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Illinois Residents: Consider Supporting a Bill to Make Coroner's Records Available for a Reasonable Fee

Just got an email from the Chicago Genealogical Society with information that's relevant to Chicago/Cook County genealogical researchers. In short, there's a bill coming up that would reduce the cost to obtain a coroner's inquest record from the current exorbitant fees (it can run hundreds of dollars to get a file) to an affordable rate. If you are an Illinois resident, consider voicing your opinion on the issue. Information about the bill can be found here: And, this form can be used to submit comments:
Recent posts

Legal Notices Can Lead to Deed Records on FamilySearch

The Cook County Recorder of Deeds doesn’t offer research services by mail (If that’s changed, please let me know!) so the general rule is that it’s necessary to go in person (or send someone on your behalf) in order to do property research. But, with a bit of newspaper digging and a good dose of genealogical luck, you might be able to find Cook County property transactions recorded in the digitized volumes that are available in the FamilySearch catalog under " Cook County, Illinois deed records, ca. 1872-1886 ." Check Newspapers For example, if your Chicago ancestor had property sold at public auction you may be able to find a legal notice published in local newspaper, much like this one for Thomas and Mary Ella Parker. Try searching newspapers for names along keywords like "trustee’s sale," "trust deed," "recorded" and "auction." I tried it using my Newspapers Publishers Extra subscription but there may be other ways to access

Our Lady of Sorrows Baptisms Recorded in Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Register

A few days ago I discovered baptisms from Our Lady of Sorrows (Sorrows) recorded in a register from Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Assumption). It isn’t a wildly important find, but it’s worth mentioning. The Assumption register begins with an alphabetical index to baptisms 1881-1888. [1] Following that, there are three more pages of index entries with a heading that reads "Baptizatorum In Ecclesia St. M. Dolorosae 1406 W. Jackson from 3d January 1875 to 26 July 1889." [2] This second index covers 111 Sorrows baptisms that were recorded on pages 201 to 228 of the Assumption register. [3] I haven’t compared all of the entries in the Assumption register with entries in the Sorrows register, but a quick check suggests the Assumption register contains a small subset of baptisms that are also in the Our Lady of Sorrows register. For example, the Assumption register has a single entry for 12 September 1875--the baptism of Rosam Antiquo. [4] The Sorrows register has

Cook County's Genealogy Online: Change in Ordering Process

Cook County Clerk,  Genealogy Online ( So, big news. First the Cook County Clerk's Genealogy Online  website moved to a new URL ( ) and now it's been changed in a significant way. It used to be that researchers could log into the website to search for births, marriages, and deaths. If a good match was found, the corresponding record could be purchased online and downloaded immediately. If not, it was possible to dig around the site to locate a hard-to-find pdf order form that could be mailed in to request a manual search. The new website simply provides a multi-screen form that visitors can fill out to request a vital records search. I'm ambivalent about the loss of the old search feature because, frankly, I almost never used it. I found it much more productive to search indexes on FamilySearch and/or Ancestry for the records I needed. If I found a match, I'd check to see if the reco

Close Look at Mount Carmel Registers

I'm a firm believer in taking the time to figure out a record set before diving in. Recently, I've been exploring the Mount Carmel Cemetery registers that are available on FamilySearch under the catalog title Interment Registers and Burial Logs, 1900-1955 . This blog post will summarize what I've learned and suggest possible ways that the registers might be used. The Four Types of Registers Interment Registers: Chronological list of burials providing date, name of deceased, burial location, age, date of death, residence address, cause of death, clergy name, and remarks. Burial Logs: Arranged chronologically with one page per day. Early registers list time, name, lot, location, box, and undertaker. Beginning in 1940, registers are titled "Funeral Order Register" and list time, deceased, description (lot, block, section), location, box, and notes. Name in "deceased" column may be lot owner. Relationship of deceased to lot owner may be indicated

Error in Naming the 1912-1942 Marriage Index

Screenshot from Ancestry's "Cook County, Illinois Marriage Indexes, 1912-1942 I am updating my website to reflect changes in record availability and, let me tell you, with Chicago research, knowing what's what is NEVER easy. Ancestry offers a database titled Cook County, Illinois Marriage Indexes, 1912-1942 . I did a quick study, searching for exact years from 1912-1925, and noted the number of matches below. It's likely this index only covers 1914-1923 in a reliable way. Some of the outlying entries may be correct. I find Thomas Kelly and Geneveve Carter listed in this index and in FamilySearch 's  Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871-1920 with the same year (1913) and license number. But some are due to error. Max Stone and Mabel Freed come up under 1912, but the printed index page that's linked from the index entry says 1917 and it's corroborated by the FamilySearch index. The fiche was scratched, making the date hard to read.

Have a Horrible Copy of a Chicago Vital Record from Microfilm? Try Again Online!

Back in the day, before many Chicago vital records were made available in digital format on FamilySearch ,  I retrieved hundreds--maybe even thousands--of Chicago birth, marriage, and death records from microfilm. Here's one of the records I printed long ago. I was really good at tweaking the settings and, I promise you, this is absolutely the best I could do. Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, death certificate no. 17017 (21 March 1908), Charles B. Smith; FHL microfilm 1239777; Wilmette Family History Center, Wilmette, Illinois. I don't remember why, but not too long ago I decided to look for the same record on FamilySearch and this is the image that I found: Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, death certificate no. 17087 (21 March 1908), Charles B. Smith; digital image, "Chicago death certificates, 1878-1915," FamilySearch ( : accessed 12 March 2019) > microfilm 1239777, digital folder 4004622 > image 84