Monday, September 10, 2007

Old Cook County vital records to be online

As noted in the Chicago Tribune, "Old county records being put online," professional genealogists and people interested in researching their family tree will soon be able to access key records from home instead of ordering by mail or traipsing down to a musty office in the Loop, Cook County Clerk David Orr said Thursday. If all goes as planned, newly digitized versions of county records such as birth and death certificates and marriage licenses will be available beginning in January on one searchable Web site that will revolutionize how such research is done, Orr said.

The Web site is part of a massive yearlong effort to digitize the county's 24 million vital records, which date to 1871, when record-keeping began after the Chicago Fire wiped out previous stockpiles, clerk's office spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said. The records have stacked up for decades in the basement area of the county's administration building at Clark and Randolph Streets, where conditions have not been ideal. . . . The process is expected to be complete by the end of the year, Quinn said.

Documents available online will be birth certificates that are at least 75 years old, marriage certificates more than 50 years old, and death certificates more than 20 years old, Quinn said. . . . Users can pay a fee to download records and print them at home. Certified copies, which are required to obtain official documents such as a driver's license, will not be available online. No Social Security numbers will be available on the online documents, she said.

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