Cook County Genealogy
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"How simple a thing it seems to me that to know ourselves as we are, we must know our mothers’ names."
– Alice Walker

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do I locate records in Illinois counties other than Cook?
  • All records (Marriage, Birth and Death) are filed in the county where the event occurred.

Which birth, death and marriage documents are considered Genealogy documents?

All genealogical records issued by the Cook County Clerk’s office are considered non-certified documents, stamped “For Genealogy Purpose Only,” and under Illinois law are defined as:

  • Birth certificates that are 75 years or older (before today's date in 1944);
  • Marriage certificates that are 50 years or older (before today's date in 1969);
  • Death certificates that are 20 years or older (before today's date in 1999).

Birth Records

What information is shown on a Genealogy Birth Record?
  • Child’s first name, last name, parental information and address at the time of birth.

Can a genealogical document be used for legal purposes?
  • No, it is for informational purposes only.

Who is entitled to a Genealogy Birth record?
  • As long as the birth is 75 years or older, anyone is entitled to that record for genealogical purposes.

Death Records

What information is shown on a Genealogy Death Record?
  • Most death records will show the decedent’s name, date of birth, place of birth, parental information, marital status, last known address, occupation, place of death, cause of death, funeral home and burial information. The information is provided by an informant (family member, hospital records or friend). If this person does not have any information on the deceased, it will be indicated on the death record.

  • Prior to 1908, the information shown on a death record will be the name of the decedent, date of death, place of death, cause of death, age, funeral home and burial information.

Marriage Licenses & Applications

Who is entitled to a marriage license?
  • Unlike birth and death records, marriage licenses from 1872 to the present are public records that anyone may obtain.

What information is shown on a Genealogy Marriage License?
  • The groom’s name, bride’s name, the officiant’s name, date of marriage, place of marriage, date of issuance and date filed with the Cook County Clerk’s office.
  • A marriage license is legal proof of marriage. Application filled out to obtain the license.

Who is entitled to a marriage application?
  • Anyone is entitled to a copy of the marriage application that is 50 years or older, for genealogical purposes only. Note that parental information was not required on marriage applications prior to January 1, 1968. Marriage applications may be obtained by mail request only.

What is shown on a marriage application?
  • Marriage applications prior to 1968 contain the names of the groom and bride at the time of application, one or both parties’ address. Some applications will show ages and/or birthdates.

Why can I not find common law marriage records?
  • The State of Illinois does not recognize Common Law Marriages, therefore no records exist.
Copyright © 2019 Cook County Clerk Karen A. Yarbrough. All Rights Reserved.
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