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Illinois: Local History & Genealogy Resource Guide

Vital Records

Based on the date of the vital event (birth, death, marriage, divorce), determine whether you are seeking a state, territory, county, or parish level record. If the record you are seeking has been digitized, you can access it online, through the projects described below. If it has not been digitized or if you need a certified copy, contact the appropriate state or county office to view the record.

Timeline of Vital Records

Birth Records
Death Records
  • County Level: 1838, varies by county, 1877- present for most counties.
  • State Level: 1916 to present, Illinois Dept. of Public Health
  • Illinois State Genealogical Society: Deaths from 1916-1947

Note: Some counties began recording births and deaths as early as 1838, and most counties have retained vital records since 1877. In 1916 registrars received incentives for filing at state and county levels.

Also Note: Delayed birth certificates can be filed before the child reaches 7 years of age. After the age of 7 years, persons can file a delayed birth certificate for a fee, with supporting documents.

Marriage Records
  • State Level: 1763-1900, Illinois State Archives.
  • County Level: 1852-1854, 1885 to present

Note: Illinois Dept. of Public Health will verify marriage records from 1962 - present with certificates from the counties.

Divorce Records
  • State Level: 1763-1900, Clerk of the Circuit Court
  • State Level: 1763-1900, Illinois State Archives
  • County Level: 1804 to present

Note: Look for divorce records with the Circuit Court Clerk in each county. Illinois General Assembly considered some divorce petitions from the territorial period through 1837. The Illinois Public Health Dept. has an index and can verify divorce records from 1961 - present.

Online Resources for Vital Records

The subscription resources marked with a padlock are available to researchers on-site at the Library of Congress. If you are unable to visit the Library, you may be able to access these resources through your local public or academic library.

Using Ancestry Library Edition for Illinois

Begin your search through Ancestry's vast collections, by viewing the list designated as Illinois records External.

Using FamilySearch for Illinois

FamilySearch provides useful state and county wikis that make excellent starting points for research. The Illinois Wiki External includes links to each of its 102 counties.

FamilySearch has digitized many of its microfilms containing county courthouse records including birth, death, and marriage. Not all records have been indexed yet, so search engine results may NOT show you the full range of FamilySearch data. You must browse the FamilySearch catalog External listings for each county to view the full set of records available. The vast amount of accessible original records is well worth your time to explore.

There is no fee to use FamilySearch, but you must create a free, personal account to access the databases and digital records.

Obtaining Copies of Vital Records

Contact the Illinois Department of Public Health to learn more about accessing state-level records and explore additional options for obtaining copies.

Published Vital Records

Below are selected print publications for statewide vital records. The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.

To locate additional published materials, go to the Print Resources section of this guide for search tips on locating published county courthouse records, abstracts, and indexes that may aide you in locating original records at the county level.