History: Illinois was first settled in 1787 as part of the Northwest Territory. In 1790 it became part of Indiana Territory. In 1809 Illinois Territory was formed, and in 1818 Illinois became a state.
Birth records: Birth records were kept by the government starting in 1843, but they were incomplete, and more were kept starting in 1877. Statewide registration of births began in 1916 with complete records by 1922. Copies of recent birth certificates can be obtained from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Marriages: Marriage records were usually recorded by the county clerk from the time the county was organized. Recent copies of marriage certificates can be obtained from the appropriate county clerk.
Deaths: Death records were kept by the government starting in 1843, but they were incomplete, and more were kept starting in 1877. Statewide registration of deaths began in 1916 with complete records by 1919. Recent copies of death certificates can be obtained from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Divorces: The county clerk for each county has copies of divorce records.
Census: The first federal census available for Illinois is 1820. There are federal censuses publicly available for 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1890 (fragments), 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940, and 1950. There were partial state censuses in 1807, 1810, 1818, 1820, 1825, 1830, 1835, 1840, 1845, 1855, and 1865.
Probate records: In larger counties, the county probate court kept the probate records until 1960. In smaller counties, probate records were kept by the county court until 1960. Starting in 1960, probate records have been kept by the county circuit court.
County records: Court, land, probate, tax, and naturalization records were kept at the county level.
Other records: Many cities and towns had newspapers, records kept by churches, cemeteries, histories, school, city directories, and other records that can be located on the city pages on this site. Records specific to minority groups can be found in the Minority Records section.
All records: Online indexes and images of many of the above records can be found by using the links on this site.