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.










Friday, October 18, 2013

Guide to Online Death Indexes for Chicago: Which Ones to Use When (with links)


Handy Links to the Indexes Mentioned in this Post
Illinois, Cook County Death Certificates, 1878-1922 (FamilySearch)
Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947 (FamilySearch)
Illinois Statewide Death Index, Pre-1916 (Illinois Secretary of State)
Illinois Statewide Death Index, 1916-1947 (Illinois Secretary of State)
Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 (Ancestry)
Cook County Genealogy, Certificates 20 Years or Older (Cook County Clerk)

If you're searching for Chicago and Cook County death records, there are a number of overlapping online indexes to choose from. In this post, I'll give you links to the indexes 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 1948 forward from the county or state ($17 + a handling fee if you buy the records online at www.cookcountygenealogy.com)
  • get records up through 1947 from microfilm available through Family History Centers or in Springfield (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; $6.00 + a $.50 handling fee if you get them from me through Genlighten).

Illinois, Cook County Death Certificates, 1878-1922 (FamilySearch)

Quick advice: If you're going to get records from microfilm, use this index for searches up through 1915. If you don't find a match, search the Pre-1916 Illinois Statewide Death Index. If you still can't find a match, email me through chicagogenealogy.com. I can check an alternate index on film and sometimes that helps. If you're searching for records 1916-1922, use the Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947 first. It's mentioned below.

Strengths:
  • includes extracted information like birth date, birth place, occupation and place of burial and, after 1907, parent, spouse, and/or informant name
  • allows multi-field searching on fields such as parent and spouse
  • gives Family History Library film numbers which makes it easy to retrieve the records
  • can be attached as a source to a FamilySearch tree
  • an be used to distinguish between people who have the same name using the extracted information
Limitations: 
  • doesn't index coroner's death certificates up through 1911
  • when name are spelled in unexpected ways or transcribed wrong, it can be tough to find them
  • certificate numbers usually appear in the index as "cn 00000" listed under "Reference ID" but early certificates can have two or three numbers on top; if indexers choose the non-sequential number it can't be used to find the record in microfilm (but there are ways around that)
  • unless you've bookmarked the search page, it takes time to click through to find it
Something You Should Know:

From 1908-1915 there are two sets of Chicago records included in the microfilmed series and this index includes both. It's common to find two entries for the same person with two different film numbers leading to two different records. The information should be the same but one record will likely be an original and one will likely be a handwritten copy. I will share more about this in another blog post.

Quick advice: If you're going to get records from microfilm, use this index first. If you can't find the name you're looking for, try any of the other indexes that cover the same years. If you can't find a name from 1916-1933 in any online index, email me through chicagogenealogy.com. I can check an alternate index on film and sometimes that helps. 

Strengths:
  • can be searched using parent and spouse names
  • can be searched using birth place and a span of birth years
  • often includes extracted information such as birth place, birth date, parent names, spouse name, occupation, cemetery name
  • provides film number that can be used to find the record
  • can be attached as a source to a FamilySearch tree
  • because it has extracted information, it can be used to distinguish between people who have the same name
  • includes deaths from all Illinois counties
  • includes stillbirths
Limitations:
  • when name are spelled in unexpected ways or transcribed wrong, it can be tough to find them
  • sometimes the certificate numbers aren't the ones that lead to the records on film, but in those cases the correct numbers can be found using another index
  • unless you've bookmarked the search page, it takes time to click through to find it


Illinois Statewide Death Index, Pre-1916 (Illinois Secretary of State)

Quick advice: This was the go-to index for years and it's still good. If you can't find a name here, try other indexes or try accessing it with Stephen Morse's One Step search page. If you're planning to get the matching records from microfilm, copy the entire index entry. You'll need the full death date and place ("Chicago" is different from "Cook County." If you're going to order film through a Family History Center, don't use the catalog to find the film number. Without going into a complex explanation, let me just say that in many cases it won't work. Use the FamilySearch death index (linked above) instead.

Strengths:
  • includes names not found in the FamilySearch index, including individuals who had coroner's death certificates
  • if the certificate is hard to read, the name is more likely to be spelled correctly in this index than in the index at FamilySearch
  • certificate numbers are accurate
Limitations:
  • can only be searched by name unless you access it with Stephen Morse's One Step search page
  • unless you use a key like the one I created for Wilmette Family History Center patrons, choosing a film from the Family History Library catalog is a guessing game and it's easy to get it wrong


Illinois Statewide Death Index, 1916-1947 (Illinois Secretary of State)

Strengths: 
  • index entries can be used to easily find records on film
  • includes deaths from all Illinois counties
Limitations:


Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 (Ancestry.com)

Quick advice: If you want to pull up a list of deaths that happened on a certain day or if you're looking for death records from 1948-1988, this is the index to use. If you find records before 1948 and you don't need instant access, get them from film; it's much less expensive. For records after that, just click through to www.cookcountygenealogy.com, pay the fee, and do the download.

Strengths:
  • allows you to search by date of death with or without a name
  • provides certificate number that can be used to find the record on microfilm
  • index entry can be attached to Ancestry.com trees
  • a "Purchase from Cook County" link will take you to a page where you can purchase record images online for immediate download
Limitations:
  • index information limited to name, death date, and certificate number
  • it's a subscription site (but you should be able to get free access through a library or FamilyHistory Center)
Something you should know: 

The rollover text for the "Purchase from Cook County" link says "images and original certificates are only available through the Cook County Clerk's office and clicking will take you to www.cookcountygenealogy.com where they can be purchased for download for $17 + a $1.75  cart handling fee. For records from 1948 forward, this is true, but records up through 1947 can be printed from microfilm available through FamilySearch or the Illinois State Archives in Springfield for the cost of a photocopy.


Cook County Genealogy, Certificates 20 Years or Older (Cook County Clerk)

Quick advice: Start here if you need records from 1948 forward. If you find index matches, click through and purchase the records online. If you don't, check the index at Ancestry.com. If you can't find the record for download here, you can mail in a search request to the county clerk or you can ask Genlighten's provider mollykennedy for help. She has access to later Illinois death certificates in Springfield and she will do her absolute best, even submitting multiple requests, to have the clerks find what you need.

Strengths:
  • matching records can be purchased and downloaded immediately
Limitations:
  • can only be searched using exact name spellings and a year range
  • only provides name, death date, and certificate number