census enumeration.

Many Illinois counties did not begin recording deaths until 1877. Death records prior to 1916 were recorded only by county clerks. Beginning in 1916 county clerks and the Department of Public Health jointly maintained death records. IRAD holds death records for many counties in Illinois. Researchers should contact the county clerk's office in the county where the death occurred if IRAD does not have death records for that county.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has provided the State Archives with microfilm copies of Illinois death certificates for 1916-1947. Researchers wanting an unofficial and uncertified copy of a death certificate may visit the Illinois State Archives Reference Room to obtain a paper copy of the microfilm. An index to death certificates maintained by the Illinois Department of Public Health, 1916-1950, is available through the Archives.

A few county clerks kept vital records as early as 1838. Illinois law required the filing of vital records in 1877, but not all counties complied. In Illinois the statewide registration of vital statistics began in 1916 and was generally complied with by 1922.

Although the county coroner's office was established in 1818, permanent inquest records were not required until 1869.  The Illinois Regional Archives Depositories (IRAD) has coroner's records for several counties. The Illinois State Archives' Perrin collection contains St. Clair County inquests from 1819 through 1847 and a published transcription. An index of Cook County coroner's records is online (Cook County Coroner's Inquest Record Index, 1872–1911). Newspaper accounts and criminal court files also contain coroners' reports. Federal mortality census schedules for 1850-80 have been microfilmed and published.

For Birth, Death and Marriage Records:

For Divorce Records

Some print resources include:

  • Central Illinois chronicles / [edited by] Helen Cox Tregillis. Bowie, Md. : Heritage Books, c1998. 3 v. : maps ; 28 cm.
     
  • Guide to Public Vital Statistics Records in Illinois. Chicago: Illinois Historical Records Survey, 1941. Reprint, Thomson, Ill.: Heritage House, 1976.
     
  • Illinois. Department of Public Health. State Registrar. Illinois Births, Prior to Act, Excluding Chicago: 1842, 1849–1872. Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1995.
     
  • Illinois. Public Board of Health. Archives. Death Certificates for the State of Illinois, 1916–1945, Excluding Chicago, with the Exception of Stillbirths. Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1988–1992. The Illinois State Archives also has microfilm copies of the index and certificates.
     
  • Illinois. Department of Public Health. State Registrar. Illinois Death Certificates and Stillbirths, Including Chicago, 1946–1947. Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1995.
     
  • Jackson, Ronald Vern. Early Illinois / Ronald Vern Jackson, Altha Polson, Shirley P. Zachrison. Bountiful, Utah (1157 East 1850 South, Bountiful 84010) : Accelerated Indexing Systems, [1980- v. <1 > : ill. ; 29 cm.
     
  • Lovett, Lori, compiler. "St. Clair County Coroner's Papers, 1819-1847," St. Clair County Genealogical Society Quarterly 11, no. 3 (1988): 105-62.