Images For Cook County, Illinois Birth, Marriage, Death Records etc. No Longer Available At; New Agreement Established Between FamilySearch And Cook County, IL; Description Of Change Provided By FamilySearch Included

Hi Everyone! LogoYikes!  I do have some bad news to relay to all of you, especially for those of you that have had a lot of focus on Cook County, IL Birth, Marriage and Death Records that were routinely available as images at FamilySearch.

It is with a heavy heart that I must relay to you that the images are no longer available through Family Search and the databases they showed at the FamilySearch site for Cook County, IL records.

You can still search by the surname for these records and then see a transcription-like description of the information contained in the record.  BUT THE IMAGE IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE TO VIEW FOR FREE FROM WITHIN FAMILYSEARCH!

Ann M., one of our frequent attendees at our program shared this with me.  I thought that can’t be true.  However, looking at the material I sadly saw that only the descriptive index item of information is available with no ability to see the image.

I did look at one of the text descriptions of one of the database files for Cook County, IL information.  FamilySearch, I give them credit for this, did provide an explanation and some guidelines on alternatives on what to do for the researcher who uses these records.

Here is a FamilySearch provided description of what transpired between FamilySearch and Cook County, IL that changed the availability of these fabulous images we all so loved.  The description from FamilySearch follows in Italics after the separator line:


Image Visibility

Due to the provisions and guidelines of a newly revised contract with Cook County,  FamilySearch has removed all images for Illinois, Cook County vital records from its historical records collections online; free indexes to the collections will remain.

As part of our new agreement, FamilySearch will receive an additional 4.7 million records for FamilySearch patrons from the over 9 million free indexed records in the Cook County collection. The following collections are affected by the change:

  • Illinois, Cook County Birth Certificates, 1878-1922
  • Illinois, Cook County Birth Registers, 1871-1915
  • Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1922
  • Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871-1920

Original images can be ordered or viewed through the following mediums.

1.  Microfilm and microfiche from the Family History Library are available via Online Film Ordering in most parts of the world. The film number is included in the source information found on the index of the record.  

2.  Illinois, Cook County web site  (pay site)

3.  Request a digital copy of items found in the Family History Library  catalog services from the Family History Library (photoduplication). Include source information found on the index of the record in your request.


There you go.  We enjoyed the images we had previously been able to access.  But alas, since Cook County, IL has a “paysite” for this information, it seems that it was only a matter of time until that permission was no longer granted to FamilySearch to allow the images to be posted and available for free from FamilySearch.

Your alternative might simply be to access the images for cost from the Cook County, IL paysite for this information.

I don’t think the pain of losing these images has set in with me at this time!

Granted, the indexed information is all there but it was so nice and helpful to be able to look at the image, especially when you know that so many transcription errors can exist from the original to the indexed item.  Other clues could also be garnered from the image for the various components of the records that might not have been included in the transcription process, such as a doctor’s name, a funeral home’s name, a church’s name.  These were often great clues to see in the image that were not extracted into the indexed item.

Oh well, we can’t cry over spilled milk! (Actually, I think we can for a little while, but then we have to move on!).

I wish I had better news to report to you.

But it is what it is!

Next time you access the Illinois, Cook County data at FamilySearch you will see no images.  Now you know why.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

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