A BRIEF - IF BORING - RECAP of the types of information you can expect to find and learn, from an Illinois death certificate~

Effective January 1, 1916, Illinois Dept of Public Health standardized the forms used by county officials when issuing a certificate of death.  Death Certificates, issued from 1916 through ca. 1921, were not as informative as those used during the following three decades (from 1922 through 1950).

Below is a scanned image of the February 5, 1917 death certificate issued in Coles County IL, for my great-grandfather, Eugene Sullivan.  The original death certificate is in the holdings of the IL Dept of Public Health; the image below was found/printed from microfilm roll #20 of the 1,226 death certificate rolls, in the holdings of the IL State Archives (but the day I printed Eugene's death cert, I was not using one of the better microfilm reader/printers~).

The 1917 death certificate for Eugene (above) states that he was Widowed, but nowhere did it ask for the name of the spouse (she was Mary Harrington, b. 1844 on the Beara Peninsula, Co Cork Ireland; died Aug 1879, Douglas Co IL).  

This early format did not request specifics about the birthplace of the deceased, nor that of his parents.  (Eugene was born Castletownbere, Beara Peninsula, Co Cork Ireland).

A small section on the lower right of the 1917 death certificate form asks for length of residence at place of death, and length of residence in the state.  In both fields shown above, the Informant stated 20 years.  [This was incorrect, as Eugene Sullivan finally "settled" in Illinois in the late spring of 1886 - almost 31 years prior to his death]

Illinois Death Certificates issued through the 1920's through the late 1930's had specific fields that recognized the importance (to genealogy researchers :)) of immigration information; i.e., asking the length of residence in the city/town of death, and the length of residence in the U.S., if of foreign birth.  This information, IF properly completed by the "Informant", is of immeasurable help in approximating immigration/migration dates.

Below is a blank sample of the standardized Illinois Death Certificate format used from the early 1940's.... not as helpful as previous formats, but still more-informative for parental "clues" than those issued during the 1950's and later (which no longer requested parental birthplaces).

The sample below was copied from the IL State Archives' website, at www.cyberdriveillinois.com:


page updated July 2, 2006