Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Obtaining Chicago & Cook County Vital Records On A Budget

Vital records for Cook County, and specifically Chicago, are available on microfilm for a significantly reduced cost, compared to requesting the documents through the Cook County Clerk or Vital Records. Below you can find details of what is available and how you can order copies of these records. Copies of these certificates and licenses are only $6.50, compared to the $15-17 per document through Cook County.

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed a majority of documents and registers, so no vital records exist prior to then. Both birth registers (certificates exist post-1878) and marriage licenses began again in 1871, whereas the death certificates didn't begin again until 1878.

Image source: Hearst's Chicago American, January 2, 1902, Page 8
(Click to enlarge)
Cook County also didn't require the official registration of births until January 1, 1902, once a bill in the Illinois State Senate passed and became law. Along with the new law to urge Chicago residents to register their children's birth, was allowed "25 cents for every baby born and registered." By the second day the County Clerk had received more than 80 applications. However, the County Clerk neither had the actual certificates to issue nor the money to provide to applicants for the registrations. The County Clerk at that time, Mr. Knopf, explained he would issue certificates but they had not been supplied to him by the secretary of the State Board of Heath. Mr. Knopf furthermore stated that the County Board would need to supply the money.

How To Order Copies:

Birth certificates and registers are available on microfilm from 1871-1922 and can be ordered through the link here.

Death certificates are available on microfilm from 1878-1945 and can be ordered through the link here.

Marriage licenses are available on microfilm through 1871-1920 and can be ordered through the link here.