Chicago Area/Cook County Research

SSGHS often receives questions regarding Chicago and Cook County research. Before contacting SSGHS, please check Chicago and Cook County Sources: A Genealogical and Historical Guide by Loretto Dennis Szucs (published by or its revised edition, Chicago and Cook County: A Guide to Research, also by Szucs.

Among the topics addressed are:

  • The availability of vital records
  • The impact of the Chicago Fire (1871) on vital records
  • Local sources for immigration and naturalization records
  • The availability of Chicago area newspapers


Vital Records

Cook/Will counties births, marriages and deaths are at the state or county level. Some marriages are on Illinois State Archives databases. Microfilmed vital records are listed in the catalog of the Family History Library (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). The State of Illinois did not begin keeping vital records until 1916. Will County records begin in 1877. Cook County records begin in 1871 (earlier records destroyed by the Chicago Fire). Information may be incomplete for these earlier years.

Cook County Building
118 N. Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60602
Vital Statistics, Randolph Street, Concourse
(312) 603-5656

Will County Clerk
Main Office
302 N. Chicago Street
Joliet IL 60432
(815) 740-4615


Census Records

SSGHS does have some federal census microfilm and some Illinois state census microfilm.
Census records for the entire United States are at any National Archives regional facility and many large libraries.

NARA Great Lakes Region
7358 South Pulaski Road
Chicago, Illinois 60629-5898
(773) 581-7816



The State of Illinois

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library



Other Places to Look For Obituaries or Other Announcements

An index to obituaries in The Times of Northwest Indiana (also known as the Hammond Times) for the years 1940-2014 are online through the Web site of:

Hammond Public Library
564 State Street
Hammond, IN

Since The Times publishes an Illinois edition, researchers may have success with this source.

Obituary indexes of the Gary, Ind., Post-Tribune, 1921 to the present:

Lake County (Indiana) Public Library
1919 W. 81st Avenue
Merrillville, IN

Early newspapers for Northwest Indiana and Joliet, IL carried news and columns from our coverage area.
Microfilms of Northwest Indiana papers may be found at the Lake County Public Library in Merrillville, Ind.; Porter County Public Library in Valparaiso, Ind. and at other Northwest Indiana libraries. Joliet newspapers are on microfilm at the Joliet Public Library.

Obituaries in the Chicago Heights Star since 1906 are indexed by the”

Chicago Heights Public Library
25 W. 15th Street
Chicago Heights, Illinois 60411
(708) 754-0323


Area Family History Centers

(Church of the Latter-Day Saints)

402 Longwood Drive
Chicago Heights, IL
(708) 756-1280
(2 blocks west of Ashland Avenue
& 2 blocks north of Joe Orr Road)


13150 South 88th Avenue
Orland Park, Illinois
(708) 361-5474


655 Springfield Avenue
Joliet, Illinois
(815) 725-8621


Hyde Park
5200 S University Avenue
Chicago, Illinois
(773) 493-1830


Griffith Indiana
300 Wirth Rd (near Cline Ave.)
Griffith, Indiana
(219) 838-8189


Valparaiso Indiana
503 Burlington Beach Rd
Valparaiso, Indiana
(219) 464-4411


Area Genealogical Societies

There are at least 20 genealogical societies in the Chicago area, including Cook County, collar counties and northwest Indiana

Several societies concentrate on a particular geographic area. A few of these include: Chicago Genealogical Society, North Suburban, DuPage, Fox Valley, Will/Grundy, Elgin, Zion, Tinley-Moraine and more.

Several societies have an ethnic focus, such as: Czech-Slovak, Scottish, Polish, Lithuanian and more.

For information on other Chicago area societies, or to find societies in Illinois and elsewhere, go to the website for the Federation of Genealogical Societies.