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Showing posts from June, 2015

How to Do a Pull-out-all-the-stops Pre-1916 Death Record Search in Chicago

This evening, chicago-lookups, a go-to person for early Chicago vital records now that I'm a sun-warmed, ocean-cooled Californian, wrote to ask me what to do in a case where there are no apparent matches in any of the available indexes for the name and the death date that her client provided. As my reply to her grew longer and longer, I realized that my answer might be useful to a wider audience. Blog post time! Here is what I would do to search for a pre-1916 Chicago death certificate if I wanted to exhaust every possibility that I could think of before reporting back to a client: 1) Check the Illinois Statewide Death Index, Pre-1916 using Stephen Morse's One Step approach . Search the given name and surname, as provided. Search the given name and surname, leaving off letters. For example, use Mar... if the name is Mary, Maria, Marianna, Marianne, Martha, Marta. Use Ab... Abraham just in case the name is in the index as Abe. You get the idea. Also try just the fir

Clerk's Hesitancy Might Mean No Record to be Found

When I was actively pursuing Chicago research, I sometimes searched the ProQuest version of the Chicago Tribune  when I wanted contemporary insights into the workings of, say, the vital records office.  Organizing files earlier today, I came across a copy of an 1878 article titled "The County Building" which included a paragraph suggesting that the County Clerk was a bit timid about taking action to force ministers and physicians to report births, marriages, and deaths.  THE COUNTY BUILDING.  Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963); Mar 8, 1878; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 - 1986) pg. 8  If you've been looking for a record that doesn't seem to exist, this might be why. My feeling, though, based on thousands of searches, is that most marriages and deaths were probably recorded (although sometimes marriage licenses were obtained but never returned) but that births were often overlooked.

My Experience Obtaining a Cook Vital Record In Person

I wrote this blog post in 2014, but never shared it. Looking back, I'm thinking the information might be useful and so I'm going to make some minor edits and click the "Publish" button. ~ Cyndy Almost a year ago I received an email from someone asking for my help to obtain a certified copy of a Chicago death certificate from 1910. When someone needs a record that can only be obtained from the Cook County Clerk's Office , I usually suggest contacting the office directly but in this case the circumstances were such that I thought it would be best for someone to obtain the record in person. I offered to make the trip as part of my continuing education because I'd never been to a satellite office before. Here's my experience in a nutshell: I visited the Skokie office on September 11. The clerk tried very hard to find a digital copy of the record in her computer system for me, but had no luck. I left a by-mail request. After a few weeks of waiting, I