Friday, December 13, 2013

Guide to Online Birth Indexes for Cook County: Which Ones to Use When (with links)

Handy Links to the Indexes Mentioned in this Post

Cook County Birth Registers, 1871-1915 (FamilySearch)
Cook County Birth Certificates, 1878-1922 (FamilySearch)
Cook County, Illinois, Birth Certificates Index, 1871-1922 (Ancestry)
Cook County, Illinois Birth Index, 1916-1935 (Ancestry)
Historical Cook County Illinois Vital Records (Cook County Clerk)


This is the last of a series of three posts focusing on the Chicago and Cook County vital records indexes that are available online. In this article, I'll give you links to the Cook County birth indexes that I use regularly and summarize their strengths and limitations to help you decide which one(s) will work best for your search.

Once you've found an index entry, the records can be obtained from a number of different places but the rule of thumb is this:
  • get records from 1923 forward from the the Cook County Clerk's Office ($15 + a handling fee if you buy the records online at www.cookcountygenealogy.com)

  • get records from 1871-1922 from Family History Library microfilm (the cost of a photocopy if you have local access to the films; $7.50 if you need to order a film from the FamilySearch catalog and have it sent to your local Family History Center);  or from me through Genlighten ($6.00 each with quick turnaround; discounts for batch orders)

Cook County Birth Registers, 1871-1915 (FamilySearch)


Quick Advice: Use this index if you're looking for births from 1871-1877. The birth register pages are the only records that are available for this time period (no certificates before 1878). Be aware that many of the entries lack given name(s) for the child so you might need to search on parent names.

If you're looking for records from 1878 forward, search the Cook County Birth Certificates, 1878-1922 first. It leads to certificates. If you can't find a match there, then check this index because names might be transcribed differently. If you find a match in this index, the birth register number can be used to find the certificate.

Strengths: 
  • can be searched using combinations of child's name, parent names, gender, race, birth year range, and parent birth places
  • * can be used as a wildcard
  • search results show birth dates and parent names
  • entries provide FamilySearch film numbers
  • the Reference IDs provide volume and page numbers needed to find matching entries
Limitations:
  • reference IDs are inconsistent (some provide volume and page; some provide page and line number)
  • in most cases you'll have to look at the register page to get the certificate number needed to find the matching birth certificate (1878 forward)
  • if a name is misspelled, especially the first few letters, it might be hard to bring up the matching entry
Additional Information: It seems likely that birth information was copied from certificates onto the register pages in the order that the clerk's office received them and that certificate numbers were assigned based on the line numbers in the register. If you have a choice, get a copy of the birth certificate rather than the register pages.

Cook County Birth Certificates, 1878-1922 (FamilySearch)


Quick Advice: Start with this index. If you don't find a match for a child, search parent names instead. If you still can't find a match for births up through 1915, try searching the birth register index linked above.

Strengths: 
  • can be searched using combinations of  child's name, parent names, gender, birth year range, and parent birth places
  • * can be used as a wildcard
  • search results show birth dates and parent names
  • entries provide FamilySearch film numbers and certificate numbers (Reference ID)
Limitations:
  • if a name is misspelled, especially the first few letters, it might be hard to bring up the matching entry

Cook County, Illinois, Birth Certificates Index, 1871-1922 (Ancestry)


Quick Advice: This index overlaps the two FamilySearch indexes listed above and it doesn't provide certificate numbers or distinguish between birth register entries and birth certificate entries. It's best to use the FamilySearch indexes first.

Strengths:
  • combines the two FamilySearch indexes listed above
  • entries include FamilySearch film numbers
  • entries can be saved to Ancestry trees
Limitations:
  • entries don't include certificate numbers
  • searches bring up entries for birth register pages and birth certificates; the only way to tell them apart is to check film numbers in the Family History Library Catalog or to find matching index entries at FamilySearch
  • no links available for purchasing the matching records through the county clerk's website

Cook County, Illinois Birth Index, 1916-1935 (Ancestry)


Quick advice: Use this index if you need records from 1923 forward or if you are planning to purchase records from 1916-1922 from the County instead of getting them from FamilySearch films.

Strengths:
  • can be searched using the child's name and birthdate
  • provides file (certificate) numbers
  • provides links to purchase records online from the Cook County Clerk's website
Limitations:
  • database doesn't include parents which limits search possibilities and makes it hard to find matches for common names
  • doesn't provide film number for the records from 1916-1922 that can be obtained from FamilySearch films

cookcountygenealogy.com (Cook County Clerk)


Quick advice: The search capability on this site seems to be limited to exact spellings within a year range. Create a free account on this site but use the 1916-1935 index at Ancestry.com to search (see above). This approach offers more flexibility and lets you easily click through to purchase and download records from this site. 

Strengths:
  • search results include children's names and birth dates
  • database includes records 75 years and older
  • records are available for immediate purchase and download
Limitations:
  • must create an account and log in before searching
  • can only be searched using exact spellings
  • searches can only be limited by a date range
  • doesn't include early birth records and may not include recently-released records
  • database doesn't include parents which limits search possibilities and makes it hard to find matches for common names
Additional Information: Birth certificates are available if they are 75 year or older but the online collection is, to the best of my knowledge, incomplete. If you can't find what you need online, you can mail in a search request using the Genealogy Record Request Form.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Guide to Online Marriage Indexes for Cook County: Which Ones to Use When (with links)

Handy Links to the Indexes Mentioned in this Post

Cook County, Illinois, Marriage and Death Indexes, 1833-1889 (Ancestry)
Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, 1763-1900 (Illinois Secretary of State)
Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871-1920 (FamilySearch)
Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index, 1871-1920 (Ancestry)
Cook County, Illinois Marriage Indexes, 1912-1942 (Ancestry)
Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 (Ancestry)
Historical Cook County Illinois Vital Records (Cook County Clerk)


This is the second in a series of three posts focusing on the Chicago and Cook County vital records indexes that are available online. In this article, I'll give you links to the Cook County marriage indexes that I use regularly and summarize their strengths and limitations to help you decide which one(s) will work best for your search.

Once you've found an index entry, the records can be obtained from a number of different places but the rule of thumb is this:
  • get records from 1921 forward from the the Cook County Clerk's Office ($15 + a handling fee if you buy the records online at www.cookcountygenealogy.com)

  • get records up through 1916 from the Illinois Regional Archives Depository at Northeastern Illinois University (reimburse IRAD for the copy costs; you can visit in person or submit requests by telephone); from Family History Library microfilm (the cost of a photocopy if you have local access to the films; $7.50 if you need to order a film from the FamilySearch catalog and have it sent to your local Family History Center);  or from me through Genlighten ($6.00 each with quick turnaround; discounts for batch orders)

  • get records from 1917-1920 from Family History Library microfilm (see above)

  • get the 1833-1871 newspaper notices/articles mentioned in Sam Fink's Index from an online Chicago Tribune source if the code is * or from a repository that holds newspapers for any of the other codes

Cook County, Illinois, Marriage and Death Indexes, 1833-1889 (Ancestry.com)


Quick Advice: This is actually a newspaper index known as "Sam Fink's." Use it when you want to find mention of pre-fire marriages, 1833-1871, in newspapers. To learn more about this index, refer to my "Sam Fink's Marriage-Death Index Available on Ancestry" post.

Strengths:
  • can be search by bride and/or groom name
  • can be searched by marriage date
  • page images can browsed
  • index page images include the newspaper title symbols needed for finding the matching articles
Limitations:
  • must have a key to the newspaper title symbols in order to follow up (see below)
  • entries for marriages appear twice because the marriage index appears twice on the film
Newspaper Key (for marriages and deaths):

Chicago Tribune *
Chicago Times %
Chicago Evening Journal $
Chicago Democrat #
Chicago Democratic Press #
Chicago Evening Post ?
Chicago Record-Herald "
Chicago Daily News @
Chicago Examiner [cent sign]
The Inter-Ocean :

Additional Information: These index entries are included in the Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, 1763-1900 with FINK in the license number column but that index doesn't provide the newspaper codes so it's best to use the one at Ancestry. The marriages in this index end in 1871; it's the death entries that go through 1889.

Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, 1763-1900 (Illinois Secretary of State)


Quick advice: The entries in this index are covered by Sam Fink's Index (see above) and the Illinois Cook County Marriage Index, 1871-1920 (see below). Use this index when you need to locate or confirm a license number for a record found in the FamilySearch Index or when you think the marriage might have taken place outside Cook County.

Strengths:
  • includes entries for other Illinois counties
  • may include spellings different than the FamilySearch Index
Limitations:
  • doesn't provide newspaper codes for the Fink entries
  • if you find matches up through 1900, it takes an extra step to find the corresponding FamilySearch microfilm numbers

Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871-1920 (FamilySearch)


Quick advice: Use this index first if you're looking for marriages for 1871-1920. 

Strengths:
  • can be searched by bride or groom or by bride and groom using the spouse field
  • can limit search results by approximate birth year
  • provides ages for bride and groom
  • provides FamilySearch film numbers as "Reference ID"
Limitations:
  • the search form offers birth place and parent name options but the information isn't in the index so you'll get no results if you use those fields
  • some index entries don't include license numbers; you can get them up through 1900 from the Illinois Secretary of State index listed above

Quick advice: This index overlaps the FamilySearch index listed above. 

Strengths:
  • easy to search
  • can save results to an Ancestry.com tree
Limitations:
  • lists film numbers but doesn't provide the license numbers needed to find the records on film

Cook County, Illinois Marriage Indexes, 1912-1942 (Ancestry.com)


Quick advice: Use this index when you need to find marriages from 1921-1942. If you find a match for 1930 forward, go to cookcountygenealogy.com to purchase and download the matching record. If you find a match for 1921-1929, try the county site but know that you will probably need to mail a Genealogy Record Request Form to get a copy. If you are looking for a 1912-1920 record, use the FamilySearch Index if you plan to get the record from FamilySearch microfilm.

Strengths:
  • can be searched using combinations of names and dates
  • index entries are linked to an index page that can be attached to an Ancestry.com tree
  • entries include the spouse name on the same line as the indexed person
  • search is more flexible than the one at cookcountygenealogy.com
Limitations:
  • doesn't provide FamilySearch film numbers
  • doesn't provide a quick link for getting the record from Cook County

Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 (Ancestry.com)


Quick advice: Use this index when you need to find marriages from 1930-1960. If you find a match, click through to purchase and download the matching record from cookcountygenealogy.com.

Strengths:
  • can be searched using combinations of names and dates
  • index entries can be attached to an Ancestry.com tree
  • entries include the spouse name
  • search is more flexible than the one at cookcountygenealogy.com
  • if you find a match, you can click through to purchase and download the matching record from cookcountygenealogy.com; the item will appear in your cart after you log in
Limitations:
  • few, if any

cookcountygenealogy.com (Cook County Clerk)


Quick advice: The search capability on this site seems to be limited to exact spellings within a year range. Create a free account on this site but use the 1930-1960 index at Ancestry.com to search it (see above). It offers more flexibility and you can easily click through to purchase and download records from this site. 

Strengths:
  • records are available for immediate purchase and download
  • entries provide spouse names, license numbers, and event dates
Limitations:
  • must create an account and log in before searching
  • can only be searched using exact spellings
  • searches can only be limited by a date range
  • doesn't appear to include marriages before c. 1930
Additional Information: Marriage licenses are available if they are 20 years or older but the online collection is, to the best of my knowledge, incomplete. If you can't find what you need online, you can mail in a search request using the Genealogy Record Request Form.










Monday, April 15, 2013

How to Find EDs using alookatcook.com

I'm writing this post as a quick response to a Chicago Genealogy Facebook page question about how to use an address to determine a 1920 Census ED using the maps found on alookatcook.com.

1) Find the address using Google Maps. I'm going to try 2711 Hillock.

2) Once you've found the address, note the large cross streets. In this case, the canal/river is prominent and I notice that the address is southwest of the curve.

3) Go to alookatcook.com and click on the 1920 Ward map.

4) Notice how prominent the canal is. Based on the Google map, I guess that the address is part or the 4th ward so I click on the number 4 to see the map of EDs within the ward.

5) Going back to the Google map, I look for large streets and try to find them on the ED map.

I see that the address is west of Halsted and south of Cermak. Does that help?

Yes. I see Halsted on the ED map so that narrows down the eastern border.

6) I go back to the Google map and look for other streets close to the address. I see names like Throop, Grove, Loomis, Lock, Poplar.

7) I go back to the ED map and try to find those streets.

I see that Throop and Loomis are boundaries for some EDs and I notice that the river, Archer, Lyman, and 31st are the north/south boundaries.

8) I go back to the Google map to find the Archer, Lyman, etc. and finally I'm able to say that my address looks like it's south of the river and north of Archiver between Throop and Loomis.

9) ED 218 is a good guess so from there, I go to Ancestry.com (or another site with the census) and scroll through looking for the Hillock address. Most times when I do that I refer back to the map(s), and I can often tell the path that the enumerator was taking. It can help me to guess whether I need to look at the beginning, middle, or end of the image set.

Hope that helps! It's not an easy process--lots of trial and error--but it does work.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Requesting Images from FamilySearch's Photoduplication Services

Note: The Photoduplication Service mentioned in this blog post are no longer available. 

In a previous post, Some Images No Longer Available on FamilySearch, I noted that the FamilySearch Wiki article on Illinois, Cook County Death Records mentioned that digital images could be obtained through FamilySearch's Photoduplication Services. In order to be able to better answer questions about the service, I decided to try it myself.

Submitting the Test Request
On January 29, I sent an email asking for a copy of a New York City church baptismal record for Sarah Catherine Trafford. She appears on my husband's family tree and it was a record that we sincerely wanted. I provided a link to the FamilySearch index entry and included the index information. I also provided my name, address, telephone number, and email address, as requested.

Reply to the Test Request
Today I received an email with the subject "You have received a file from photoduplication Shared." It included a link, good for 14 days, that I could use to download the file. Clicking on it took me to a page that let me download a zip file.














The zip file contained two files -- a jpg and a pdf, both of which were created on February 14. The jpg was large (2416 x 2966 pixels) and very readable. The pdf was a cover letter that told me the record was the "best copy available." It also gave me details on how to order additional records by email and wished me success.

Why I'll Continue to Order Films
So, in summary, I received a quality image by email for free in three weeks. Can't beat that! I'm grateful to the volunteer(s) at FamilySearch who retrieved the image and forward it to me, but I don't think I will use the service again. Why?

Well, for one thing, a new message has been added to the current Photoduplication Services FamilySearch Wiki page:






I have easy access to a Family History Center and so I can't justify asking someone else to obtain records for me. I'm pretty sure the image retrieval service wasn't meant to take the place of film ordering.

But there's more to it than that. Looking at the record that I got today, I saw an entry for Sarah Catherine Trafford, born to Abraham and Basilia, but two lines below I also saw an entry for an Abraham--an adult. I think Sarah's father might have been baptized a year and a half after she was born. It made me wonder if other family members might have appeared on the reel?

I also found myself wishing that I had a title page from whatever volume the page was from (I probably should have asked for it,  but I didn't think about it when I sent in my request) and it's likely that the baptism was just a one-page entry but some registers span two pages and I'd feel more comfortable if I had seen the register myself. I guess I'm just an independent sort at heart. : )

How This Relates to Chicago Record Retrieval
So, how does this relate to the Chicago vital records that were taken offline? It's an awkward question for me to answer in an unbiased way, but I'll try.

If you're not in a hurry for a record and you don't have access to a Family History Center, then I'd say it's a great way to go!

If you do have access to a Family History Center, then it's up to you to decide whether to use the service or to order in a film.

Where does my service fit in?
If you need a record in a hurry (I can visit the Family History Center on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday) or if you've decided, for whatever reason, not to use the free service, then I'm still here, ready to help. I'm planning to offer a discount on multiple-record orders going forward and I'll be updating my Genlighten.com offerings soon.







Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentines on Our Family Tree

Sarah Ann Valentine Burr Ackley
My husband and I have three Valentines on our family tree--Valentine Mink, Valentine Smith, and Sarah Ann Valentine. I love them all.

Valentine Mink was born in Germany in 1805 but lived much of his life as a farmer in Floyd, New York. He carefully crafted his will to divide his estate fairly among his children. “The Cow or the thirty five Dollars that I gave to Janetta C. and the Horse or one hundred and twenty Dollars that I give to my sons George Franklin and John Philip is to make them equal to the elder children and not be included in the one eighth which each of them is to have.” I love him for that.

Valentine Smith was born in Chicago in 1873. As a descendant of an early settler and successful entrepreneur, she inherited a place in society that gave her the freedom to focus on her passions and one of them was history. She served, briefly, as Chicago’s first archivist and spearheaded a number of important local history projects. Many people who worked with Valentine found her difficult and demanding, but in the early 1900s she served as a constant reminder to the city fathers that Chicago’s history was worth preserving and worth celebrating. I love her for that.

And then there’s Sarah Ann Valentine, born in Schodack, New York in 1837. As a young woman she married a widower with children and then, three years after his death, she became my great-great grandfather’s third wife.

Sarah’s life was simple. She cooked. She cleaned. She went to church. She mothered stepchildren in addition to her own. Sometimes she was happy. Sometimes she wasn’t. But, she was grateful for family and friends.

On 8 Feb 1883 she wrote: "quite a pleasant Day washed flanel sheets, Baked Bread, commenced Mr A shirts, sewed some. … roads drifted some. Alone with my little family this eve my heart rises with thanks … "

I feel a surge of emotion when I read those words. I love Sarah for taking the time to keep the journals that allow me to feel close to her.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and to the ancestors you love.

(This blog post originally appeared in the February 2013 Genlighten.com newsletter.)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Some Chicago Images No Longer Available on FamilySearch

This morning I received an email from a fellow researcher mentioning that the images for Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1922 are no longer available online at FamilySearch. Unfortunately, it's true. The same is true for the Cook County birth register, birth certificate, and marriage license collections. On a positive note, the indexes remain. Two steps forward + one step back still = one step forward for Chicago researchers.

If you visit the FamilySearch Wiki page Illinois, Cook County Death Records and scroll down to the "Image Visibility" section, it explains that a new contract has been negotiated with Cook County and that the records were removed as part of that agreement. The article continues on to explain that "FamilySearch will receive an additional 4.7 million records for FamilySearch patrons." I don't know what that means, but I hope it's good news.

If you need access to the images that were removed, the Wiki page offers three suggestions including submitting a request to FamilySearch's Photoduplication Services, a way to get limited number of records for free. Also, for those of you in the Chicago area, most all of the films for the early records are available at the Wilmette Family History Center but check their holdings before you make the trip.

I can't fill in the gap by offering free lookups, but I will add these records back to the list of documents that I can retrieve through my chicagogenealogy store on Genlighten.com. I'm wondering about the possibility of offering to take quick iPhone camera photos of the records for a budget-friendly price. They'd be quite large and readable, but they wouldn't look like images scanned directly from film or like the images that I get when I print and scan a paper copy. What do you think? Would that be of interest?