Illinois, Cook County Birth Certificates (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Illinois, Cook County, Birth Certificates, 1871-1940
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Cook, Illinois, United States
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Flag of Illinois
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Location of Cook County, Illinois
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Location of Illinois
Record Description
Record Type Birth Index
Collection years 1871-1940
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites


What is in This Collection?

This collection consists of a name index to births for Chicago and Cook County, Illinois. It covers the years 1871 to 1940.

For copies of certificates for this time period please contact Cook County.

Image Visibility

Due to the provisions and guidelines of a revised contract with Cook County, FamilySearch has removed all images for Illinois, Cook County vital records from its historical records collections online; free indexes to the collections will remain. The images are available at Cook County Genealogy, a third party affiliate, for a fee. The images can be downloaded from the site.

Microfilm and microfiche from the Family History Library may be available at Family History Centers around the world. The film number is included in the source information found on the index of the record.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

The following information may be found in these records:

Birth

  • Child’s name
  • Child's birth date and place of birth
  • Child’s gender and race
  • Birth order of child
  • Nationality and birth place of father
  • Nationality and birth place of mother
  • Full name and age of mother, including her maiden name
  • Full name and age of father including his occupation
  • Name of medical attendants and address(es)

After 1916 the following information was added:

  • Birth date
  • Birth place
  • Full names of parents
  • Birth place of parents

Collection Content

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

Legislation in 1819 required physicians to record births and deaths for their practices. Then, the physicians transmitted the information to their medical society, which published the information in the newspapers. In 1843 a law was passed where relatives of a deceased person could appear before the clerk of the county commissioner’s court and report information regarding the death. The recording of vital records was voluntary until 1877 so few births and deaths were recorded. A fire in 1871 destroyed the Cook County Courthouse and nearly all previous records housed there. The few existing originals that were created by the county clerk may be found in the county clerk’s office or in one of the Illinois Regional Archives Depositories (IRAD).

In 1877, the State Board of Health was created to supervise registration of births and deaths. All births and deaths were to be reported to the county clerk by physicians. However, many were still not registered because the penalties for non-compliance were weak. In 1915 the state of Illinois gave the responsibility of recording births and deaths to local registrars, who reported the information to the county clerk and the State Board of Health (now known as the Illinois Department of Public Health). By 1919 it is estimated that 95% of the population was recorded in the vital records.

Generally, the records are arranged chronologically. However, some months may appear more than once in a given volume.

How Do I Search This Collection?

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • The approximate date of birth
  • The place where the birth occurred
  • The names of the child's parents

Search the Index

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
  2. Click Search to show possible matches


How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?

When you have located your ancestor’s birth 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.

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Search for other vital records, such as marriage and death
  • Use the information from the birth certificate to find the family in census records
  • Search the county for church, land, and probate

I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?

  • Check for variant spellings of the surnames
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties
  • If you know their religion, search for a church record of the birth
  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name
  • Your ancestor may have used different names, or variations of their name, throughout their life
  • If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names
  • Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned

Record Finder

Consult the Illinois Record Finder to search other records

Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation
"Illinois, Cook County, Birth Certificates, 1871-1940." Database. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 8 December 2017. Citing Cook County Clerk, Cook County Courthouse, Chicago.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record.

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How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

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Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.