In the March 2008 Family Tree Magazine
Branching Out news column, we reported the clerk’s office in Cook County, Illinois—home to Chicago—was digitizing vital records for an online index.
The project is finally finished, and you can search the index at the county's Genealogy Online Web site
. Records date back to the 1880s (the Great Chicago Fire destroyed Cook County vital records from before 1871).
First, you’ll need a free site registration. Then you can search birth and death certificates (older than 75 and 50 years, respectively), and marriage licenses (older than 50 years) by name and optional year range, or year and file number.
Online genealogy guru Steve Morse has created an online form
that gives you a sounds-like option for names.
Matches show the person’s name, the record date and file number, with an option to download a copy of the record from the clerk's office for $15.
You also could use the index information to order the microfilmed records from the Family History Library (run a keyword search of the online catalog
on cook county
). The rental fee runs about $5 per roll; visit your local Family History Center
to put in your request.
: Click Comments below for expert tips on finding microfilmed Cook County vital records. Also, as a Family Tree Magazine
E-mail Update newsletter reader pointed out, records are still being added to the CookCountyGenealogy database.)