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Showing posts from 2017

Lucy Theodate Holmes' Christmas Sorrow

Kalamazoo County death register showing entry for Baby Boy Holmes Some years ago, I spent many hours researching Lucy Theodate Holmes, the daughter of Myrta Z. Belknap and H. H. Holmes , and one of the things I learned was that she gave birth to a son who died on Christmas--a son whose earthly life lasted but 45 minutes. Baby Boy Hunter died on 25 December 1919. His death was reported to the Kalamazoo County Clerk where he was recorded as the son of "Lucy T. Holmes," born in Illinois, and "James Douglas Hunter," born in Minnesota. [1] The death record for Baby Boy Hunter can be viewed on FamilySearch but you will need to be logged in to access it: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS36-C7P5 The cause of death is difficult to read, but it appears to be "Asphyxia due to prolapsed cord and difficult breech extraction following version." I cannot imagine the pain that Lucy must have endured on that day--and on the many Christmases t

Asking for Films to be Added to FamilySearch's Digital Collection

I've been working on some Ohio research lately and yesterday's finds led me to Knox County deed book films that haven't been made available online yet. I recalled reading something about asking FamilySearch to add films to a wish list and a bit of online searching took me to a FamilySearch article titled " UPDATE: FamilySearch Digital Records Access Replacing Microfilm ." It says "if customers need access to a particular film yet to be digitized, they can express interest to have it added to the priority digitization by contacting FamilySearch Support." [1] So, I called the number (1-866-406-1830) and inquired. The short of it is, I was allowed to ask for up to five films and so I did. This morning I received an email telling me three things: My request was submitted. They might not be able to put a film online; it depends on permission from the record owner. They can't tell me when the films might be available and can't notif

Update: How to Find Cook County Marriage Licenses

Access to Chicago and Cook County records has changed a number of times in the 10+ years I've been doing research in the city and sometimes it's hard to keep up. This is the first in a series of three posts aimed at answering the question, "Where should I look for vital records?" For marriages, in short, (no matter what an index search may tell you about availability ), you can get licenses from 1871 to 1941 online through FamilySearch by visiting a Family History Center or an affiliate library . After that, you'll need to contact the Cook County Clerk's Office for the records. Unlike birth and death records, marriage licenses were numbered consecutively without starting over. So, if you have a license number, you can easily pick a "film" from the record groups linked below and play the high/low number game to zero in on the right image. If you have a film number and an image number, you can go right to the document. And, if you have neither

Cook County Marriage Licenses: Creative Sorting in Family Search Catalog

One of the things on my to-do list is to wrap my mind around which Chicago and Cook County vital records are available online at FamilySearch and which are only available on film at the Wilmette Family History Center and at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and which are only available from the Cook County Clerk's Office. So, this morning I took a good look at the catalog entry for  Illinois, Cook County, Marriage Records, 1920-1950 . Scrolling down quickly, looking for camera icons, it looked like all the licenses from 1920 to 1941 were accessible and that a few after that date had also been put online. But, taking a closer look, I realized that the available "later" records are actually from 1941. Here's what's up: The "film" notes begin with descriptions that include series, license numbers, and years, and--really important--the entries are sorted by that information. (See images example below.) It works great for series

Celebrating Digital Access: Cook County Out-of-town Death Certificates

Today's post focuses on Out of Town Deaths, 1909-1915 , a unique set of Cook County death records that are available on FamilySearch from a Family History Center or an affiliate library. Here is an example of an out-of-town death certificate for Flora Smith who died in Kansas City, Missouri. Notice that it's neatly written on a City of Chicago death certificate form. And notice that it only includes basic information: name, sex, color, age, death date, place of death, place of burial, undertaker, cause of death, and a physician’s name and address. "Out of town deaths, 1909-1915," FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/280109 : accessed 22 October 2017) > series 4, nos. 1-1490, Jan.-Sept. 1912, microfilm 1298897 > digital folder 004005117 > image 51, Flora Smith, no. 45 (11 January 1912). Now compare the death certificate that was created for Flora in Missouri. The information on this record was recorded in two or more hands and it

Celebrating Digital Access: Coroners' Inquest Records, 1872-1911

Yesterday I wrote about  coroners' death certificates . Today I'll focus on a related source—the Cook County, Illinois coroners' inquest records, Dec. 1872-Nov. 1911 . Background As I mentioned in the coroners' death certificate post, a coroner was called to investigate deaths that occurred under unusual circumstances. A jury was assembled, witnesses were interviewed, and, together, they tried to determine the cause of death. The findings were recorded as inquest records—short entries in bound volumes—and as the verdict on the coroners' death certificates. To see a list of situations where today's medical examiner would be called in (Cook County changed from coroner to medical examiner in 1976), visit the Medical Examiner page on the Cook County Government website. What Information Do the Inquest Records Include? The format of the records changed over time. The first few volumes contain formulaic paragraph-style reports written in a blank ledger. Lat

Celebrating Digital Access: Coroners' Death Certificates

Today's post focuses on Cook County coroner's death certificates, 1879-1904  which can be accessed for free on FamilySearch if you visit a Family History Center or an affiliate library. What is a coroner's death certificate? If a Cook County death occurs under unusual circumstances--homicide, suicide, or accident, for example--or if the cause of death is unknown, the coroner is called in to investigate. Between 1879 and August 1904, two records were created when that happened: a coroner's inquest record and a coroner's death certificate. The records are related, but they're not the same. (If a person died from natural causes, there was no inquest and a "regular" death certificate was created. And, after 1904, the results of the inquest were noted on the "regular" certificates.) Here's an example of a coroner's death certificate. Example of a Coroner's Death Certificate (1) Notice it lists the "verdict of the juro

Celebrating Digital Access: 1937 Lurie Index (Chicago Voters)

Example card from the Lurie Index of People in Chicago in 1937 as well as All of the Voters' Registration for Chicago Today's post focuses on the Lurie index of people in Chicago in 1937 as well as all of the voters' registration for Chicago . As the title states, this alphabetical card file appears to list registered voters living in Chicago in 1937 and it's important for a number of reasons: 1) It serves as a substitute city directory, filling in the gap between census years. (The last of the early Chicago city directories was published in 1928/1929.) 2) It lists people of the same surname living in the same house and can suggest family groupings. 3) It provides addresses. These records can be accessed online from a family history center or FamilySearch affiliate library by folowing this path: FamilySearch > Search > Search by Title ("lurie") > Select correct title Once the catalog entry loads, use the guide names to select the c

Celebrating Digital Access: Chicago Delayed Birth Index

Today I'll focus on the  Chicago Delayed Birth Index  that's newly available in digital format through the  FamilySearch  Catalog. You can view the index images if you visit a family history center or FamilySearch affiliate library; you won't be able to view the images from home. And, you may be able to find the matching records online, too. First, a little bit of background. For those of you who are unfamiliar with delayed birth registration, it was a way of creating a civil birth record, sometimes long after the birth, when an original wasn't filed at the time of the event. It's particularly relevant to Chicago research because many early births went unreported. Many of the entries in this index are for records that were recorded in the 1940s. Why? One reason might have been that people who were going to work for the war effort needed to be able to prove their citizenship. [1] So, when should you use this index? Checking this index is a good next step

Celebrating Digital Access: Chicago Death Index, 1871-1933

Sample Image from the Chicago Death Index, 1871-1933 [1] Over the next few weeks, I'll be highlighting Chicago sources that are newly-available in digital format through FamilySearch's Catalog. First up is a multi-volume set titled [deep breath] Indexes to deaths in the city of Chicago during the years 1871 to 1933 : showing name, address and date of death . I just call it "the Chicago death index, 1871-1933" or "the CDI" for short. One thing you should know about it right up front is that the title is a bit misleading. It mostly lists Chicago deaths, but it also includes some out-of-town deaths--entries for people who died outside the city but were probably brought to Chicago for burial. 1) When you're looking for deaths 1871-1877. As far as I know, this is the only public index that covers the early deaths. If you find a match, contact the Cook County clerk's office. My husband's ancestor appears and I was able to get the matching de

Which Chicago Vital Records are Available on FamilySearch?

Visit a Family History Center to access the Chicago and Cook County vital records. Find your local FHC here . In the days to come, I'll be exploring the Chicago vital records that are newly available on FamilySearch  (to those who visit a family history center or a FamilySearch affiliate library) and, in preparation for that, I felt like I needed to see what was there. So, I made the list that you'll find below. And, if you'd like a copy for reference, you can download/print from here . Here are a few quick observations: All of the birth records  on microfilm have been digitized and made available for viewing except for three Cook County birth registers (which in most cases aren't needed anyway). Marriage licenses look to be complete, 1871-1941. (Great news, right?!)  I was surprised to see the Chicago death certificates , 1916-1945, haven't been made available but I'm thrilled to see the earlier records. Now that the coroner's death cer

Some Chicago Vital Record Images Online at FHCs

I'm SO excited to share this news!  I was searching the FHL catalog this evening, opened the entry for Chicago Death Certificates, 1878-1915 , clicked the camera icon, and got a message that the images were only viewable at a family history center or a FamilySearch affiliate library. So, I did what anyone who is married to a family history center director would do. I said, "We need to go take a look!"  Sure enough, the images for these records are available online again--just not from home. And so are a LOT of other wonderful Chicago records-- early birth certificates and coroner's certificates, to name a few. I'll be blogging about the specifics in the days to come but at quick glance, the strategy for accessing them seems to be to this: 1) Find the name in the Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1994 index on FamilySearch and note the film number, the digital folder number , and the image number . In this case it's 1030909, 004004149, and 00984. (This wor

Celebrating FamilySearch's Digital Access: New Blog Post Series

Single microfilm shipment. I'm going to miss these little boxes! Yesterday was the final day to order FamilySearch microfilms and I'll have to admit, I felt unsettled. Last chance. Last chance! I kept wondering if there were any films that I was going to really, really wish I could view at my local Family History Center months down the road. And, you know what? I don't think so. A couple of weeks ago I scrambled to order a reel with records from Maine because they weren't online. They will have to be read page by page and it's something I don't want to ask anyone to do for me. Yesterday, taking one last look in the Family History Library Catalog to see if I'd missed anything I should order, I noticed the images are now available on FamilySearch . As much as I love microfilm--and I really do--it's time to embrace the new system. In celebration of the the end of an era--and the beginning of another--I've decided to write a series of blog

IRAD at NEIU: Collections for Chicago Research

I'm an administrator for an active Chicago Genealogy Facebook group  and with so many indexes for records online now, one question that's asked over and over is, "How can I get [fill in the name of a record type here]." Recently, someone asked about a marriage license from 1891 and my first thought was that the record could be obtained from FamilySearch microfilm at the Wilmette Illinois Family History Center or the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. It's less expensive than getting records directly from the county, and if a researcher can't go in person, there are plenty of local researchers who offer document retrieval services at those places for a reasonable fee. But then I remembered there's another great option for getting early Cook County marriage licenses that is likely often overlooked--the Illinois Regional Archives Depository at Northeastern Illinois University, better known as IRAD at NEIU . Their holdings include Cook County marr

Last Chance to Add Films to the Wilmette FHC Collection

Other than the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, the Wilmette Family History Center is THE place to go to research early Chicago and Cook County vital records. They have complete collections of births to 1915, marriages to 1916, and deaths to 1947 on microfilm and anyone can use the films free of charge. What they don't have is all of the available films for births 1916-1922, marriages 1917-1920, and Cook County deaths outside the city of Chicago up through 1947, and when FamilySearch stops circulating films on 31 August 2017, they will no longer have a way to add to their collection. Last count, Wilmette needed about 600 films to complete their vital records sets and the good news is FamilySearch appears to be running a sale on extended loan films. For $7.50 (1/3 the normal price) one of those films can now be added to the collection. If you live within driving distance of Wilmette and research Chicago families, it would be to your benefit to help complete the

Take a Few Minutes and Backup Your Facebook Posts!

Screenshot of Facebook's archive download page. I view Facebook as a modern equivalent of the sentence-or-two-a-day journals that my great-great grandmother kept in the late 1800s and early 1900s and I use it as an enjoyable way to regularly record my day-to-day life experiences. As trivial as my posts might be (I write way too much about banjo practice), they are very important to me and, aspiring family historian that I am, I hope they will someday be important to the people I leave behind. This morning, Facebook reminded me that I've had an account for ten years and that got me thinking: I would be so sad to accidentally lose access to that decade of my life. So, I took thirty seconds to Google how to backup Facebook posts and it's so ridiculously simple, I've  decided everyone should do it. :) Here's how: 1. Log in. 2. Click on the down arrow in the top right corner of the screen and choose "Settings." 3. You should be on the "Ge

Cook County Records of Foreign Wills

Franziska Lux entry, Cook County Probate Court, "Record of Foreign Wills," v. 1, p. 619. I can think of a number of times when I've sat, looking at a newly-discovered set of genealogy records, thinking, "Oh, wow!" but I had no idea that this morning would be one of them. I've spent the month of April working hard to update the pages on chicagogenealogy.com and in the process, I had reason to examine the Illinois, Wills and Probate Records, 1772-1999 collection on Ancestry.com. Earlier this week, I noticed it included some "Records of Foreign Wills." I was intrigued, so I took a quick look. A 1901 legal guide defines "foreign will" as  “…executed in a state or country by a testator there domiciled, admitted to probate there upon the death of such testator, and subsequently offered for probate or registry in another state.” 1 That seems to fit. Simply put, the books appear to have been used to record wills that had a tie