Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New: Cook County Marriage Index 1912-1924

FamilySearch has Cook County marriage license images from 1871 to 1920.

A search of "Smith" at CookCountyGenealogy.com suggests that marriage licenses are available there from 1930 forward.

So what about the licenses from 1921-1929? Up until now, I've always said, "There's no public index. Just mail in a search request form to the Cook County Clerk's office." I've done that successfully for my own research.

Yesterday a fellow researcher (who wants to remain anonymous) mentioned an Ancestry.com database called Cook County, Illinois Marriage Indexes, 1912-1924, new as of 17 Oct 2011. The notes say "The majority of these records come from the years 1914-1923" but the index still opens up a few more years and gives us an alternate way of searching before 1921.




 As you can see above, the index is alphabetical with both brides and grooms listed and it provides the name of the spouse, a date, and a serial number.

Comparing an entry with a marriage license (I chose Mary Appelman) suggests that the date is the marriage date (not the date the license was issued) and the serial number is the license number.



I can see a few ways that this index would be useful.

  1. If you find a 1921-1924 marriage listed here, it's pretty certain that a $15 search request to the county will result in a "found" result.
  2. If you can't find a marriage through 1920 at FamilySearch but can find the name here, it's likely that the license is online, just indexed in an interesting way. Keep looking. Search the Ancestry index by date, use other names to enter the FamilySearch database and then browse forward or backward to find the right license number.
One caution. The marriage indexes to 1916 available on FamilySearch microfilm include entries for licenses that weren't returned and so it can't be assumed that a couple married just because their names are in those indexes. (On the other hand, it's also not possible to assume that they didn't marry; it's possible the officiator simply forgot to send the license back to the clerk's office.) It would be tempting to use this new index to confirm a couple's marriage, but it's probably not wise without knowing how the index was created.

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