Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Cook County Illinois Death Certificates, 1878 - 1922
With a mind not quite ready to return to anything more taxing that rote copywork, I realized I hadn't done any indexing for a while, so I turned to FamilySearch.org to see what simple project I could dispatch. As incredible as it may seem, given the current circumstances, my eyes lit on the Cook County, Illinois, Death Certificates for the years 1878 through 1922.
Yeah. Because, Cook County = Chicago. I can do this.
I can defend my choice. The city and the years align nicely with my father-in-law's family history. The added bonus—in the midst of a month all a-flurry with announcements of free access to Irish genealogical documents—is that a good many of those certificates I indexed last night belonged to Irish immigrants who settled (where else?) in Chicago.
While some documents, in the digitizing process, result in blurry, near-illegible copy, for the most part they will result in a collection of great help to those researching their Chicago families. Unlike the city's death certificates of the era—containing little more than the name of decedent, residence address, and date of death—these documents are actually from the "Undertaker's Certificate and Record of Death." These records include quite a bit more information than the usual Chicago fare—gems like father's and mother's names (including her maiden name) and each person's place of birth.
While later death certificates from around the country include such details with monotonous regularity, the aggravating thing about the City of Chicago's death certificates from the same time period as I indexed last night—the year 1911—is that they don't include this wealth of information.
I can hardly wait to see the collection indexed completely and available online. I have a long list of unsolved family mysteries among my list of Chicago ancestors that I would like to look up here. I have a feeling I'll be returning to this same collection to do a lot more indexing work. Sometimes we have to hurry along that research serendipity, ourselves.
Above: "Morning in a Pine Forest," 1886 oil on canvas by Russian landscape painter Ivan Shishkin; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.