Browse Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic parish records online at FamilySearch. Early burial records are available for the following parishes:
Notre Dame, 1865-1883
St Francis of Assisi's Church, 1853-1877
St Joseph's Church, 1856-1915
St Michael's Church, 1866-1915
St Peter's Church, 1860-1900
If you'd rather use the microfilm, check the Family History Library Catalog to see what's available. Do a place search for "Chicago" and then select "Church Records."
For burial records from other denominations, check the Newberry Library's Guide to Chicago Church and Synagogue Records.
The Chicago Genealogical Society's publication Chicago Cemetery Records 1847-1863: sexton's reports and certificates, treasurer receipts, deeds, and undertakers' reports is great resource for information about early deaths. To learn more about the book, check out my blog post.
The cemeteries below (shown with their 1871 locations) were listed in the 1871 Chicago city directory. Contact the current offices to see if records are available.
One mile north of city limits on Green a road
Cemetery of the Congregation of the Sons of Peace
One and a half miles north of city cemtery, near the lake [Polish]
Cemetery of the Hebrew Benevolent Society
Adjoining the Cemetery of the Congregation of the Sons of Peace
Chebra Kadisha Ubikarcholm
Two miles north of city limits, on Green Bay road These four cemeteries are now known as "Jewish Graceland." Records may be available from 1855 forward. (See Development, Decline and Renewal of Old Jewish Cemetery)
On North Side, between Schiller street and North avenue (probably associated with City Cemetery)
German Catholic Cemetery
Three miles from the city limits, on Green Bay road
St Boniface Interment records, 1864-1987 are available on FHL microfilm.
St Henry Interment records, 1864-1987 are available on FHL microfilm.
City Cemetery (also known as "Milliman Tract")
North avenue to Lincoln park, between North Clark and the lake.
The city ordered this cemetery vacated in 1865 and the lot owners who could be contacted were allowed to choose new lots in Rosehill, Oak Woods, Calvary, and Graceland.
Two miles north of city, on Green Bay road
Cemetery records from first record book of Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois, 1860-1866 are available on FHL microfilm.
German Lutheran Cemetery (of the St Paul's and St Emanuel's
South of Graceland
Wunder's Cemetery records, ca. 1867-1930. No circulation to Family History Center. Records also available at the Newberry Library.
Four miles north of the city, on the Chicago and Milwaukee R.R.
Cook County coroner's inquest records, 1871-1911, are held by the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU). To obtain a copy, locate the name in the Cook County Coroner's Inquest Record Index, 1872-1911 and note the name, volume, page, date filed, and date of death. Then contact IRAD by phone (773-442-4506) or by mail (Illinois Regional Archives Depository, Ronald Williams Library, Northeastern Illinois University, 5500 N. St. Louis Ave., Chicago, IL 60625-4699). They will provide the record for the cost of the photocopy. The inquest records can also be obtained in person or from FamilySearch's Cook County, Illinois coroners' inquest records, Dec. 1872-Nov. 1911" microfilm.
Inquest records from 1912 forward are held by the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office. Research requests should be submitted in writing to Office of the Medical Examiner, 2121 West Harrison, Chicago, IL, 60612, ATTN: Medical Records, and should include the deceased's name and date of death, or at least month and year, along with the requestor's name, address, and telephone number.
Records through the 1970s are stored off-site and may be difficult to find. The staff will make up to 5 tries to find the file you request and this may take up to 5 months. Once located, they will contact you to let you know what copy costs would be.
About this index
The title for this index is somewhat misleading because it includes entries for deaths that occurred inside and outside of Chicago, including out of state. It also includes some stillbirths.
13 microfilm reels
Why search this index?
1) Sometimes an address can help distinguish between two or more individuals with the same name who appear in the Cook County Death Index, 1871-1916 or the Illinois Statewide Death Index, 1916-1950;
2) The index lists individuals who died outside the city but are buried in Chicago. Sometimes this can help solve the mystery of why a person buried in a city cemetery doesn't appear in the Cook County Death Index. Local certificates for Out-of-town Deaths, 1909-1915 are available on 11 microfilms through Family History Centers.
3) Sometimes this index can lead to a death certificate for an individual who does not seem to appear in the Cook County or Statewide Death Indexes mentioned above. If you find an entry for a pre-1916 death in this index, but aren't able to find a certificate number in the online or microfiche index, it is worth scrolling thorough the certificate film for the surname letter/month/year.
For pre-1916 death certificates, the register number in this index matches the number that is stamped on the death certificates but not the one that is handwritten. It is not useful in locating the pre-1916 death certificates on films that are arranged by the second, handwritten number, but it is useful in locating certificates if they fall on the "mixed" films from 1908-1915.
4) If you find an entry for a death record 1916-1933, the register is the same as the certificate number that you'd find in the Illinois Statewide Death Index and it can be used to find the certificate on Family History Library films.
5) If you find an entry for a Chicago death before 1878, the Cook County Clerk's Office can most likely provide you with death information transcribed from a death register. (I have a copy of an 1874 death that I obtained that way.)
Information included in the index
name of the individual
date of death
address where the death occurred (for Chicago deaths) or city, state (for out-of-town deaths)
various coded notations, for example "OT" means "out of town"; "SB" means ""stillbirth"; the other codes in front of pre-1916 entries likely refer to register books
a register or certificate number (to the right of the death date)
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