Thursday, February 4, 2010

IL marriage records, part 2

As mentioned in the previous post, I focused on Lake County, IL for my NGS Home Study Course assignment on marriage records. The earliest available marriage records for Lake County held by IRAD begin in 1839, the same year the county was created. In these early years of recorded county history, the marriage records were hand-written returns stating that a license was issued and a return was filed by either a church official or the J.P. No information other than the names of the couple, the attestor, the J.P./church official, and the clerk and the dates of the license and of the event were given. By 1849, a register-like form began to be used stating roughly the same information; names of couple, when the license was issued, the date of the marriage, and who married them. The first actual marriage license application in the collection is from 1893. The application is much more in-depth showing the names of the couple, where they reside, their ages, whether they are related, whether they are both single, reasons why they should not be married, signature of the applicant, and, where necessary, an affadavit from the parent/guardian in the event of an underage bride or groom. The records beginning in 1901 do not include the application. It is currently unknown if these records ever existed or if the questionnaire was purposely eliminated. In any event, beginning in 1901 we find the license and affadavit attached and signed by the groom, clerk, minister/official, and the parent/guardian in the event of an underaged bride or groom. From 1905-1918 (the most recent holdings at the facility) the form has been changed again, this time bringing back the questionnaire-style application, the affadavit (though by this time, seldomly used), and a copy of the license itself. From the first questionnaire format to the more recent one, the questions themselves did not change much. The only difference was in the extent to which the application investigated earlier marriages. Specifically, the questionnaire asked about divorces and adultery which the earlier format did not explore.

Several volumes of the Lake County marriage record holdings available for viewing on microfilm from the IRAD depository at NIU are missing. It was unknown whether these volumes are also missing at the Lake County courthouse in Waukegan. There was a fire in Waukegan in 1875 which touched some government buildings, but from what I've been able find out about it online, it doesn't sound like the county's records were lost. Another important factoid about the collection is that IRAD does have an index to these records, searchable by date and thereafter by the first initial of the surname. The index however, covers years up to 1918 whereas the actual film of the records themselves only goes to 1915 so you will have to rely upon the County Clerk in Waukegan for marriage records between 1918 and 1962. Thereafter, you can order copies from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Vital Records Div. in Springfield.

So now that I have my run-down of availability, I can get this baby typed up and emailed into NGS. As soon as that's done, I will have finished CD 1 and will be ready for CD 2. I don't know yet what will be covered next, but since CD 1 covered all of the basic stuff, I'm guessing CD 2 should have some more "meat" to get into. I can't wait!!!


  1. If you want to know what's on CD 2 ahead of time, there's a syllabus on the NGS web site; or you can just be surprised! :)

  2. I know, I've been going back and forth between looking at it and being surprised. I think I'm going to check it out though. Now that I've got all of the basic stuff out of the way, I really want to see what's next!