An index of vital records extracted from Chicago newspapers by the Chicago Genealogical Society, covering 1833 forward.

While the Chicago Fire of 1871 ravaged the city, it also destroyed much of Chicago’s vital records. From 1971 to 1980 in an attempt to partially rectify this loss, the Chicago Genealogy Society scoured Chicago Newspapers looking for any articles that provided vital record information. CGS published a seven-volume composite index of articles from 1833-1848, and continues to index articles from 1849 onward. The index is available online for your genealogical research.

Chicago Newspapers, 1833-1848

Click here to search over 17,000 records.

Chicago Newspapers, 1849 and later

Click here to search over 1,300 records.

What’s in the Index?

The index contains events that took place in Cook County as well as several other counties in northern Illinois. These life events include notices for deaths, marriages, court cases and decisions, arrivals and departures, etc. Each entry provides the following information: surname, first name, place, event, year and page number. The place indicates where the event occurred or where the person was from. Some very lengthy articles were abstracted.

Here is an example of entries from the database and the corresponding article:

Dodge, Benjamin R. / Chicago / Death / 79 / 1847
Dodge, Peter J. / Perkins Grove, Bureau Co / Death / 79 / 1847
Hooker, J.W. / Chicago / Death / 79 / 1847

Article from newspaper Watchman of the Prairies:
November 30, 1847. Died.
On the 26th ult., of congestive fever, at the residence of Mr. J. W. Hooker, in this city, Benjamin R. Dodge, aged 21 years, son of Mr. Peter J. Dodge, of Perkins Grove, Bureau Co.

Get the Full Info!

If you find a name in the databases, you can obtain the transcribed article from CGS by emailing us at Please enter “Library Lookup” in the subject line of the email, and include the line entry from the database (name, event, year, page number).

This lookup service is free to our members, who should include their membership number in the email. For non-members, the fee is $5 for 3 lookups. Please send your check payable to:

Chicago Genealogical Society
Attn: Librarian
PO Box 1160
Chicago IL 60690-116

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