Cook County Genealogy
The Genealogy Unit of the Cook County Clerk's Bureau of Vital Records provides non-certified versions of birth, death and marriage records for the purpose of genealogical research. Records found on this site are for Chicago and Cook County dating back to 1872.
This historical record database is an exciting endeavor for the Clerk’s office. More than 6 million of the 8 million genealogy records are already searchable. And we will continue to add more as we bring our database up to date.
It was not mandatory in the State of Illinois for records to be filed with the County Clerk until January 1, 1916. It is possible that a birth or death occurred and no records were officially filed with the County Clerk’s office. However, if a record were filed prior to 1916, it would have been filed in the county where the event occurred.
There are eight million genealogy records in the Cook County Bureau of Vital Records. Records are added to the database frequently. If your record does not appear, check back again.
Please note, the Chicago Fire of October 8, 1871 destroyed all Cook County vital records prior to that date. After some rebuilding, record keeping resumed in 1872.
Under Illinois law, genealogical vital records are defined as:
- Birth certificates that are 75 years or older (before today's date in 1941);
- Marriage certificates that are 50 years or older (before today's date in 1966);
- Death certificates that are 20 years or older (before today's date in 1996).