Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court
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Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
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Records and Archives

Archives Holdings

Established in 1992, the Archives of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County collects, preserves, and makes available to researchers the non-current records created by the Cook County Court systems. Holdings date from the 1871 Chicago Fire.

Please note that this holdings list is only a brief overview. Researchers should always contact the Archives staff for assistance.

*Starred records are stored offsite and transferred to Archives for viewing (allow 2-10 working days). Indexes are located in the Archives unless otherwise stated. Archives patrons should be aware that the Clerk's office began computerized indexing and docketing of court cases in the early 1980s, which may affect their research.

Superior, Circuit, County and Criminal Courts of Cook County
(Naturalization records produced by other Cook County towns, such as Blue Island and Calumet City, are not included)

May include declaration of intent, petition, and/or court order. Declarations of intent filed elsewhere may contain more information.

1904-1906 Name, date of naturalization; possibly address & witness
1904-1906 Above, plus generally include town of birth, port of departure, date and port of arrival, occupation, witnesses
1906-1929 Above, plus wife's name and date of birth; children's names and dates of birth; physical description of petitioner
National Archives Soundex Naturalization Index (Microfilm), 1840-1950 (for Northern Illinois and parts of Iowa, Wisconsin, and Indiana)

1871-1975 (Some wills date from the 1850s)
County Court, 1871-ca. 1880; Probate Court, 1880-1963; Probate Division, 1964-present
Besides the administration of wills and estates, Probate matters can include estates of minors and incompetents. Case files may contain the will, date of death, heirs, property inventories, description of real estate, petitions of claimants.
Probate Deceased Indexes (microfilm), 1871-1975
Minors Indexes (microfilm), 1871-1975
Incompetents Indexes (microfilm), 1911-1975
Wills Indexes (microfilm), 1850-1975
Docket Books, 1871-present (stored offsite, in Archives Reading Room, or in Room 1813, Daley Center)


1871-1963, 1964-1991 (Chancery)

Note: Post-1964 Law cases over 21 years old are destroyed, per Illinois statute, but all orders issued by judges in the cases are available on microfilm

Circuit and Superior Courts, 1871-1963; Law and Chancery Divisions, 1964-present
Case files may contain cause of action (complaint), defendant's response, motions and briefs filed; testimony (occasional): verdict (if jury trial); judge's final order. If the case was appealed, a transcript may be present.

Civil cases reflect a variety of topics, including local area business and industry, labor issues, medical (and other) professions, sports and entertainment. Chancery matters also dealt with class actions, arbitration and injunction, name changes, and proceedings of corporations. "Burnt Records" cases filed after the Chicago Fire of 1871 to establish land ownership in lieu of destroyed paperwork are available in Archives on microfilm (1871-ca. 1950).

Circuit Court and Superior Court, both plaintiff and defendant indexes (microfilm), 1871-1963
Law and Chancery Division Indexes (microfilm), 1964-65
Chancery Division Index (microfiche), 1966-1991; Law Division Indexes, 1964 forward electronic index
Docket books and clerk's record books, 1871-1980 Law; 1871-1991 Chancery (majority stored offsite)
Law Oversample database index

Circuit and Superior Courts 1871-1963; various suburban municipal courts ca. 1900-1963; Domestic Relations Division 1964-present
Case files may contain the plaintiff's complaint and defendant's response; certificate of evidence (testimony); and the judge's final decree, with the terms of settlement.

Divorce cases may provide information about grounds for divorce; address; occupation; age and name of children of parties; date and description of the marriage; provision for care of the children. Cases do not include social security numbers for above dates.

Circuit Court and Superior Court, both plaintiff and defendant indexes (microfilm), 1871-1963
Divorce Division index (microfiche), 1964-1980; 1981 forward electronic index
Chicago Heights, Calumet City, Blue Island indexes (microfilm), appx.1900-1963
Docket books and clerk's record books, 1871-1985 (majority stored offsite)

1871-1900; 1927-1983 (1871-1900 cases stored in Archives)
Please note that 1900-1927 cases have been destroyed, but case activity may be re-created from court docket books and indictment records. Indictment record books (1871-1924) stored offsite, and indictment records (1913-1923, microfilm) in Archives
Criminal Court, 1871-1963; Criminal Division, 1964-present
Case files may contain the indictment; names of witnesses on subpoenas; instructions to jury and final verdict; sentence; court half sheet. Missing cases may be reconstructed from docket books and indictment records. Criminal felony case files seldom contain direct testimony. However, they may occasionally include names of jury members or persons involved; evidence such as maps, news clippings, or photographs; or sealed depositions. Files of appealed cases may contain transcripts of the trial proceedings; felony transcripts from 1931-1970s available in Archives on microfilm.
Criminal Indictment Indexes (microfiche), 1873-1983
Docket books clerks' record books, and half sheets, 1871-1983 (stored offsite)
Indictment Record (microfilm), 1913-1923

1871-15 years previous to date
County Court, 1871-1963; County Division, 1964-present
County Court cases have dealt with a variety of matters. Jurisdiction has included municipal incorporations, land titles, election contests, child support, and tax objections.
County Court case file indexes, 1871-1963 are closed because of adoption records listed therein.
Docket Books and Clerk's Record Books, 1871-1980s (stored offsite)

County, Circuit, and Superior Courts, 1871-1963; County Division, 1964-present
NOTE: All adoption and mental health cases are closed, pending an order by the presiding judge of the Cook County Circuit Court, County Division. The Archives cannot make these cases available. Patrons should direct inquiries to the Chief Deputy Clerk of the County Division.

1899-1926 with gaps, 1926-1964 destroyed (only a sample preserved thereafter)
Juvenile Court, 1899-1963; Family Division 1964-1970; Juvenile Division 1970-present
NOTE: All juvenile cases are closed, pending an order by the presiding judge of the Cook County Circuit Court, Juvenile Division. Patrons should direct inquiries to the Chief Deputy Clerk of the Juvenile Division. Once written permission is granted by the presiding judge, patrons may research older non-current case files through the Archives.

Case files contain information of a personal nature, including demographic data such as family background, education, health, etc.


Justice of the Peace Courts, 1871-1963:

Justice of the Peace Court records were destroyed as allowed by Illinois statute in the early 1970s.

Municipal Court of Chicago, 1904-1963:

Misdemeanor cases from 1914 to 1924 have been microfilmed; however, there are no indexes to these cases. A sample of other cases does exist and is being indexed by the Archives (currently 1950-1963). This sample includes quasi-criminal cases such as non-support and paternity.

Municipal Department, both Civil and Criminal Divisions, 1964-present:

Municipal division cases are routinely destroyed in accordance with Illinois statute. Municipal civil cases are held 21 years, and Municipal Criminal cases are kept 10 years. A 3% sample is preserved, along with an oversample of selected charge type for misdemeanors. Although there are no indexes to many remaining cases, the oversample may be searched by type of charge.

Law Division cases, 1964-present (see above, Law Division):

Case files are routinely destroyed 21 years after filing, in accordance with Illinois statute. Docket books, containing a record of all orders issued by judges in each case, are stored mostly in the Archives. From microfilm, Archives staff can make copies of these court orders. However, this is the only record available, as complaints and pleadings are destroyed with case files. A 3% sample and a small selected oversample (by case type) is taken for research purposes and is available at the Archives on microfilm.


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