Cook County, Illinois Genealogy

From FamilySearch Wiki
Revision as of 13:27, 12 August 2010 by Riratodd (talk | contribs)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

United States > Illinois > Cook County

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Cook County, Illinois

Cook County, Illinois was named for Kentucky-born Daniel Pope Cook, one of the earliest and youngest statesmen in Illinois history. When the county was formed in 1831, it's total population was about one hundred people, spread over 2,464 square miles. Parts of Cook County were subsequently carved off to form Lake, DuPage, Will, and McHenry counties, trimming the county to its current size of 946 square miles.[1] As of 2005, Cook County was the second most populous county in the United States (after Los Angeles), with a population of 5.3 million.[2] Just over half the county's population reside in Chicago, the county seat.[3]

Courts[edit | edit source]

Clerk of Cook County[edit | edit source]

Birth, marriage, and death records are available through the Clerk of County Court. Records date to 1872. Approximately 75% of the county's eight million records are searchable and available for digital download from the county's Genealogy Online web site.

69 W. Washington St. 5th Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60602
(312) 603-5656

Hours: M-F: 8.30AM-5PM; Sat:9AM-12

Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County[edit | edit source]

Richard J. Daley Center
Room 1001
50 W. Washington
Chicago, IL 6060
(312) 603-5030

Archives Department[edit | edit source]

Contact: Phil Costello
50 West Washington
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 603-6601
(312) 603-4974 fax

Microfilmed copies of the index books are located in Room 1113. Most of the older court files are held in an off-site, suburban warehouse. Records are generally retrieved once a week, on Wednesday. Requests made early in the week make the Wednesday run. Records retrieved on Wednesday are usually available for viewing on Friday.

Chancery Division[edit | edit source]

Richard J. Daley Center
Room 802
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 603-5133

Hours: M-F: 8AM-5PM; Sun-Sat: 10AM-5PM

Probate Division[edit | edit source]

Richard J. Daley Center
Room 1202
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 603-6441

Hours: M-F: 8AM-5PM; Sun-Sat: 10AM-5PM

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

15 January 1831: Cook County was created from Putnam County by an act of the Illinois State Legislature as the 54th county established in Illinois. The unincorporated Fort Dearborn settlement at the mouth of the Chicago River became the new county's seat.

12 January 1836: Will County formed from portions of Cook, Iriquois, and Unorganized Territory.

16 January 1836: McHenry County formed from north-western section of Cook county.

9 February 1839: DuPage County formed.

1 March 1839: Lake County formed from northern-most section of Cook county.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

8-10 October 1871: Original marriage licenses for Cook County were destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire. Marriages from 1833-1871 found in the Illinois Statewide Marriage Index for Cook County are compiled from early Chicago newspapers. This compilation is known as the Sam Fink Index. A copy of the Sam Fink Index is available on microfilm at the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. The only additional information that this depository can provide is the name of the newspaper in which the marriage appeared. FHLC #1321939 A microfilmed copy of the Index to Chicago and Cook County Marriages and Deaths Reported in Chicago Newspapers 1834–1889 compiled by Sam Fink is also available at the Newberry Library (microfilm 608, general collections 2nd, floor.)

Places / Localities[edit | edit source]

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

Chicago, New Trier, Arlington Heights, Elmhurst, Berwyn Township, Schaumburg Township, more...

Neighboring Counties[edit | edit source]

DuPage | Kane | Lake | McHenry | Will | Lake County, Indiana

Resource[edit | edit source]

African American[edit | edit source]

The following have information concerning African American research.

Archives[edit | edit source]

Illinois Regional Archives Depository
Ronald Williams Library
Northeastern Illinois University
500 North St. Louis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625-4699
(773) 442-4506 Hours: Monday–Friday; 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
The depository is closed on all state holidays and any day that the university library is closed. It is always a good idea to call ahead before planning a visit.

Cook County Coroner's Inquest Record Index 1872–1911

Office of the Medical Examiner
County of Cook
2121 West. Harrison
Chicago, IL 60612

Cook County Coroner's Inquest records dating after November 1911 are maintained by the Cook County Office of the Medical Examiner.

The National Archives and Records Administration-Great Lakes Region
7358 South Pulaski Road
Chicago, IL 60629-5898
(773) 948-9001
(773) 948-9050 fax

Records created or received by Federal agencies in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and Federal courts in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Hours: Monday–Friday 8:00 a.m.–4:15 p.m.
Second Saturday of the month 8:00 a.m.–4:15 p.m.
Closed Sundays and Federal holidays

Naturalization Records: from U.S. District Courts (RG 21) in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin

Archival Holdings Guide

Illinois and Michigan Canal and Regional History Special Collection Lewis University
One University Parkway
Romeoville, IL 60446-2200
[actually in Will County; but collection includes records that pertain to Cook County]

(800) 897-9000 Hours: Monday–Thursday 2:00–4:00 p.m.

Call 815-838-0500 extension 5529 before visiting

Biographies[edit | edit source]

The Chicago History Museum has a tremendous collection of on-line resources including the Biographical Dictionary of Chicago, part of the Encyclopedia of Chicago, and a photo index of portraits taken by early Chicago photographers. The Museum's collection includes tens of thousands of images from early photographers E.L. Brand and C.D. Mosher, among others, all indexed by the name of the person in the photograph, as well as by photographer and studio. Their collection can be searched at the Chicago History Museum Research Center.

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Burr Oak Cemetery[edit | edit source]

4400 W. 127th Street
Alsip, IL 60803
(773) 233-5676

Searchable burials database provides burial information, a map of the cemetery, and a photo of the headstone, if available. The cemetery filed for bankruptcy in 2009 following allegations of grave tampering and the re-selling of graves that resulted in numerous lawsuits. The Cook County Sheriff's Office maintains a web site with Burr Oak Cemetery Information, more than 50,000 headstone photos, and other cemetery information.

Chicago City Cemetery[edit | edit source]

Hidden Truths: The Chicago City Cemetery and Lincoln Park;

Online database

Cemetery lot owners

Online map

Graceland Cemetery[edit | edit source]

4001 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60613-1992
(773) 525-1105
(773) 525-9091 fax

Graceland Cemetery was established in 1860 by Thomas Bryan, a prominent Chicago lawyer and is owned and operated by the Trustees of the Graceland Cemetery Improvement Fund, a not-for-profit trust. The cemetery's web site includes Graceof prominent Chicagoans buried there. Genealogy Inquiries can be made by maill, fax, or e-mail.

Census[edit | edit source]

Ward and ED Maps for 1870-1930 Censusesf

Church[edit | edit source]

Archives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America[edit | edit source]

321 Bonnie Lane
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
(847) 690-9410

Hours: Monday–Friday 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Appointments in advance of visits are advised.

Archives Catalog: online

Genealogy: Research Request

Lutheran Churches of Chicago: A Genealogical Guide

Map of Chicago congregations at

The Archdiocese of Chicago's Archives[edit | edit source]

Records Center

Site gives information on the following types of genealogical materials and information on contacting them:

  • Sacramental Records
  • Orphanage Records
  • School Records
  • Deceased Priest Files (Restricted Collection)
  • Western Tablet, The New Word and the Chicago Catholic
  • Parish Commemorative Books
  • Other Collections and Records
Baptist Churches[edit | edit source]

American Baptist-Samuel Colgate Historical Library

3001 Mercer University Drive
Atlanta, GA 30341
(678) 547-6680

Chicago Baptist Association

orignal records; no date

Chicago Baptist City Mission Society

original records 1889--1943

Auburn Park Baptist Church

original records; 1891--1903

Baptist Forward Movement for Missionary Education

original records 1918--1919

Highland Park Baptist Church

original records; 1917

Immanuel Baptist Church

23rd Street South Michigan Avenue

original records; 1881--1948

LaSalle Avenue Baptist Church

original records; 1868--1919

German Church Records[edit | edit source]

Land[edit | edit source]

Property research in Cook County is challenging and very time consuming. It is the reason one generally needs to exhaust every other type of record for Cook County before tackling the land research. The pre-1985 documents are available only at the Cook County Recorder of Deeds office.

118 North Clark Street
Room 120
Chicago, Illinois 60602
(312) 603-5050
(312) 603-5063 fax

Hours, Monday through Friday: 8:00 a.m.--5:00 p.m.

Township and Sectional Map of Cook County

To do land research in Cook County, one needs to have the legal description of the property. It is possible to obtain a legal description if one has the "modern" address of the property. Link to the Legal Description Search Request page at the Cook County Recorder of Deeds' Website.

In Cook County there are two (2) types of conveyance (indexes) systems. One is a “regular” system that uses a geographic index instead of Grantor-Grantee indexes. The other is a Torrens or Registry System. Used for only a portion of properties in Cook County, those that had a clouded-title situation. It was a means of registering title to land with a financial guaranteed by a government unit that the title was “good”. A court action established the title and every subsequent transaction for the property had to be registered. Transactions for Torrens properties are either written in red in the tract books or there is a “T” after the grantee’s name. The Torrens systems was phased out a number of years ago.

With a legal description in hand, one needs to locate the property in the specific tract book. There are 1000+ tract books for Cook County. The tract books are ledgers. Each transaction for a particular parcel of land is recorded chronologically in the books.

Identifying the records in the tract books is the first step. The numbers recorded in the tract books are transaction numbers. To locate the deed one needs to find the transaction number in the deed books, another set of indexes. There is another set of numbers in the deed books (paging books). These are the numbers for the volume or book, the page, and the item of the recorded instrument (deed). One then orders the microfiche for the document.

It is very expensive to make copies of property records in Cook County. The first two (2) pages of each document are $10.00 and then $1.00 for each additional page.

Pre-Fire land records are privately held by a title-guaranty company. One must make an appointment to view the records. These too are organized by legal description.

Another “quirk” to be aware of is out-of-county property recordings.

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Maps[edit | edit source]

Military[edit | edit source]

Naturalization[edit | edit source]

Cook County Clerk of Circuit Court has posted an index to their Natualization Declaration of Intentions. If you find the record in the index, you can order these records for a small cost. They also hold the petitions and naturalization certificates for the Superior Court. An index to the petitions and naturalization certificates from the Superior Court may be found in the Family History Library Catalog, film numbers 1,023,967-1,023,968.

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Daily Herald story index (1901–1964)

The Hyde Park Herald (1882–2008)

Digitized; searchable.

Oak Lawn Public Library
Obituaries from Local Newspapers

Index to 200,000+ obituaries and death notices published 1 January 1985 to the present in the following newspapers: Beverly Review, Blue Island Forum, Blue Island Sun Independent, Daily Southtown, Oak Lawn Independent, Oak Lawn Reporter, Southtown Economist, Southtown Star, Southwest Courier, Southwest News-Herald (Chicago edition),Southwest News-Herald, (Oak Lawn edition), and theStar (Oak Lawn edition).

Taxation[edit | edit source]

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Cook County Genealogy Online -- has more than 8 million birth, marriage, and death records for Cook County available online. (Fees are charged for obtaining copies.)

Wilmette Family History Center - has a large collection of Chicago and Cook County resources on microfilm. Available records include Chicago birth certificates, 1878-1915; Cook County marriage licenses, 1871-1916; and Chicago death certificates, 1878-1947. The Center also has all of the available Archdiocese of Chicago parish microfilms (records to 1915) and a complete set of Chicago city directories on microfilm. For more information, contact the center at (847) 251-9818.

Cook County, Illinois Birth Certificates, 1878-1922 Free indexes and images at FamilySearch-Record Search Records include such information as name of child, birthdate and place, gender, race, maiden name of mother, name and occupation of father and record number.

Cook County, Illinois Birth Registers, 1871-1915 Free indexes and images at FamilySearch-Record Search Records include such information as name of child, birthdate and place, gender, race, maiden name of mother, name and occupation of father and record number.

Cook County, Illinois Marriages 1871-1920 Name indexes and images of marriage licenses and returns recorded at Cook Co., including Chicago are available at FamilySearch-Record Search. Includes such information as names of the bride and groom and date and place of marriage.

Voter Registration[edit | edit source]

Libraries[edit | edit source]

Arlington Heights Memorial Library[edit | edit source]

500 North Dunton Avenue, Arlington Heights, IL 60004-5910
847-392-0100; Fax: 847-506-2650

Harold Washington Library[edit | edit source]

400 South State Street
Chicago, Illinois 60605
(312) 747-4300
(312) 747-4875 Special Collections, 9th Floor
(312) 747-4890 fax

The Newberry Library[edit | edit source]

Newberry library2.jpg

60 West Walton Street
Chicago, IL 60610-7324
(312) 943–9090

Reading Room hours
Tuesday–Friday: 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. (item requests 9:00 am–noon, and 1:00–4:00 pm)
Saturday 9:00 am–1:00 pm (Item requests 9:00 am-noon)

Genealogy Collection Guides and Research Tools
Quick Search Services: Fee $7.00 per search
* Chicago Newspaper Death Notice/Obituary Search
* City Directory Search
* Chicago Ward/Enumeration District Location Search
* Chicago Church Records Search
* Birth and Death Index Searches
* Census Index Search
* Census Search
* Federal Census of Illinois: Soundex Search Request
* Ireland's Townland Ordnance Survey Maps
* Naturalization Soundex Search

Elk Grove Village Library[edit | edit source]

1001 Wellington Avenue; Elk Grove Village, IL 60007-3391
847-439-0447; Fax: 847-439-0475; TDD: 847-439-0865; e-mail:
Monday–Thursday 9:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m.; Friday 9:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m.; Saturday 9:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m.; Sunday 1:00–7:00 p.m.

Oak Lawn Public Library [edit | edit source]

9427 South Raymond Avenue; Oak Lawn, IL 60453; 708-422-4990
Monday–Thursday: 9:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Sunday: 1:00–5:00 p.m. (mid-September through mid-May)
Obituaries from Local Newspapers
Index to 200,000+ obituaries and death notices published 1 January 1985 to the present in the following newspapers: Beverly Review, Blue Island Forum, Blue Island Sun Independent, Daily Southtown, Oak Lawn Independent, Oak Lawn Reporter, Southtown Economist, Southtown Star, Southwest Courier, Southwest News-Herald (Chicago edition), Southwest News-Herald, (Oak Lawn edition), and the Star (Oak Lawn edition).

Societies[edit | edit source]

Chicago Genealogical Society (P.O. Box 1160; Chicago, IL 60690-1160)

Online databases.

1. Vital Records From Chicago Newspapers, 1833-1848

2. Vital Records From Chicago Newspapers, 1849 and later

3. CGS Members Surname Database

South Suburban Genealogical and Historical Society (3000 West 170th Place; Hazel Crest, IL 60429-1174; 708-335-3340;
Library is located in the same building as the Municipal Center/Police Department.
Library hours:
Monday: 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.; Tuesday: 1:00–5:00 p.m.; Wednesday: 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.; Thursday: closed; Friday: 10:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m.; first Saturday of the month: 11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.; second Saturday of the month: 12:00–4:00 p.m.; Sunday: closed
Holdings include:
Oak Forest Hospital Cemetery
Seven (7) books of burial records for Cook County Cemetery from Oak Forest Hospital microfilmed by SSGHS. There are three rolls of microfilm covering the period of 4 March 1911 to 17 November 1971.
Pullman Car Company Employee Records
Pullman Car Works (111th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue) was one of the largest employers in the Chicago area. There are approximately 200,000 packets for individuals in the collection.
Online databases.
1. Able-Bodied Men Military Census 1861--1862
2.Cemetery Master Index by Township
3.WWII Harvey, Illinois Letters

Ethnic Societies
[edit | edit source]

The Czech & Slovak American Genealogy Society of Illinois (P.O. Box 313; Sugar Grove, IL 60554)
Library (T. G. Masaryk School; 5701 22nd Place; Cicero, IL 60804)
Open second Saturday September through May from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
Online Resources
1. Cemetery and Church Resource Page
2. Topical Index to Korney Articles (1996–2009)

Irish American Heritage Center (4626 North Knox Avenue; Chicago, IL 60630; 773-282-7035)


Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois (P.O. Box 515; Northbrook, IL 60056-0515;

Online databases.
1. Online Death Index Project

POINTers in Person (PIP) Chicago-North chapter; an affiliate of POINT (Pursuing Our Italian Names Together),

Online databases.

1. Chicago City Catholic Churches
2. Searching the Chicago Catholic Parish Database in One Step; Daniel E. Niemiec
3. Suburban Cook County Catholic Churches
4. Member Surnames

Polish Genealogical Society of America (984 North Milwaukee Avenue; Chicago, IL 60642-4101;
Library Hours: phone 773-384-3352
Online databases
1. Birth Index
2. Dziennik Chicagoski Death Notice Index: 1890–1929
3. Dziennik Chicagoski Death Notice Index: 1930–1971
4. Marriage Index for Polish Parishes in Chicago through 1915
5. Poles of Chicago 1837–1937
6. Polish White Eagle Association Index Search
7. PRCUA Insurance Claim File Index
8. St. John Cantius Church Births 1893–1915
9. SS. Cyril & Methodius Church, Lemont, IL, Birth & Death Index
10. Holy Trinity School Class 1883, Chicago, IL
11. St. Hedwig Orphanage Census 1920, Niles Township, IL

Web Sites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago © 2005 Chicago Historical Society. The Encyclopedia of Chicago © 2004 The Newberry Library
  2. Cook County, Illinois official web site
  3. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Population as of 2008.]