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Showing posts from July, 2009

Happy Birthday, Lucy Theodate Holmes

One of the challenges in doing research in Chicago and Cook County is that many early births weren’t reported to the county clerk’s office. In other words, many people born in the late 1800s and early 1900s in Chicago didn’t have a birth certificate. Baptismal records are usually a first-choice option for proving a birth date when no birth certificate can be found, but United States passport applications are another good source of birth information. They can be found on Family History Library microfilm, but they have also been available for some time on Here’s an example from my own research of how helpful they can be. For a number of years I have been gathering information about the family of H. H. Holmes, one of the the subjects of Erik Larson’s best-selling book The Devil in the White City . Holmes and his wife Myrta Z. Belknap had a daughter named Lucy and I was interested in finding a birth record for her. I started the search based on a couple of sentences fro