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 Ancestry.com) 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
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
Will County Clerk
302 N. Chicago Street
Joliet IL 60432
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
The State of Illinois
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
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
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
Area Family History Centers
(Church of the Latter-Day Saints)
402 Longwood Drive
Chicago Heights, IL
(2 blocks west of Ashland Avenue
& 2 blocks north of Joe Orr Road)
13150 South 88th Avenue
Orland Park, Illinois
655 Springfield Avenue
5200 S University Avenue
300 Wirth Rd (near Cline Ave.)
503 Burlington Beach Rd
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.