llinois Death Records and Death Index

It may surprise you to learn how often genealogists face this particular set of circumstances. They are aware of when their ancestor was born, when they may have married, when their children were born but they just can’t find out when they died.

There are a fair few instances where the only information missing is the death date which can be very frustrating. This is why knowing what death records may be available to you can be vital in your research.

It is important to note that one of the biggest issues in finding a death record can be looking in the wrong place. You may be surprised how often people miss records because they are looking in the wrong county and sometimes even the wrong state.

In this post we will be looking at Illinois state death records and indexes to try and help you find those elusive ancestors. So if you are confident that your ancestor likely died in the state of Illinois then read on and hopefully we can help you out.

About Illinois

Europeans first arrived in the area we know today as Illinois in 1673 as part of an expedition by Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette. During the French and Indian War however the region was ceded to the British.

As a result of the American Revolution Illinois ultimately became part of the United States. It was on December 3rd 1818 that Illinois achieved Statehood becoming the 21st state to do so.

Social Security Death Index 1935 – 2014

All American citizens, naturalized immigrants and resident aliens require a Social Security number for proof of identification and authorization to work. This number follows us throughout our life and when we die this nine digit code is very important.

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is a database of death records that was compiled from the United States Social Security Administration Death Master File. This was until 2014 when the rules changed and public access to the Death Master File had to take place through a certification program.

Those researching the deaths of ancestors in Illinois will likely find that most people who have died between 1936 and 2014 can be found on the Social Security Death Index. This does however only hold true if the person had a Social Security number when they died.

It is estimated that since 1973 the SSDI recorded 93% to 96% of the deaths of individuals aged 65 or over. The index was updated frequently and by June of 2011 there were 89,835,920 records available.

The index can be found on websites such as FamilySearch and Ancestry.com and offers details such as:

  • Given name and surname (middle initial since the 1990s)
  • Date of birth
  • Month and year of death (Full date of death for accounts active after 2000)
  • Social Security number
  • State or territory Social Security number was issued
  • Last place of residence when alive including ZIP code

Click here to search Ancestrydeathindex

U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007

This is more or less an extension of the information you can find from the Social Security Death Index. It has been extracted from the SSDI records but features more details. It does not include all of the names found in the SSDI however but there are at least 49 million names included.

In this record you may find additional information such as:

  • Date and place of birth
  • Parents' names who, if deceased, would be over 75 when you are viewing the records (may be redacted if under 75)
  • Citizenship status
  • Gender
  • Sometimes race or ethnic group

Click here to search AncestryDeathindex

Illinois Death Records Index 1916 – 1950

This index can be located at the Office of Illinois Secretary of State and provides a listing of all the filed death certificates between 1916 – 1950. These are the certificates that would have been filed with the Illinois Department of Public Health during this time frame.

Legislation from 1989 allows the department to make available death certificates that were filed 50 or more years ago although this index only lists up to 1950. This online source is an extension of their Reference Room services. Those seeking more recent death records should contact the Illinois State Archives.

This is only an index of the certificates and as such will not show you digital copies. If you know the full name, birth date and the rough area in which a person died you may be able to locate the death certificate number and order a copy of the record.

Click here for the Illinois Death Record Index 1916 – 1950

Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947

This is an index from Familysearch.org a creation of the Mormon Church based out of Utah. It is free to view and search as long as you have a registered account with them. This is an index of deaths that occurred in Illinois between 1916 – 1947 including stillbirths.

There are no images in this collection but there are transcriptions of the records which include details such as.

  • Name of deceased
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Death Date
  • Race & Ethnicity
  • Parents' names and birth place
  • Birth date and place
  • Burial date and place

Click here to search the Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947

It should be noted that this same collection can be found at Ancestry.com but does require a paid membership to view.

Illinois Death Index, pre-1916

This is an ongoing project through the Office or the Illinois Secretary of State that seeks to collect records of pre-1916 deaths. Collected from a select number of counties it is still limited by sources such as death registers and licenses filed by county clerks.

Again there are no digital images available but you can find certificate numbers that allow you to order copies of the records to help you with your research.

Click here to search the Illinois Death Index, pre-1916

Illinois, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1772-1999

This collection is found on the genealogy site Ancestry,com and does require a paid membership to view. It offers over 200 years of will and probate records from all of Illinois’ counties. You may discover from this collection the names of an ancestor's family and what they had to pass on to their heirs when they died.

Click here to search Illinois, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1772-1999

Illinois County Specific Death Records Indexes, Obituaries and Cemetery Indexes

Aside from the statewide collection and indexes many of Illinois’ counties have their own death indexes and records that could prove helpful. If you know where a relative may have died you may be able to track down more local records.

County Illinois Death Records Indexes, Obituaries and Cemeteries by County
  • Adams
  • Alexander
Aurora See Kane County
Bloomington See McLean County
Bond
Boone
Brown
Bureau
  • Bureau County Online Genealogy Search Indexes death certificates (20 years or older). Requires free registration. You can order copies of the records for a fee.
Cass
Centralia See Marion County
Champaign
  • Champaign County Genealogical Index - Local History Online Catalog indexes some obituaries and death notices; from the Urbana Free Library
Chicago See Cook County
Christian
Clinton
  • Clinton County GenWeb Genealogy Website includes Deaths, December 1877-1950: St. Dominic's Catholic Church Death Records, 1858-1927 (in Breese, Illinois),
  • Veterans Memorial has names for those who died in 20th century wars
Coles
  • Coles County: City of Mattoon Death Certificate Registers Index, 1899-1918
  • Dodge Grove Cemetery Records (Mattoon, Illinois)
Cook
Danville See Vermilion County
Decatur See Macon County
DeKalb
  • DeKalb County Online Genealogy Search Indexes death certificates (20 years or older). Requires free registration. You can order copies of the records for a fee.
  • County Cemeteries and Genealogy Indexes
DeWitt
Dupage
East St Louis See St Clair County
Elgin See Kane County
Fulton
Greene
Grundy
Hancock
  • Hancock County Birth Certificates, Death Records, Marriage Records, Applications for Marriage Licenses, 1829-1947 from FamilySearch
Henderson
Iroquois
Jackson
Jefferson
Joliet See Will County
Kane
  • Kane County Genealogy Online Database for Death Certificates 20 years or older; requires free registration; copies of the records can be ordered online for a fee.
  • Aurora Public Library Genealogy Indexes includes an obituary index for the Beacon newspaper, and Final Cemetery Index.
  • Elgin, Illinois Area Obituaries Index , Mid 1970s to 2011 from the Schaumburg Township District Library
  • Elgin Genealogical Society includes a probate index, funeral home index, Civil War dead (for Elgin, IL)
  • Elgin Newspapers Vital Records Surname Search indexes for obituaries from the Gail Borden Public Library District
  • St. Charles Public Library Local Newspapers Index, 1986-present includes obituaries
Kankakee
Kendall
  • Kendall County Genealogy Indexes includes cemetery burials; Kendall County Clerk Death Register, 1877-1903
Knox
Lake
LaSalle
Lee
Livingston
Logan
Macon
Macoupin
Madison
Marion
McDonough
McHenry
McLean
Menard
Montgomery
Morgan
Naperville See DuPage County
Ogle
Peoria
Perry Perry County Cemetery Burials
Piatt
Pike
Pulaski
Quincy See Adams County
Randolph
Richland
  • Richland County: City of Olney Cemetery Burials for Haven Hill, Memorial Gardens, and Maple Dale Cemeteries
  • Index of Death Records 1878-1940; Death Records, 1877-1950; and Stillbirths, 1883-1904 from FamilySearch
Rock Island
St Clair
Sangamon
Schuyler
Shelby
Stephenson
Tazewell
Urbana See Champaign County
Vermilion
Washington
Wayne
White
Whiteside
Will
Williamson
Winnebago
Woodford

Conclusion

The state of Illinois has a rich and varied history with numerous historical societies found throughout the state. At the county level there is a wealth of death indexes and at the state level there are plenty of resources to help you as well.

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