How to Find Chicago Death Certificates

The Chicago Fire of October 1871 destroyed the county's vital records. There are no death certificates available before that date.

For deaths 1871-1877, search the Indexes to deaths in the city of Chicago during the years 1871 to 1933: showing name, address and date of death. It's available on FamilySearch microfilm or I can check it for you if you submit a request using my Chicago Death Index, 1871-1933 request form on Genlighten.com.

If you find a match up through 1877, contact the Cook County Clerk's office to see if they can provide information from a death register. I was able to obtain a transcription for an 1875 death using that approach.

If you don't find a match, try checking alternate sources of information such as those listed below.

Obituaries and Death Notices

Historical Newspapers, Birth, Marriage, & Death Announcements, 1851-2003 available at Ancestry.com. Includes the Chicago Tribune, 1850-1985.

Chicago Marriage and Death Indexes, 1833-1871 Subscription database available at Ancestry.com. This index is called "Sam Fink's Index" (more information available in this blog post) and it is also available on FHL microfilm 1321939.

It covers the following newspapers: Chicago Tribune, Chicago Evening Journal, Chicago Democrat, Chicago Evening Post, Chicago Record-Herald, Chicago Daily News, Chicago Examiner, and the Inter-Ocean.

If you find a match in the index, the key to the newspaper symbols can be found in the blog post mentioned above and the corresponding newspapers (other than the Chicago Tribune which is online) are available at places like the Harold Washington Library in Chicago and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum in Springfield.

Chicago Tribune, 1849-1923 Subscription database available from Fold3.com. (If you don't have a subscription, you can use the site for free at Family History Centers.)

Burial Records—Catholic

Browse Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic parish records online at FamilySearch. Early burial records are available for the following parishes:

Holy Family,1863-1899
Notre Dame, 1865-1883
St Francis of Assisi's Church, 1853-1877
St Joseph's Church, 1856-1915
St Michael's Church, 1866-1915
St Peter's Church, 1860-1900

If you'd rather use the microfilm, check the Family History Library Catalog to see what's available. Do a place search for "Chicago" and then select "Church Records."

Burial Records—Other Denominations

For burial records from other denominations, check the Newberry Library's Guide to Chicago Church and Synagogue Records.

Cemetery records

See also: http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/223.html

The Chicago Genealogical Society's publication Chicago Cemetery Records 1847-1863: sexton's reports and certificates, treasurer receipts, deeds, and undertakers' reports is great resource for information about early deaths. To learn more about the book, check out my blog post.

The cemeteries below (shown with their 1871 locations) were listed in the 1871 Chicago city directory. Contact the current offices to see if records are available.

Anshe Mayrev
One mile north of city limits on Green a road

Cemetery of the Congregation of the Sons of Peace
One and a half miles north of city cemtery, near the lake [Polish]

Cemetery of the Hebrew Benevolent Society
Adjoining the Cemetery of the Congregation of the Sons of Peace

Chebra Kadisha Ubikarcholm
Two miles north of city limits, on Green Bay road These four cemeteries are now known as "Jewish Graceland." Records may be available from 1855 forward. (See Development, Decline and Renewal of Old Jewish Cemetery)

Calvary Cemetery
Ten miles north of the city on the Chicago and Milwaukee R.R.
Calvary Interment records, 1900-1987 availalable on FHL microfim. Contact the cemetery for earlier records.

Catholic
On North Side, between Schiller street and North avenue (probably associated with City Cemetery)

German Catholic Cemetery
Three miles from the city limits, on Green Bay road
St Boniface Interment records, 1864-1987 are available on FHL microfilm.
St Henry Interment records, 1864-1987 are available on FHL microfilm.

City Cemetery (also known as "Milliman Tract")
North avenue to Lincoln park, between North Clark and the lake.
The city ordered this cemetery vacated in 1865 and the lot owners who could be contacted were allowed to choose new lots in Rosehill, Oak Woods, Calvary, and Graceland.

Graceland
Two miles north of city, on Green Bay road
Cemetery records from first record book of Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois, 1860-1866
are available on FHL microfilm.

German Lutheran Cemetery (of the St Paul's and St Emanuel's churches)
South of Graceland
Wunder's Cemetery records, ca. 1867-1930. No circulation to Family History Center. Records also available at the Newberry Library.

Oak Woods

Rosehill
Four miles north of the city, on the Chicago and Milwaukee R.R.

Start by checking one of the free indexes at FamilySearch: Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1922 index and/or Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947. There's some overlap and if you're looking for a record from 1916 forward, I'd suggest starting with the later index.

If you find a match there, I can retrieve the record for you for $6 if you submit a Cook County Death Certificate, 1878-1947 request through Genlighten.com. You can also obtain a copy of the record from Family History Library microfilm or directly from the Cook County Clerk's Office.

If you don't find a match for the certificate you're looking for, check the indexes available on the Illinois Secretary of State's website: Pre-1916 Illinois Statewide Death Index and/or Illinois Death Certificates Database, 1916-1950. They can also be accessed using Stephen Morse's One-Step approach for Pre-1916 and 1916-1950 records. His site makes it possible to search using the first few letters of a surname or given name and to filter by year. You can also filter by age in the early index, but using the "age at death" field for the 1916-1950 searches is likely to limit your results in a negative way.

Other indexes include Ancestry.com's Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 and the Cook County Clerk's CookCountyGenealogy.com. Both of these indexes give you the option of purchasing the certificates through the county, but up through 1947, the records can be obtained from microfilm for a considerable cost savings. If you want to locate the records yourself, see the "Searching Films" tab for the next steps.

Alternate Search Strategies

If you're not not able to find a matching entry there, try the suggestions below.

(1) For deaths up through 1904, check the Coroner's Inquest Index, 1872-1911. If a name is there and the death was 1904 or earlier, then the person will have a coroner's death certificate instead of a "regular" one. As of this writing (Apr 2013) Coroners death certificates, 1879-1904 are not included in the indexes on FamilySearch but they do appear in the Pre-1916 Statewide Death Index.

(2) Check the Indexes to deaths in the city of Chicago during the years 1871 to 1933 : showing name, address and date of death or ask me to do it for you. Despite its title, this index includes out-of-town deaths (OT), a common reason why a death doesn't appear in the online index, and stillbirths (SB).
If you find a match in this index, you can use the information to obtain a copy of the record.

If you have access to the microfilms for Chicago and Cook County records, then you can locate the death certificates using the index entries that you've found. The Family History Library in Salt Lake has a complete collection and significant collections can also be found at the Wilmette Illinois Family History Center and in Springfield, Illinois.

Record Availability

Chicago certificates cover deaths in the city; Cook County certificates cover deaths outside the city. The chart below is a rough guide and it's especially difficult to summarize the Wilmette FHC holdings. Please call ahead to make sure they have the films you need if you're planning a visit.

RecordWilmette FHCIRAD NEIUState ArchivesFamily History Library
Chicago
1878-1922
AllNoneNoneAll
Cook
1878-1909
AllAllNoneAll
Chicago
1916-1947
AllCounty Hospital, 1944-1946AllAll
Cook
1916-1947
SomeNoneAllAll
Coroner's
1878-1904
AllNoneNoneAll
Out-of-town
1909-1915
AllNoneNoneAll
Stillbirths
1916-1947
FewNoneAllAll

If you're not local to Chicago, Springfield, or Salt Lake City you can order Family History Library microfilm but it's generally quicker and less expensive to have someone local get a copy of the record for you. I offer a $6 retrieval service (ask about discounts for multiple requests) through my Death Certificates, Chicago, 1878-1947 search offering on Genlighten.com and if you Google, you're likely to find others who can help, too.

If you are able to access the records on Family History Library microfilm, it's easy, but it's not always straightforward. Picking the right film can be a challenge unless you have the film number from a FamilySearch index. The paragraphs below will guide you through the process.

Index Entry from the FamilySearch Indexes
Locate the film mentioned in the index entry and scroll through to find the correct certificate number. The certificate number is usually identified with the prefix "cn." It is NOT the same as the image number. (If the index didn't provide the "cn" number, you can likely find it in the Illinois Statewide Index.)

Index Entry from the Illinois Statewide Death Indexes

It's best to find the matching index entry in a FamilySearch index to get the film number but you can also use the Family History Library catalog. Just be aware that you will need to drop off the "6" for Chicago certificate numbers (60004355 points to certificate #4355) and you might need to drop off the first few digits on the front of certificate numbers for places outside the city (5200642 points to certificate #642) in order to find the catalog match.

Index Entry from the "Indexes to deaths in the city of Chicago ..." Index

For deaths 1916-1933, the "register number" is the same as the "certificate number" or "state file number" found in the online indexes and it can be used to find the death certificate. Follow the instructions for finding records using the Illinois Statewide Death Index entries.

For deaths 1878-1915, with one exception explained below, the register numbers from this index can't be used to find certificates but they confirm that a record was created. Look for a matching entry in the FamilySearch or Illinois Statewide index. If you find a match, you can use that certificate number to locate the record.

If you can't find a match in an index, it is possible to "scroll through" a death certificate film to see if the record is there. Certificates before 1916 are grouped by first letter of the surname for each month/year on the death certificate films. Use the One Step index to find an entry for a death with the same first letter of surname in the same month and year and use that certificate number to choose the film. Locate the beginning of the entries for the right surname letter, month, and year and scroll through. (If you don't find the record, check to make sure it's not on the coroner's certificate film or the Cook County certificate film.)
It's more difficult to scroll through records after 1915 because they're arranged in the order that they were returned to the county. If a March death certificate was returned to the clerk's office in June, it would appear mixed in with the bulk of the June records.

It is possible to use the register number to find Chicago certificates, 1908-1915, if you choose a film from the right group of certificate films but use this approach only if you can't find the matching entry in the FamilySearch or Illinois Statewide indexes. For more information, click on the "Chicago Death Certificates, 1878-1915" tab on the right.

If you find a match labeled "OT" it is an out-of-town death and you will need to look for the record on the Out-of-town death certificate films or contact the place of death to see if they can provide a certificate.

For deaths 1871-1877, you will need to check with the Cook County Clerk's Office. See the "Before 1878" tab for more information.

Death certificates for 1948-1950 are indexed in the Illinois Statewide Death Index, 1916-1950 but they are not available on Family History Library microfilm. Death certificates after 1947 are also indexed in Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 at Ancestry.com and at cookcountygenealogy.com

Death certificates 20 years or older can be obtained online (downloadable images) from the Cook County's "Genealogy Online" Websitee for $15 each plus a small handling fee or they can be obtained through the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Death Records Available through FamilySearch

Cook County Death Index, 1871-1916

About this index
The Cook County Death Index, 1871-1916 is an alphabetical-by-surname index to deaths that occurred in Chicago and Cook County during those years. You can access it at places like the Wilmette FHC, IRAD at NEIU, and the Family History Library, but thanks to many hard-working volunteers, all of the entries on the microfiche index are now included in the online Pre-1916 Illinois Statewide Death Index.

Why search this index?
This index is generally not needed now that there are indexes online but you can use it to skim for names that you can't find in an online index. If you find a matching entry, you can use the identification number number to locate a Chicago or Cook County death certificate.

Information included in the index
deceased's name
deceased's age (not always given)
date of death
place of death (whether Chicago or Cook County)
identification number

Search tips

1) If you are having trouble finding a name in the pre-1916 Illinois Statewide Death Index, try Stephen Morse's One Step search page. It allows you to search using any combination fields such as first name (part or all), surname (part or all), city, county, age at death, year of death, volume, page, and certificate number.

2) If you can't find an entry in an online index, try skimming this microfiche index. It can be an effective way of picking up entries where the surname spelling is just a little bit off. It can also help you find spelling variations that might not otherwise come to mind.

3) If you can't find an entry in the online or microfiche index, try searching the Indexes to deaths in the city of Chicago during the years 1871 to 1933 : showing name, address and date of death. I have found a number of entries there that weren't in the online/microfiche index. This index provides a register number which can be used to search for later deaths, but it also provides a death date which can be used to scroll through certificate films for earlier deaths (see #4 below). This index is also useful because it includes entries for out-of-town deaths when the people were buried in Chicago and also includes some stillbirths.

4) If you have a death date for a pre-1916 death but can't find the name in the index, it is possible to skip that step and scroll through the death certificate film for that month/year/surname letter. I have had success with this approach a number of times.

Indexes to deaths in the city of Chicago during the years 1871 to 1933 : showing name, address and date of death

--

About this index
The title for this index is somewhat misleading because it includes entries for deaths that occurred inside and outside of Chicago, including out of state. It also includes some stillbirths.

Format
13 microfilm reels

Arrangement
Alphabetical

FHL Catalog
Catalog Entry

Why search this index?

1) Sometimes an address can help distinguish between two or more individuals with the same name who appear in the Cook County Death Index, 1871-1916 or the Illinois Statewide Death Index, 1916-1950;

2) The index lists individuals who died outside the city but are buried in Chicago. Sometimes this can help solve the mystery of why a person buried in a city cemetery doesn't appear in the Cook County Death Index. Local certificates for Out-of-town Deaths, 1909-1915 are available on 11 microfilms through Family History Centers.

3) Sometimes this index can lead to a death certificate for an individual who does not seem to appear in the Cook County or Statewide Death Indexes mentioned above. If you find an entry for a pre-1916 death in this index, but aren't able to find a certificate number in the online or microfiche index, it is worth scrolling thorough the certificate film for the surname letter/month/year. I have found a number of certificates in this way.

For pre-1916 death certificates, the register number in this index matches the number that is stamped on the death certificates but not the one that is handwritten. It is not useful in locating the pre-1916 death certificates on films that are arranged by the second, handwritten number, but it is useful in locating certificates if they fall on the "mixed" films from 1908-1915.

4) If you find an entry for a death record 1916-1933, the register is the same as the certificate number that you'd find in the Illinois Statewide Death Index and it can be used to find the certificate on Family History Library films.

5) If you find an entry for a Chicago death before 1878, the Cook County Clerk's Office can most likely provide you with death information transcribed from a death register. (I have a copy of an 1874 death that I obtained that way.)

Information included in the index
name of the individual
date of death
address where the death occurred (for Chicago deaths) or city, state (for out-of-town deaths)
various coded notations, for example "OT" means "out of town"; "SB" means ""stillbirth"; I believe the other codes in front of pre-1916 entries refer to register books
a register or certificate number (to the right of the death date)

--

Index to Deaths Mentioned in Chicago Newspapers, 1856-1889
(Sam Fink's Index)

About this index

This index, also called "Sam Fink's Index," is an index to marriages and deaths that were mentioned in early Chicago newspapers. The marriage index covers 1833-1871 and is available as part of the Illinois Statewide Marriage Index. The death index has four sections (1859-1874, 1875-1879, 1880-1884, and 1885-1889) and is available on FHL Film #1321939. The index is also available on Ancestry.com.

Newspapers covered include the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Evening Journal, Chicago Democrat, Chicago Evening Post, Chicago Record-Herald, Chicago Daily News, Chicago Examiner, Inter-Ocean, and Democratic Press.

Why search this index?

If you find an entry in this index, you can pursue the newspaper death notice/obituary and/or a death certificate. It's an especially useful tool to use when looking for evidence of deaths that occurred before the Chicago Fire of 1871.

Information included in the index

deceased's name
newspaper date
code for title of
newspaper (see below)

Search tips
The newspaper codes used in the index are as follows:

Chicago Tribune *
Chicago Times %
Chicago Evening Journal $
Chicago Democrat #
Chicago Democratic Press #
Chicago Evening Post ?
Chicago Record-Herald "
Chicago Daily News @
Chicago Examiner ¢
The Inter-Ocean :

How to Find the Newspapers

If you live in the Chicago area you can visit one of the local repositories.

If you're in Springfield, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library has a large newspaper collection with titles from all over the state.

Also check the Illinois Newspaper Project database to see which newspapers are available at which repositories.

If you don't live near Chicago, some of the newspapers can be found online or you might be able to get them through interlibrary loan. Sites to check are ProQuest's Chicago Tribune Historical Archives (this may be available remotely through your local library), Ancestry.com (Historical Newspapers, Birth, Marriage, & Death Announcements, 1851-2003), GenealogyBank.com (offers a number of Chicago titles including the Inter-Ocean), and Fold3.com (has the Chicago Tribune up through 1923).

Chicago Death Certificates, 1878-1915

-- About these records

Chicago death certificates for 1878-1915 are available on 655 microfilms, all of which can be requested through any Family History Center. Unlike the later death certificates, the forms did not ask for parent or spouse names, but these records almost always give an approximate age, place of death, cause of death and cemetery name.

Indexing
The early Chicago death certificates are indexed online in the Pre-1916 Illinois Statewide Death Index, on microfiche in the Cook County Death Index, 1871-1916, and on microfilm in the Index to Deaths in Chicago, 1871-1933. Check either of the first two indexes first. Then check the third if you are unable to find an entry in the first two, or if you think the individual died out of town or was stillborn.

Format
655 microfilm reels

Arrangement
Numerical by certificate number; a single year may have 1-4 repeating groups of certificate numbers and there are two arrangements for certificates from 1908-1915 depending on which group you are looking at; for more information, see below

FHL Catalog
View Entry

Missing certificates
Sometimes certificates are missing on the films, and these gaps are often indicated by small slips of paper which say "Missing #__ to #__ . The missing certificates usually fall at the end of a surname letter for a month (for example "S" certificates end, then the missing note appears, then the "T" certificates begin) and many of them seem to have been associated with coroner's inquests.

If you find that a certificate that is missing, the name will likely appear in the Cook County Coroner's Inquest Record Index, 1872-1911 and if it does, you can request the inquest record from IRAD.
Cook County coroner's death certificates, 1879-1904 are available on microfilm through the FHL system.

Information generally included on certificates
This information is provided as a guide; there may be exceptions to what I have noted. Also, even though there may be a space on a certificate for information, it may not have been recorded. This is especially true of birth places and parent names.

1878-1903
name
sex and race
age in years, months, days
occupation
date of death
marital status
nationality and place where born (usually a state or country)
how long a resident in the state
place of death (street address and ward)
cause of death
duration of disease
place of burial
name of undertaker

1904-1909
all of the information above
father's birthplace (usually a state or country)
mother's birthplace (usually a state or country)
number of years in Chicago

1910-1915
all of the information above
name and birthplace of father (usually a state or country)
maiden name and birthplace of mother (usually a state or country)
informant's name and address

1916 forward
all of the information above
name of spouse

Tips for locating death certificates on the microfilms
(1) Sometimes certificates were filmed out of order. If you find a gap without a "missing note," especially if it is for just one certificate, scroll forward and backward to see if it is out of sequence.

(2) If there are two or more numbers on top of the certificates you are looking at, the one you will want will likely be the hand-written one on the top right corner.

The first reel of film begins with "T" surname certificates for July. If you find an entry in the index for a certificate before that letter/month, you can request the record from Cook County.

Selecting the right film
This information is provided as a guide and you will find occasional exceptions to these "rules." Order films at your own risk!

From 1878-1907, the general rule is this: if there are two groups of repearing certificate numbers, the first is usually for Jan-Jun and the second is usually for Jul-Dec. If there is a small third group, it is likely to include December deaths.

From 1908-1915 there are three or four groups of certificates. In two or three of the groups, certificates are arranged by a handwritten certificate number and you will notice that "A" certificates for January, are followed by "A" certificates for February, etc. The records on these films are arranged by the certificate number that you can get from the online or microfiche index. The third or fourth groups are arranged by a stamped certificate number, and different letters of the alphabet are interfiled within months. The records on these films are arranged by the register number that you can get from the Chicago Death Index, 1871-1933 microfilm index.

The general rules for finding certificates between 1908 and 1915 are as follows:

If you found the certificate number in the online or microfiche index, check the arranged-by-certificate-number film first. Most of the time you will find the certificate there. If not, then check the arranged-by-register-number film.

If you found the certificate number for a 1908-1915 certificate on the microfilm index and there was no register letter or number in front of the death date, look for the certificate on the arranged-by-register-number film. There may also be a death certificate on the arranged-by-certificate-number film and you can find it by checking the other indexes for a handwritten certificate number or by scrolling through the right year/month/alphabetical section of a film.

In one test case, the certificate from the arranged-by-certificate-number film seems to be an original and is stamped with an Illinois State Board of Health "recorded" stamp; the certificate from the arranged-by-register-number film appears to be a copy in neat handwriting and it has no Board of Health stamp.

If you found the certificate number for a certificate before 1908 on the microfilm index and there was a register letter or number before the death date in the index, you are unlikely to be able to use that number to find the certificate on the films. You can (1) check the online or fiche index for the handwritten number or (2) look for the certificate by scrolling through the right year/month/alphabetical section of a film.

There are some idiosyncracies in the filming of certificates from 1908-1915 and the chart below will help you avoid being tripped up when the groups are not in logical order.

1908
Group 1: Jan-Jun, Arranged by certificate number
Group 2: Jul-Dec, Arranged by certificate number
Group 3: Jan-Dec, Arranged by register number

1909
Group 1: Jan-Jun, Arranged by certificate number
Group 2: Jul-Dec, Arranged by certificate number
Group 3: Jan-Dec, Arranged by register number

1910
Group 1: Jan-Dec, Arranged by register number
Group 2: Jan-Apr, Arranged by certificate number
Group 3: May-Aug, Arranged by certificate number
Group 4: Sep-Dec, Arranged by certificate number

1911
Group 1: Jan-Apr, Arranged by certificate number
Group 2: Jan-Dec, Arranged by register number
Group 3: May-Aug, Arranged by certificate number
Group 4: Sep-Dec, Arranged by certificate number

1912
Group 1: Jan-Apr, Arranged by certificate number
Group 2: May-Aug, Arranged by certificate number
Group 3: Sep-Dec, Arranged by certificate number
Group 4: Jan-Dec, Arranged by register number

1913
Group 1: Jan-Apr, Arranged by certificate number
Group 2: May-Aug, Arranged by certificate number
Group 3: Sep-Dec, Arranged by certificate number
Group 4: Jan-Dec, Arranged by register number

1914
Group 1: Jan-Apr, Arranged by certificate number
Group 2: May-Aug, Arranged by certificate number
Group 3: Sep-Dec, Arranged by certificate number
Group 4: Jan-Dec, Jan-Dec, Arranged by register number

1915
Group 1: Jan-Apr, Arranged by certificate number
Group 2: May-Aug, Arranged by certificate number
Group 3: Sep-Dec, Arranged by certificate number
Group 4: Jan-Dec, Arranged by register number --

Chicago Death Certificates, 1916-1947

About these records
Chicago death certificates for 1916-1945 and for 1946-1947 are arranged by certificate number within each year on 458 microfilms and 84 microfilms respectively, all of which can be requested through any Family History Center.

Indexing
These certificates are indexed in the Illinois Statewide Death Index, 1916-1950.

Format
458 microfilms and 84 microfilms

Arrangement
Numerically by certificate number

Search Tips
These certificates seem to be arranged in the order that they were returned. They not alphabetical or in strict chronological order by death date. If a certificate was returned long after the death it would be difficult to find it without the certificate number.

FHL Catalog
Chicago Death Certificates, 1916-1945
Illnois Death Certificates and Stillbirths (including Chicago), 1946-1947

Finding the right film
To determine which microfilm a certificate would appear on, you'll need the year of death and the certificate number, both available online in the Illinois Statewide Death Index, 1916-1950

If the certificate number begins with a "6" and some zeros drop off the "6" to find the correct certificate number and then match the number within the correct year in the films listed in the Family History Center Catalog.

Information that will be included on a post-1915 death certificate if the informant provided it

  •  Place where death occurred (street address or name of institution)
  •  Length of residence in city where death occurred
  •  How long in U.S. if of foreign birth
  •  Name and residence of deceased (includes city ward)
  •  Sex
  •  Color or race
  •  Marital status
  •  Name of spouse, if married, widowed or divorced
  •  Date of birth
  •  Age in years, months, days
  •  Trade, profession of kind of work done
  •  Industry or business in which work was done
  •  Date deceased last worked
  •  Total time in occupation
  •  Birthplace (city or town and state or country)
  •  Name and birthplace of father
  •  Name and birthplace of mother
  •  Informant's name and address
  •  Date and place of burial (cemetery name, location, county, and state)
  •  Name and address of undertaker
  •  Date of death
  •  Cause of death
  •  When the physician last saw the patient alive
  •  Whether or not an operation was performed, and if so, for what disease
  •  Whether or not there was an autopsy
  •  If a communicable disease, where contracted
  •  Whether the disease was related to the deseased's occupation
  •  Name and address of physician
--

Out-of-town Death Certificates, 1909-1915

About these records

These death certificates are for people who are buried in Chicago but died some place else—in another Illinois county or out-of-state. The records appear to be on whavever death certificate form was in use in Chicago in the year that the death occurred. To learn more about what information might have been recorded, view the Chicago Death Certificates, 1878-1915 entry above.

Some of the certificates appear to be original—they are written in the quick handwriting that I usually see on certificates and most of the information is filled in—but many of them appear to have been created from other records, probably by the same person. The handwriting is consistent. These records provide minimal information and have lines drawn through the spaces where no information was recorded.

Indexing

Register numbers for these certificates can be found in the Indexes to deaths in the city of Chicago during the years 1871 to 1933 : showing name, address and date of death. The entries in the index are indicated by an "OT" before the death date. For example, if a Frank Johnson died in 1925 in Oak Forest, the entry might look like this (OT code and register number highlighted): JOHNSON FRANK OAK FOREST ILL OT 3 15 25 12643 16

Format
11 microfilm reels

Arrangement
Certificates are arranged numerically by register number

FHL Catalog
View Entry

Cook County Coroner's Death Certificates, 1879-1904

-- Note: Copies of inquest records (different from coroner's death certificates) can be obtained from IRAD at NEIU if you have the index entry from the Coroner's Inquest Index, 1872-1911.

About these records
If a death was likely to have occurred from other than natural causes, a coroner's jury was called to investigate and a coroner's death certificate was created. Excellent information about coroner's inquests is available on the Cook County Coroner's Inquest Record Index, 1872-1911 pages (scroll down).

At one time, these certificates were probably filed with the "regular" certificates at the end of each alphabetical section for each month/year. If you look at the microfilm for Chicago Death Certificates, 1878-1915 you will see notes that say "Missing" with ranges of certificate numbers listed. These records are not missing. The certificate numbers refer to the coroner's death certificates filmed under this title.

Indexing
These records are indexed in the Illinois Statewide Death Index

Format
27 microfilm reels

Arrangement
Alphabetically by first letter of surname within months but the arrangement of months on the films is not always predictable. In some cases the records are filmed in reverse order and sometimes single records are so far out of place that it would be almost impossible to find them.

FHL Catalog
View Entry

Information generally found on the certificates
name
age, race, sex
nativity
occupation
marital status
date body was found
ward where found
place of death
date of death
jurors' verdict
Cook County death certificate number
cemetery name (often written in the margin)

Search tips

(1) A quick way of determining if an individual is likely to have had a coroner's death certificate instead of a "regular" death certificate is to search the Cook County Coroner's Inquest Record Index, 1972-1911 at the Illinois State Archives website. If you can't find a death certificate at FamilySearch, checking the inquest index is a good next step.

(2) Although the certificate number from the Pre-1916 Statewide Death Index is likely to appear on the coroner's certificate, it is not necessary to have it in order to locate a record on these films.

3) These certificates do not seem to be included in FamilySearch's Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1922 but they are available on Family History Library microfilm. (See link above.) If you live in the Chicago area, the Wilmette Family History Center has all of the reels.