Illinois, Cook County Birth Registers (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Illinois, Cook County Birth Registers, 1871-1915
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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 Registers
Collection years 1871-1915
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites


What is in This Collection?

This collection includes an index to birth records from 1871 to 1915.

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. The physicians then transmitted the information to their medical society, which published the information in the newspapers. In 1843, a law was passed allowing relatives of a deceased person to 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 the county clerk created 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 an estimated 95% of the population was recorded in the vital records.

The records are kept by register books, which usually comprised one to two years' worth of births arranged in chronological order. However, some months may appear more than once in a given volume.

The Cook County Clerk's Office issues certified copies of Cook County birth certificates for events that occurred in Cook County, Illinois.

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.

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
  • Child's order of birth
  • Nationality and birth place of father
  • Nationality and birth place of mother
  • Full name and age of mother, including maiden name
  • Full name and age of father and his occupation
  • Name of medical attendants and and their address(es)

After 1916, the following information was added:

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

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 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?

  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find the family in census records
  • Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname as the parents. This is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual
  • Continue to search the records to identify siblings and other relatives who may have been born in Cook County. 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

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

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties
  • If you know their religion, search for a church record

Research Helps

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the state of Illinois.

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 Registers, 1871-1915." Database. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2016. 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?

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

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