Guide to Jewish Genealogy in Chicagoland

Home ] Jewish Cemeteries ] Jewish Funeral Homes ] Jewish Organizations ] [ Local Government ] Private Organizations ] Jewish Locations (Beyond) ] Other Locations (Beyond) ] Alphabetical Index ] Illinois Cemeteries ]

Local Government

includes Public Libraries

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
Allen County Public Library

Arlington Heights Memorial Library

Chicago Board of Election Commissioners

Chicago Public Library
Circuit Court Clerk of Cook Count (Office of)
Cook County Assessor (Property records)

Cook County Clerk's Office

Cook County Vital Records

Illinois Department of Public Health
Illinois Newspaper Project
Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD)

Illinois State Archives

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

Office of the Circuit Court Clerk of Cook County

Schaumburg Township District Library

Skokie Public Library

Winnetka-Northfield Public Library

horizontal rule

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library

112 North Sixth Street
Springfield, IL 62701-1310
Phone: 800-610-2094 or 217-782-5764 (General number)
Phone: 217-524-6358 (Reference desk)
Phone 217-785-7941 (Newpapers: Jan Perone)
E-mail:  (Newspaper obituary requests)
E-mail: (General family research requests)

Description of Resources:

The Library's 4,900 newspaper titles are preserved on nearly 73,000 microfilm reels. As the mandated newspaper repository in Illinois, the Library holds titles from all 102 counties. Many of the newspapers date from the early and mid-nineteenth century, and more than 300 newspapers are currently received through subscription.

The Library's newspaper collection has been cataloged through the nationwide program funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Researchers may borrow newspapers on microfilm through interlibrary loan.  Researchers may also view the newspapers held by the library by city at: and entering the city.

Access to Records and Fees:

You can visit the library or the library will accept requests by mail. All search requests must include specific information for a search to be performed. Those specifics include the full name(s), exact date (day, month, and year), and exact location (city and county) of the occurrence. If such information is unavailable and you live in the continental United States, you may borrow newspaper microfilm on interlibrary loan through your local library to do your own research. Each search consists of looking for articles on one occurrence (obituary notice, birth announcement, marriage announcement, etc.) for one person.

Each letter must be accompanied by a self addressed, stamped, business sized envelope. Checks and money orders should be made payable to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. A response will be sent for successful and unsuccessful searches. Do not send a second letter until you have received a response to your first.

Illinois Residents:   There is no fee for Illinois residents but send your request should a self-addressed legal-sized stamped envelope. You will be billed for photocopying at 25 cents per page.

Non Illinois Residents:   A non refundable fee of $10.00 per search must accompany each search request.  

Make check or money order to Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. Mail requests to:

Reference Department
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
112 North Sixth Street
Springfield, IL 62701


horizontal rule

Allen County Public Library

Temporary Location (through 2006):
200 East Berry Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46801

Permanent Location:
900 Webster Street
PO Box 2270
Fort Wayne, IN 46801-2270
Phone: 260-421-1200
Phone: 260-421-1225 (Genealogy reference desk)
Fax: 260-421-1386

Description of Resources:

1. Passenger Arrival Lists:

Baltimore: Lists 1820-1909 
                Quarterly abstracts of lists 1820-69
Soundex 1820-97, 1833-66, 1897-1952

Boston: Lists 1820-1943 & Index 1848-91    

New Orleans: Lists 1820-1902  
        Quarterly abstracts of lists 1820-75  
        Indexes pre-1900, 1900-52  

New York: Lists 1820-1904  
   Indexes 1820-46, 1897-1902  
   Soundex index 1902-43    

Philadelphia: Lists 1800-1945 & Index 1800-1906  
         Soundex index 1883-1948    

Lists and/or indexes for 68 minor ports 1820-1954  
Index to misc. Atlantic and Gulf coast ports 1820-74  
Index to AL, FL, GA, and SC lists 1890-1924  

Soundex to Canadian border entries, St. Albans, VT district, 1895-1924 and 1924-52; with partial manifests 1924-49    

Filby’s Passenger and Immigration Lists Index. 
German immigrants…from Bremen to New York 1847-1867.  
Germans to America 1850-1893 (in progress)

2. Census Records:  


All 1790-1920 population schedules 
All available statewide indexes & soundexes 
All extant mortality schedules 1850-1880    


IL  1825, 30, 35, 45, 55, 65 
State censuses for CA, IA, KS, MI, MN, MS, MO, NE, NJ, NM, NY, OR, RI, WA, WI  

3. City Directories:  

4. Yizkor Books:
Over 100 in collection.

5. Jewish Collection:
Synagogue histories  
Jewish Historical Society Publications and their indexes  
American Jewish Histories  
Social histories of Jewish populations in states, cities and towns  
American Jewish Yearbook dating back to 1899  

6. Military Records:

World War I Draft registration cards for IL  
Korean Conflict Casualty File, 1950-57
Combat Area Casualties, Southeast Asia, 1957-86  
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Directory of Names  

7. PERSI Index of genealogy periodicals:

Access to Records and Fees:

By visiting the library.

horizontal rule

Arlington Heights Memorial Library

500 North Dunton Avenue  
Arlington Heights, IL  60004  
Phone: 847-392-0100
Fax: 847-506-2650  

Description of Resources:

1. Vital Records:

State of Illinois Death Index 1916-1947  
Pre-1900 Illinois Marriage Index    

2. Census Records:  

1870 IL Census Index (CD-ROM)
1880 Federal Census Index for Chicago  
1900 Federal Census for IL, IN, IA, KY, MI, OH and WI (no soundex)  
1910 Federal Census for IL, IN, IA, MI, OH and WI (no soundex)    

3. Passenger Arrival Lists:

Ship lists without indexes for the following ports:

Baltimore 1820-1891
Boston 1820-1891
New Orleans 1820-1875
New York 1820-1897
Philadelphia 1800-1882
Miscellaneous Atlantic and Gulf ports 1820-1873.    

4. Chicago City Directories:  

1839, 1843-1844, 1846-1917, 1923, 1928    

5. Chicago Newspapers:

Chicago Tribune 1860-present  
Paddock Publications (Daily Herald) 1901 to present    

6. Other:

1881 British Census  
1890 Veterans’ Schedules  
PERSI – The Periodical Source Index  

horizontal rule

Chicago Board of Election Commissioners

69 W. Washington Street-Suite 600
Chicago, IL 60602-3012
Phone: 312-269-7900
Phone: 312-269-7956
Phone: 312-269-7880

Description of Resources:

Chicago registrations:  1888-1892, 1935-2001  

Access to Records and Fees:

$1 per record by check payable to Board of Election Commissioners. Send name and year desired, and include whatever other information you have including address, name of spouse, and where born. They cannot do research for two months prior to any election and for one month following an election.

horizontal rule

Chicago Public Library

Harold Washington Library Center  
400 S. State Street  
Chicago, IL 60605 
Phone: 312-747-4300  


(genealogy resources)

Description of Resources: (Harold Washington)

1. Chicago Newspapers:

Chicago Tribune 1849-present  
Chicago Daily News 1875-1978 
Chicago Sun Times 1948-present
Chicago Sun
Chicago Daily Times 1929-1947
Chicago Herald American 1952-1969

2. City Directories and Telephone Books:

Chicago City Directories, 1839, 1843-1917, 1923, 1928/29.

Chicago Telephone Directories, 1878-1971 (1976-current in microfiche).

3. Federal and Illinois State Census:

U.S. Personal Name Census, Chicago, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, (1890 Census records were destroyed in a fire in Washington and are not available) 1900, 1910, and 1920 (1920 for all of Illinois).

SOUNDEX 1900 Population Schedule: Illinois

MIRACODE 1910 Population Schedule: Illinois

SOUNDEX 1920 Population Schedule: Illinois

4. Books of Chicago Jewish History:

Chicago Jewish Community Blue Book

Meites, H.L. History of the Jews of Chicago.  (Reprinted 1990, originally published in 1924 by Jewish Historical Society of Illinois).

The Sentinel History of Chicago Jewry 1911-1986. (Sentinel Publishing Co., 1986). 

5. Illinois County Histories:

6. Passenger Arrival Lists:

Passengers to America (Note: excerpted from selected volumes of The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 1847-1961). Call number CS68.P37 1977

San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists. Call number CS68.R37 1978

Ship Passenger Lists, 2 vols. Call number CS68.S53

Passenger and Immigration Lists Index. Call number CS68.F537

Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Baltimore, Maryland, 1833-1866, microfilm

Index to passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Baltimore, Maryland, 1820-1897, microfilm

Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, Massachusetts, 1848-1891, microfilm

Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1800-1906, microfilm

7. Other:

Neighborhood photo collections
Fire Insurance maps

Conrad Sulzer Regional  
4455 N. Lincoln Avenue  
Phone: 312-744-7616  

1. Neighborhood newspapers:

Rogers Park News followed by 
Rogers Park Life followed by
Rogers Park Edgewater News 

2. Chicago City Directories 1839, 1843-1917, 1923, 1928/29.

Woodson Regional  
9525 S. Halsted Street  
Phone: 312-747-6900  

horizontal rule

Cook County Assessor
(Property records) 

118 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60602
Phone: 312-443-7550
                    (find image/address of property)
Website: (find properties owned by owner's name)

Description of Resources:

The following possibilities exist:

A. To find an image of an existing property. 

     1. Click on link above (find image of property)

     2. Enter the address of property and get image of property as currently
          recorded by assessor. 

     3. Click on view image, then right click to copy or save image.

B. To find properties (& addresses) in Cook County (including Chicago)
         owned by an individual. Only property transactions after 
         1 January 1985 available online.

      1. Click on link above (find properties...)

      2. Click on grantor/grantee search

      3. Enter the individual's name (you can search by surname only also), hit search

      4. Click on a specific property

      5. Click on property description

      6. To get the address, write down 14 digit property description (PIN)

      7. Return to this webpage and click on link above (find image/address of property)

      8. Enter PIN where it says search by Property Index Number.

      9. The property address will appear. You can also view image of property.

C. To find information (records) about a property prior to 1 January 1985, 
             you need to go to the office.

     1.  Having the street address is not sufficient to start your search. Take the
             street address or Property Index Number (PIN) to the map department, 
             Room 434 (4th floor). The charge is $5 per description. The legal description
             is composed of the area-sub area-block-parcel.

     2.  Go to Recorder of Deeds office in Room 12o (1st floor). You will be directed
             down the stairs to the Tract Department. They will find the Tract book 
             for this property. Each property will have a history of transactions. 

     3. You can request a copy of the pages of the Tract book (25 cents per page)
             by going back to the stairs and going to the legal department and providing
             the Tract book number and page(s) to copy.

      4. Go back downstairs and give paid request to clerk and they will make copies.

      5. If you would like copies of the details of any transactions, the cost is $10.


horizontal rule

Cook County Clerk's Office

118 N. Clark, 312-603-7790 (downtown Chicago)

5600 W. Old Orchard Road, Room 149, 847-470-7233 (North suburbs/Skokie)

2121 Euclid Ave., Room 238, 847-818-2850 (Northwest suburbs/Rolling Meadows)

1311 Maybrook Square, Room 109, 708-865-6010 (West suburbs/Maywood)

16501 S. Kedzie Ave., Room 238, 708-974-6150 (South suburbs. Markham)

10220 S. 76th Ave., Room 238, 708-974-6150 (Southwest suburbs/Bridgeview)

Mailing Address:
Cook County Clerk David Orr
Bureau of Vital Statistics
Attn: Genealogy
P.O. Box 642570
Chicago, IL 60664-2570
Phone:  312-603-7790
Fax:  312-609-5294
Website: (to search and order online)

Description of Resources:

Contains records dating back to 1872. Birth records (over 75 years old), marriage records (over 50 years old), death records (over 20 years old) for Cook County are available for genealogical purposes.  These are not certified copies.  Marriage and more recent birth and death records can be provided if you are next of kin or have a financial interest.

The Bureau of Vital Statistics has announced that an online index to birth, marriage and death records are available online as of 3 July 2008. You will be able to search the index and possibly be able to view some records online. Records are being added as part of an ongoing process.  You are able to order the original document through the website. There is an additional fee of $1.75 for credit card orders.

Access to Records and Fees:

Mail requests to above mailing address and enclose:

1. Genealogical Request Form (obtain from website)
2. Check or money order payable to the Cook County Clerk (see below for fee)
3. A self-addressed stamped envelope

You can also go directly to one of the local office's to obtain records. Please call to check hours and to see if you wait for the records.

Document Cost w/o state file number Cost with state file number
Birth $15 $10
Marriage $15 $10
Death $15 $10

horizontal rule

Cook County Vital Records

See Cook County Clerk's Office.

horizontal rule

Illinois Department of Public Health

535 W. Jefferson Street
Springfield, IL 62761
Phone: 217-782-4977
Fax: 217-523-2648

Description of Resources:

Access to records and fees:

Records can be ordered on-line, by fax, or by mail:
        Send requests to: Division of Vital Records
                                   605 W. Jefferson Street
                                   Springfield, IL 62702-5097

       Fees: Births: $15
                Deaths: $10

horizontal rule

Illinois Newspaper Project


Description of Resources:

This database includes newspaper titles that have been inventoried and cataloged. This database is meant to be used as a reference point from which newspaper titles and holdings information can be located.

Access to records and fees:

Via website.

horizontal rule

Illinois Regional Archives Deposit

Ronald Williams Library
Northeastern Illinois University
5500 N. St. Louis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625-4699
Phone: 773-442-4506
                                 (Coroner's Inquest Record Index 1872-1911)
                                (Chicago Police Department Homicide Index 1870-1930)

Description of Resources:

1. Birth Records:

Cook County Birth Record Index (1871-1915) 
Cook County Birth Registers (1871-1915)  

2. Marriage Records:

       Marriage Licenses (1871-1900) 
            Marriage Record Index (1871-1904)  
            Illinois Statewide Marriage Index (Complete for Cook County,

3. Death Records: 

Cook County Death Record Index (1871-1916)   
Illinois Death Record Index (1916-1949)

4. Naturalization Records:

Immigration & Naturalization Service Naturalization Index for
      Chicago and Cook County Naturalizations 1871-1950

Declarations of Intent Record, 1871-1929 for Circuit, County, 
       Superior, and Criminal Courts (incomplete)

Naturalization Records, 1871-1929 for Circuit, County, 
        Superior, and Criminal Courts (incomplete)

5. Probate and Will Records:

Probate Records, 1871-1923 (partial) 
              Will Records, 1879-1928 (partial)  

6. Chicago Voter Registration Records:

        Index for 1888-1890, and 1892  

7. Other records: 

        Coroner inquest records (1872-1911) 
             Various County Hospital records 
             Chicago city records 

Access to Records and Fees:
The Illinois Regional Archives Depository System welcomes mail and telephone inquiries in addition to in-person visits.  Please have the following information:

1.       full name of the person you are researching

2.       approximate year this person is expected to appear in the record

3.       name of the county (Cook)

4.       record title or type to search

Please limit inquiries to two names at a time and wait until you have received a response to your first request before submitting additional ones.  A copy of the record will be sent to you in 4-10 weeks.  There is no charge for the research services but copies are twenty cents apiece, with a minimum of one dollar.  

How to obtain copies of Cook County Coroner's Inquest Records

Copies of the inquest records found in this index may be obtained by mail or telephone. Inquiries should be made directly to the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. IRAD cannot accept request by e-mail at this time. Call or write.

How to obtain copies of Chicago Police Department Homicide Records

Copies of the homicide records found in this index may be obtained by mail or telephone. Inquiries should be made directly to the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. IRAD cannot accept request by e-mail at this time. Call or write


horizontal rule

Illinois State Archives

Reference Unit
Margaret Cross Norton Building
Capitol Complex
Springfield, IL 62756
Phone: 217-782-4682
Fax: 217-524-3930
Website:  (general website)
Website:  (archives)         

Description of Resources:

Contains State and Federal Documents including censuses, public domain land sales, and Civil War Records. Federal Census 1810-1880, 1900, 1920
Illinois State Census 1820-1865
Illinois Statewide Death Index, Pre 1916 (on-line)
    On-going project
Illinois Statewide Death Index 1916-1950 (on-line)
Cook County Coroner's Inquest Record Index 1892-1911 (on-line)    
Illinois Statewide Marriage Index 1763-1900 (on-line)
Death Certificates 1916-1947
1929 Illinois Roll of Honor
Illinois Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home Residents

Access to Records and Fees:

horizontal rule

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
   (last reviewed 4/15/04)

Great Lakes Region
7358 South Pulaski Road
Chicago, IL 60629-5898
Phone: 773-948-9001 (Archival Research Center)
Phone: 773-948-9000 (Federal Records Center)
Fax: 773-948-9050
              (Federal court cases)
Website: (webinars)

Description of Resources:

     1. Census Schedules:

            1790-1930. All states except 1790 and 1910
            Index (Soundex) to the 1900, 1910 (some states incl.  IL),
            1920, 1930 (a few states but not IL)

     2.  Passenger list indexes:

            Baltimore, Maryland, 1897-July 1952
            Boston, Massachusetts, January 1, 1902-June 30, 1906;  
                  July 1, 1906-December 31, 1920
            Galveston, Texas, 1896-1906; 1906-1951
            New Orleans, Louisiana 1853-1899; 1900-1952
            New York 1820-1846; 1846-1897; June 16, 1897-June 30, 1902; 
                  July 1, 1902-December 31, 1943
            St. Albans, Vermont (Canadian arrivals) 1895-1924

.   Naturalization Records: 

          Court: District (Federal) Court of Cook County

        Indexes:  National Archives Soundex Naturalization Index 
                    (Microfilm), 1840-1950 (for Northern Illinois and parts of Iowa,
                    Wisconsin, and Indiana) 

       4.  World War I Draft Registration Cards:

Cards relating to Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Access to Records and Fees:

Call in advance to reserve microfilm reader. Records can be ordered via downloadable forms or via their website. Search of the Naturalization index can be requested by e-mail. Put "Naturalization Record Search" into subject. Include name of individual whose record you are searching and where the person was living (midwest states only) and whatever information you may have including approximate date of naturalization, birth date/year, country of origin and approximate date of entry into the U.S. Provide your full name, address, e-mail, and phone. Should get results within 10 days. The detailed files can then be ordered for $10 (for up to 4 files) from the National Archive. Some of the earlier registrations are only available from Office of the Circuit Court Clerk of Cook County which they will indicate on the response.

horizontal rule

Office of the Circuit Court Clerk of Cook County

Richard J. Daley Center
50 W. Washington Street-Room 1113
Chicago, IL 60602
Phone: 312-603-6601
Fax: 312-603-4974
Website: www.cookcountyclerkof  (Declaration Search)

Description of Resources: 

1.       Naturalization Records:   

Dates:  1871-1929
Courts: Superior, Circuit, County and Criminal Courts of Cook County

Indexes:  National Archives Soundex Naturalization Index (Microfilm), 1840-1950 (for Northern Illinois and parts of Wisconsin, and Indiana

The clerk office has indexed of 150,000 (of 400,000) Declarations of Intention that wer filed 1906-1929. For free search see link above.

          2.  Probate files and wills:   

Dates: 1871-1963 (Some wills date from the 1850s) 

Courts:  County Court, 1871-ca 1880; Probate Court, 1880-1963; Probate Division, 1964-present. Includes the administration of wills and estates.  Probate matters can include estates of minors and incompetents. Case files may contain the will, date of death, heirs, property. Inventories, description of real estate, petitions of claimants. 

Indexes: Probate Deceased Indexes (microfilm), 1871-1967, Minors Indexes (microfilm), 1871-1976. Incompetents Indexes (microfilm), 1911-1976. Wills Indexes (microfilm), 1850-1993

Docket Books, 1871-present (stored offsite or in Room 1813, Daley Center)    

        3.        Other Court Cases:

Law and Chancery Cases-Circuit and Superior Courts 1871-(15 years prior to current year)

Criminal Felony Cases-Criminal Court, 1871-1963; Criminal Division, 1964-present.

County Court Cases-County Court, 1871-1963; County Division 1964-present.

Adoption Cases and Mental Health Cases (CLOSED)
Divorce Index

Juvenile Cases (CLOSED)    

Access to Records and Fees:

Copies of Naturalization Records $9 per case.  Copies of pages from probate files $2 for first page, 50 cents per page for pages 2-19, 25 cents per page thereafter.  

horizontal rule

Schaumburg Township District Library

130 South Roselle Road
Schaumburg, IL 60193
Phone: 847-985-4000
Description of Resources: 

Chicago Tribune Microfilms 1849-present

horizontal rule

Skokie Public

5215 Oakton Street
Skokie, IL 60077
Fax: 847-673-7797
                      (Jews in Chicago)
Website: (Skokie Obit index)

Description of Resources:   

1. On-line databases: 

       Ancestry Plus
       Chicago Tribune Historical Index
       Skokie Bit Index:

An index to obituaries which appeared in Skokie papers from 1963 to the present. Issues from which obituaries are indexed include The News (1963 through 1981), Skokie Review (1981 to the present), and Life: Skokie edition (1981 to the present).

2. Books: 

Cutler, Irving. The Jews of Chicago: From Shtetl to Suburb.  (University of Illnois Press, 1996)

Cutler, Irving , Norman Schwartz, and Sidney Sorkin, Synagogues of Chicago. Chicago Jewish Historical Society, 1991)

Sorkin, Sidney. Bridges to an American City:  A Guide to Chicago Landsmanshaften, 1870 to 1990. (Peter Lang, 1993)

Meites, H.L. History of the Jews of Chicago.  (Reprinted 1990, originally published in 1924 by Jewish Historical Society of Illinois)

Beider, Alexander. Jewish Surnames in Prague (15th-18th centuries). (Teaneck, NJ: Avotayna, 1994)

Kurzweil, Arthur. From Generation to Generation: How to Trace Your Jewish Genealogy and Personal  History. Revised Edition. (New York: Harper Collins, 1994)

Mokotoff, Gary, and Sally Amdur Sack. Where Once We Walked: A Guide to the Jewish Communities Destroyed in the Holocaust. (Avotaynu, 1991)

Rottenberg, Dan. Finding Our Fathers: A Guidebook to Jewish Genealogy. (New York: Random House, 1977)

horizontal rule

Winnetka-Northfield Public Library

768 Oak Street
Winnetka, IL 60093
Phone: 847-446-7720

Description of Resources:

Ancestry Plus
Heritage Quest Online
Many local resources




To Search this Site                                                                                          Return to top of page

Home Up Jewish Cemeteries Jewish Funeral Homes Jewish Organizations Local Government Private Organizations Jewish Locations (Beyond) Other Locations (Beyond) Alphabetical Index Illinois Cemeteries

E-mail us your comments, updates, and feedback



Guide to Jewish Genealogy in Chicagoland 
Copyright © 2004-2016 by Mike Karsen

Last update:26 July 2016