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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.










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