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One Person, Two Death Records

This is one of those not-sure-what-it's-worth-but-it's-fun-to-ponder posts.

I was searching for a death record online at's Record Search and I happened on two death records for the same individual.

WACHOWSKI, ADAM 1908-07-16 CHICAGO 06 MO U 00019664

I wasn't surprised. I knew that from 1908-1915 there are two sets of records for Chicago--but I had never really compared certificates from both sets before.

I believe the first record, the one with hurried handwriting stamped with numbers and a date, is the original, and the handwritten number in the top right corner is the certificate number--the one you find in the online index--and that's how those records are arranged.

I think the second record is a copy of the original probably made at the Cook County Clerk's Office. Notice that it has a different number in the top right corner--a register number--and that's the way those certificates are organized.

Things to notice . . .

The original certificate has the register number written on it in two places. The two records are connected.

The information on both records seems to be exactly the same.

The original record seems to have been torn from a book of records. The duplicate seems to be part of a book.

Things to wonder . . .

What does the number "33717" on the original certificate mean?

What does "See Book of Corrections Letter W Page 364 Line 17 (Bessie Wachowski)" mean? On later records I've seen certificates of correction. What is it about this record that's wrong? Or do these records reflect a correction? Is information from the Book of Corrections available from the county clerk's office?

Was Bessie Adam's mother?

The cause of death has the number "105" written next to it. Was that a code for "gastroenteritis" and/or "malnutrition?" I think the answer to that is yes--gastroenteritis. Take a look at a record with the same cause of death and same code. And notice that the cause of death code doesn't appear on the copied record. Who put that code on? Who kept track of that information? What was done with it?

What discoveries have you made about the death records at FamilySearch's Record Search? Feel free to post a comment and share.


Anonymous said…
I've usually gotten copies of death records directly from Cook County (at a cost of about $15 per, unfortunately). The county death certificate has more information -- name of parents, informant, whether an autopsy was performed, etc. I'm guessing if you contact the Chicago Health Dept. they can check the book of corrections. When I've gotten documents from the county and there are corrections, I get both the original and the correction. Hope that helps...
- Roxe
Ottawa, Ontario Canada
Roxe, thanks for your comment! The death record form that was used in Cook County changed over the years and the early records--no matter who you get them from--didn't ask for parent names. If you scroll down on this page I summarize the information that you can expect to find for the various years.

Quick reminder to everyone--Illinois death records up through 1947 are available for public searching (FHL films and in Springfield) and so there's no need to pay $10-15 each for them. (After 1947, you do.)

Anonymous said…
I got a copy of a death certificate from Family Search that I think is my great grandmother. The problem is that her place of burial is listed as Mt Carmel but they have no record of her. Neither does Graceland. The date of death is May 12, 1907-any suggestions of where else I should look?
Peg Riverside, IL
Anonymous said…
I have been searching for the death record of Amelia (Emilia) Schweder who died in May of 1914. I found her obit in the Chicago Examiner (thanks to your post on the Examiner at the CPL) but see no listing of her on Family Search. I know she is burried at Forest Home Cemetery, next to her husband and son. Have all the Cook County records been transcribe and hers is just MIA or are there other ones that will come out at some time in the future?

Linda -- You don't mention Emelia's age or other identifying information, but could this be the right record?

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