How to Find Illinois Birth Records

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Illinois gained statehood in 1818. Statewide registration of births began in 1916. General compliance followed in 1922.

Next Step: When did the birth occur? [edit | edit source]

Choose a time period to search for your ancestor's birth record:

Learn more about U.S. Birth Records

Births before 1877[edit | edit source]

Before 1877, only a few counties in Illinois recorded birth records. To see if your ancestor's birth was recorded in them, search Illinois, Births and Christenings, 1824-1940 at FamilySearch. (Free)

In the chart below, find the approximate year of birth for a person, and search the records listed.

Illinois Records with Birth Information
This chart covers the basics. Additions are welcome.
For people
born between
Use these records
Birth information provided
1750's-1770's Revolutionary War pensions, etc.
Learn more
  • Name
  • Birth date (month, day, year)
  • Birth place (town or county and state)
  • None of the men in these records would have been born in Illinois
  • Only men were soldiers, widows could apply
  • Many Revolutionary War pensioners moved to Illinois
1770's-1840's Censuses before 1850
Learn more
  • Name of head of the household
  • Number of males and females in age groups
  • Residence of the parents near the time of birth is clue to birthplace
  • Use other censuses, marriages, and additional records to learn more
1770's-1870 Censuses 1850-1870
Learn more
  • Name
  • Age
  • Birth place (state or nation)
  • Gender
  • Birth years calculated for a 70-year-old. Most were younger.
  • 1870 census indicates if born within the year
  • While relationships are not given, they are often implied by order of ages and birth places.
1780's to present Marriage records (started at county creation, 1812-on)
Learn more
  • Name
  • Age, "of age," or "minor" in early records
  • Birth date more common since 1880's
  • Place of birth in later records
  • Birth years were based on first time marriages of people between 16-30. People older than 30 would have been born even earlier.
  • Remember that people who married in the earliest years would NOT have been born in Illinois
1780's (few); 1820's-1850's (Civil War) Military Records 1812 and later
Learn more
  • Birth date and place (or only age)
  • Most soldiers were between 18-45 at time of service
  • Men only, widows could apply for pensions
1790's to present Church records
Learn more
  • Names of members
  • Baptism or christening date
  • Age at baptism
  • For children, names of parents
  • Churches vary greatly in the birth information they record
  • Some have no record of children until they reach baptismal age
1790's to present Cemeteries
Learn more
  • Name
  • Birth date or age
  • Married surname of a woman
  • Maiden surname common in later years
  • Most markers that still exist are from the 1850's and later
  • Weathering, floods, vandalism and other factors affect the readability of early tombstones
early 1800's to present Obituaries
Learn more
  • Name
  • Birth date (usually month, day, year)
  • Birth place (usually town or county and state or nation)
  • Names of parents
  • Mother's maiden surname (often)
  • These were popular since 1870's
  • Also includes names of living relatives (spouse, children, siblings)
1807-1916 and later Death records - County (started 1877)
Learn more
  • Name
  • Age at death or birth date
  • Place of birth (town or county and state)
  • Names of parents
  • Maiden surname of mother (sometimes)
  • A 70-year-old who died in 1877 was born about 1807. Most were younger than that.
  • Infants who lived even a few hours should be included.
  • Even in the early years, deaths were likely to be recorded. (Check cemeteries, obituaries, and others created around a person's death)
1810-1940 Censuses 1880-1940
Learn more
  • Name
  • Age; 1900 census gives month and year of birth
  • Birth place (state or nation).
  • Gender
  • Relationship to head of household
  • A 70-year-old would have been born in 1810. Most were younger.
  • Includes parent's place of birth (state or nation)
1846-present Death records - State (started 1916)
Learn more
  • Name
  • Exact birth date
  • Age at death
  • Place of birth (state or nation, often town or county)
  • Names of parents (usually maiden surname of mother)
  • A 70-year-old who died in 1916 was born about 1846. Most were younger.
  • Also gives informant's name and address (often a spouse, child, or other close relative)
  • Records within the last 50 years are not available to the public
1870's-present (some earlier) Newspapers
Learn more
  • Gender of child, sometimes name
  • Name of father
  • Name of mother (less often)
  • Their residence
  • Search for birth announcements and items from nearby communities
  • Newspapers started early in more populated areas
  • their residence, and gender of the child.
Return to top: Choose another birth year

Births between 1877 and 1916[edit | edit source]

In 1877, Illinois required all births be reported to the county clerk; however, many were not reported because compliance was not enforced. The statewide registration began in 1916 with full compliance by 1922.

STEP ONE: Find Birth Information[edit | edit source]

Try these databases.
Indexes Only.
Database Link or links to access database
FamilySearch, Illinois, Births and Christenings, 1824-1940 Free, index to birth, baptism and christening records. Microfilm copies of these records are available at the Family History Library and Family History Centers.
FamilySearch, Cook County, Birth Records Birth Registers, 1871-1915; Free, Birth Certificates, 1878-1922 Free
Ancestry, Cook County, Birth Index, 1816-1935 Free using Ancestryinstitution at FamilySearch Centers $, Use your own Ancestry subscription
Cook County Historical Society, Birth Certificates, 1871-1937 Free; but requires registration
Illinois State Archives, Carroll County, Birth Certificates, 1877-1913 Free
Illinois, Cook County, Birth Certificates, 1871-1940 Free, Index of Birth Certificates; Images on partner website
Can't find your ancestor in the online index? Tips for searching online indexes
No birth record for your ancestor? Other records with birth information

STEP TWO: Obtain the Certificate[edit | edit source]

There are three options:

  • - If the indexed information includes a GS microfilm number you can request the digital image using the Photoduplication request process.
  • Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) - many Illinois vital records are available at low or no cost via IRAD.  Check the IRAD Local Government Records Database to see if birth records are available for the county for that date range.  Select the county from the list and search for the word "Birth".  IRAD accepts requests by phone.
  • Individual County Clerks - If there is no GS microfilm number available and the records aren't available via IRAD, contact the county clerk where your ancestor was born and order a copy of the birth record. Some Illinois counties have digitized their records and made them available online for a fee.
Return to top: Choose another birth year

Births after 1916[edit | edit source]

The Vital Records office of the Illinois Department of Public Health has copies of births from 1916 to present day. Anything before 1916 must be obtained from the county clerk's office in the county where the birth occurred.

Obtain the Certificate[edit | edit source]

To Order Birth Certificates
County probate judge's offices Vital Records office of the Illinois Dept of Public Health
Pros Cons Pros Cons
May be less expensive and faster than ordering from the state County websites can be more difficult to use Has an expedited service on Vital Chek May be more expensive than ordering from the county

See restrictions below to find if you "qualify" to order a certificate. You must have full name, exact date and place of the birth to order from the Illinois State Department of Public Health. If you do not have the exact information, a search can be conducted for a fee. Contact the Vital Records Office for more information.

Restrictions to qualify for certificates of persons born within the last 75 years:
To obtain a copy of the certificate, you must be:

  • The person on the certificate
  • The parents shown on the certificate
  • A legal guardian or legal representative of the child. Written evidence of guardianship or legal representation is required.

If you do not want to order the birth record, there are other records with birth information you can search.

Return to top: Choose another birth year

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