Difference between revisions of "Illinois Vital Records"

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''[[United States|[[Image:Oldcap.jpg|thumb|left]]United States&nbsp;]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] &nbsp;[[Illinois|Illinois&nbsp;]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] &nbsp;[[Illinois Vital Records|Vital Records]]'' {{Adoption ISGS}}<br>  
''[[United States|[[Image:Oldcap.jpg|thumb|left]]United States&nbsp;]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] &nbsp;[[Illinois|Illinois&nbsp;]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] &nbsp;[[Illinois_Vital_Records|Vital Records]]'' {{Adoption ISGS}}<br>  
== Introduction to Vital Records  ==
== Introduction to Vital Records  ==
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:*[http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2086 ''Illinois Marriages to 1850''] at [http://www.ancestry.com/ Ancestry] - ($)  
:*[http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2086 ''Illinois Marriages to 1850''] at [http://www.ancestry.com/ Ancestry] - ($)  
:*[http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7851 ''Illinois Marriages, 1790–1860''] at [http://www.ancestry.com/ Ancestry] - ($)  
:*[http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7851 ''Illinois Marriages, 1790–1860''] at [http://www.ancestry.com/ Ancestry] - ($)  
:*[http://search.ancestryinstitution.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7857 ''Illinois Marriages, 1851–1900''] at [http://www.ancestry.com/ Ancestry] - ($)
:*[http://search.ancestryinstitution.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7857 ''Illinois Marriages, 1851–1900''] at [http://www.ancestry.com/ Ancestry] - ($)  
:*[[Illinois_County_Marriage_Records_(FamilySearch_Historical_Records)|Illinois County Marriage Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)]]
== Death Records  ==
== Death Records  ==

Revision as of 15:41, 23 September 2011

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Introduction to Vital Records

Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents. United States Vital Records has additional research guidance on researching and using vital records. A copy or an extract of most original records can be purchased from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Public Records or the county clerk's office of the county where the event occurred.

Vital Records Collage.JPG

Vital Records Reference Dates

Illinois' vital records start the following years:

Births Marriages Deaths
Earliest 1877* County Formation 1877*
Statewide Registration 1916 1962 1916
General Compliance 1922 1877 1919

* A few Illinois counties kept birth and death records before this date.

Illinois Birth, Marriage and Death Records Online

The following is a list of online resources useful for locating Illinois Vital Records which consist of births, marriages, divorces, and deaths. Most online resources for Illinois Vital Records are indexes. After locating a person in an index always consult the original record to confirm the information in the index.

Illinois State Archives Global Search:

  • The Global Database Search created by the Illinois State Archives allows all index databases on their website to be searched by name (free). You must click on a database from the list of results and enter the name again to search for the record in that database. The search field is at the bottom of the webpage.



Researching Illinois Vital Records

It is usually best to start a vital records search using one of the online links listed above. Original records were officially recorded in the county (except for those recorded in Chicago). Links to county pages appear in the box at the end of this article. Statewide vital records are available at the following locations:

Birth Records

Because of legislation passed in 1843, a parent could report a birth to the county. However, very few births were recorded in only a few scattered counties. In 1877, the State Board of Health required all births be reported to the county clerk, although many were not reported because compliance was not enforced.[1] In Illinois, the statewide registration of vital statistics began in 1916 and was generally complied with by 1922.

After 1916, birth records usually give the name and sex of the child; the names, birthplaces, and ages of the parents (with the mother’s maiden name); the occupation of the father; and the number of children born to the mother. Birth records of adopted children may give the birth parents but have frequently been amended to show only the adoptive parents.

There is a 75 year restriction on obtaining birth records for those not entitled to obtaining a birth certificate. For births after 1916, a copy of the birth certificate can be obtained if the individual is deceased. You must request a special form from Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records.[2]

Delayed Birth Records

Delayed registrations of births can be located in the county where the birth occurred or the county of residence in the state when the individual applied for the delayed birth record. Some delayed birth records can also be found at Illinois Regional Archives Depository System (IRAD) depositories and the Family History Library (FHL).

Marriage Records

Several types of marriage records were kept, such as marriage registers, marriage returns, and marriage applications. Sometimes only one type of marriage record was preserved or filmed.

The marriage registers before 1877 provide the date of marriage, names of the bride and groom, and the person who performed the marriage. Starting in 1877, pre-printed marriage register books in Illinois provided columns for ages, residences, birth places, and sometimes the names of the parents or guardians of the bride and groom.

Marriage returns were reported by the minister or Justice of the Peace who performed the marriage. County histories or city directories can be checked to learn which religion and congregation a minister served. Ministers’ returns may reveal that the marriage took place in a private residence, often the home of a parent or relative.

The county clerk usually kept marriage records from the time the county was organized. A few records date from the 1790s, but couples were not required to obtain a marriage license until 1877.

The counties continue to record marriages to the present day and only county clerks can issue certified copies of the marriage certificate. A statewide register of marriages was started on 1 January 1962 as county clerks forwarded marriage information to the Illinois Department of Public Health. For a fee, the Division of Vital Records can search their statewide register and provide the marriage date and county for couples married after 1962.

Gretna Greens:

When an Illinois eloping couple's marriage is not in their home county, search for it in alternate places like Crown Point, IN, or South Bend, IN, or Evansville, IN, or Lee County, Iowa.[3]

Online Illinois Marriage Indexes and Records

Death Records

Because of legislation passed in 1843, members of a family could report a death to the county. However, very few deaths were recorded and only a few scattered counties have incomplete records. A new law was passed in 1877 requiring all deaths to be reported to the county clerk, although many were not reported because compliance was not enforced.[4] In 1916, death records were mandated by the state with copies sent to the state capital. Compliance to this law reached 95% by 1919.[5]

After 1916, death records usually give information about the deceased, such as name, age, birth date, state or country of birth (sometimes the city or town), names of the parents (frequently including the maiden name of the mother), and the informant (who may be a close relative). The date and place of death are given. Sometimes burial information, the cause of death, and the names of the physician and mortician are provided. The length of residence in the state or county may also be given.

Death records are available in the following:

  • Contact the county clerk in the county the death occurred. Addresses of Illinois county clerks.
  • Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH)Orders can be made online, by mail, by fax, or in person. Requirements for ordering from the IDPH include: decedent's full name, date of death, city and county where death occurred (if known), your relationship to the decedent, reasons for requesting record and a legible/readable copy of your valid photo identification card. A genealogical copy is less expensive than a certified copy. Notice that the "Tips" section at the bottom of their webpage mentions misspellings, incorrect data, erroneous entries, and that some 1936 deaths are listed as occurring in 1935.
  • Illinois State Genealogical Society. Only 1916 to 1947 are currently available. Order online.
  • Illinois State Archives Reference Room (ISA) has death records for deaths that occurred more than 50 years ago. Earlier deaths are not available at the ISA. The following is required: decedent's name, date of death, name of county (and if provided, township of death), and death certificate number.
  • Illinois State Genealogical Society. Only 1916 to 1947 are currently available. Order online.

Online Illinois Death Indexes and Records

Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce) Records

In the early 1800s, the legislature, the circuit courts, and city courts granted divorces. Illinois divorce records may indicate the date and place the marriage was dissolved. Circuit or city courts have handled most divorce proceedings. The Superior Court of Cook County in Chicago also has jurisdiction over divorces.

The actual records before and after 1962 are available in the county where the divorce occurred. Contact the county clerk of the circuit court for certified copies of dissolution of marriage records. Click here for a list of the circuit court clerks. For a fee, the Division of Vital Records can verify the dissolution of marriages after 1961 if the husband's last name is known. Some divorce records are also available from the Illinois Regional Archives Depository System (IRAD) and the Family History Library.

Adoption Records

In many cases, children were raised by relatives or interested families without a formal adoption taking place. Adoption records are often sealed by court order–making research in adoption records challenging. In most cases, you will need to know the county in which a formal adoption took place. Contact that county courthouse to determine which office holds the records for that county. The Illinois Department of Public Health manages the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange (IARMIE) program which allows parties directly involved in adoptions to authorize or prohibit the release of identifying and medical information. See Adoption Research for additional resources and strategies.

Additional Helps


  • Information listed on vital records is given by an informant. Learn the relationship of the informant to the subject(s) of the record. The closer the relationship of the informant to the subject(s) and whether or not the informant was present at the time of the event can help determine the accuracy of the information found on the record.
  • If you are unable to locate vital records recorded by governments, search for church records of christening, marriage, death or burial. A family Bible may have been used to record births, marriages and deaths. Other substitute records.
  • Privacy laws may restrict your access to some vital records. Copies of some vital records recorded in the last 100 years may be unavailable to anyone except a direct relative.

Burned, Lost, or Missing Records

For a list of record loss in Illinois counties see the following:

Alternative Records

These links will take you to wiki pages describing alternate sources for birth, marriage and death records.

  • Church Records: Depending on the denomination, church records may contain information about birth, marriage and death.
  • Cemetery Records: Cemetery records are a rich source of birth and death information. These records may also reveal family relationships.
  • Census Records: Census records are a valuable source for birth and marriage information. You may also determine approximate time of death when the individual disappear from the census. This is a good place to begin a search.
  • Social Security Death Index (SSDI): The SSDI indexes deaths for those who had social security numbers and the death was reported to the Social Security Administration. Most records start in 1962.
  • Newspapers: Besides obituaries, local newspapers may contain birth and marriage announcements and death notices. Also check newspaper social columns for additional information.
  • Periodicals: Local genealogical and historical societies often publish periodicals which may contain abstracted early birth, marriage and death information.
  • Military Records: Military pension records can give birth, marriage and death information. In addition, soldiers' homes records can included this same information.
  • Probate Records: If no death record exists, probate records may be helpful in estimating when an individual has died. Probate records in the 20th Century often contain the exact death date.
  • History: Local histories, family histories and biographies can all be sources of birth, marriage and death information. Often this information is found in county-level records or in surname searches of the Family History Library catalog.

More Online Illinois Vital Records Links


  1. http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/death.html
  2. http://www.idph.state.il.us/vitalrecords/genealogicalinfo.htm
  3. Arlene H. Eakle, "Have you searched and searched for a marriage without finding it?" in Genealogy Blog at http://www.arleneeakle.com/wordpress/2007/02/19/have-you-searched-and-searched-for-the-marriage-without-finding-it/ accessed 8 January 2011).
  4. http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/death.html
  5. Schweitzer, George K, Illinois Genealogical Research (Knoxville, TN: George K. Schweitzer, 1997)

You can learn more about state and county vital records as well as the laws of Illinois affecting them in: