Guide to Jewish Genealogy in Chicagoland

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Vital Records


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The following four cemeteries have over 60% of the Jewish burials in Chicagoland:

Waldheim (Forest Park): 150,000 burials from 1860s-present
Westlawn (Chicago): 48,000 burials from 1937-present
Silverman & Weiss (Forest Park): 26,000 from 1888-present
Free Sons (Forest Park): estimated 12,000 burials from late 1800s-present

The oldest cemeteries in Chicagoland are:

Hebrew Benevolent Society: 1500 burials from 1854-2001
Jewish Graceland: 5000 burials from 1857-2000            
Rosehill: estimated 10,000 Jewish burials from 1860s-present
Waldheim, Silverman & Weiss, Free Sons: shown above  is a commercial website which has digitized photos of grave from a number of cemeteries. Currently, there are about 135,000 headstone images from Chicago area Jewish cemeteries. 
Chicago area:

Waldheim - 105,224*
Rosemont/Mt. Zion - 10,611
Rosehill - 10,978
Memorial Park, Skokie - 6102
New Light, Lincolnwood - 1,609
Westlawn - 2,634

It is offered a no cost to member if the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois.

Complete list of Jewish cemeteries

We have also compiled an alphabetical list of all organizations and Congregations which have sections at one of the Jewish cemeteries in Chicagoland. By accessing this list you can determine which cemetery has the section you are interested in finding. This list can be found at:

Organizational Cemetery Sections

Funeral Homes

Three funeral home companies exist today which have historical records. Their records may include address of deceased, next of kin including address, phone number, burial plot location, Social Security number of the deceased, clergy, ...      
Piser Chapels: records from 1900 holding files of former Original Weinsteins, Hartman-Miller, Gratch-Mandel, Albert & Jaffe, and J. (Jacob) Weinstein.

Weinstein Family Services: records from 1894 holding files of former  Weinstein Bros., Palmer-Lauer, and Robert A. Weinstein. 

Furth & Company: records from 1930s

Death Records including Certificates/Notices/Obituaries

Death certificates were not required by law in Illinois until after 1916. Some records do exist, however, going back as far as the great Chicago Fire in 1871.  

Earliest (1871-1950): 

Illinois State Death Index: 1871-1950 (on-line)    
Family History Center (FHC) Wilmette: Certificates 1878-1947 (over half)
Newberry Library: Illinois death index 1916-1947
Illinois Regional Archives Depository: Indexes
Illinois Regional Archives Depository: Cook County Coroner's Inquest
         Record Index 1872-1911
Illinois Regional Archives Depository: Chicago Police Department
         Homocide Index 1870-1930

Modern (1940-present): 

Chicago Tribune Historical Archive (on-line at local libraries)
Social Security Death Index (SSDI): 1962-present
Proquest: 1985-present (on-line via local libraries)
Chicago Tribune Online: 1985-present
Chicago Obituary Database: 1994-1998 (via Jewishgen)
Chicago Sun Times Online : 2001-present

All Years: 

Cook County Vital Records (1871-present)
Newspaper microfilms (1849-present)
Chicago Public Library (Harold Washington): all newspapers
Chicago Historical Society, Newberry Library: some
Schaumburg, Arlington Heights Libraries: Chicago Tribune (1849-present)

Joe Beine maintains an index of Cook County Records on his website

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Illinois Statewide Marriage Index: 1763-1900 (on-line)
Sinai Congregation Marriages 1861-1905 (via Jewishgen)
Cook County Clerk's Office (1871-present)
Family History Center (FHC) Wilmette  Indexes 1871-1915, licenses 1871-1916 (incomplete)

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Cook County Vital Records: (1871-present)

Family History Center (FHC) Wilmette:

Birth Register 1871-1915
Birth Certificates 1871-1915 (some)
Birth Record Index 1871-1916
Chicago delayed birth index

Illinois Regional Archives Depository: Indexes 

Newberry Library: Indexes

Church of Latter-Day Saints: Birth Certificates (1878-1922) & Registers (1871-1915)         




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Guide to Jewish Genealogy in Chicagoland 
Copyright 2004-2014 by Mike Karsen

Last update:19 July 2014