Archives Department

The Archives Department of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County was established in 1992 to collect, preserve, and make available to researchers the non-current, pre-electronic records created by the Cook County Court system.  This is a great stepping off place for genealogical research since the holdings in the Archives Department date back to the 1871 Chicago Fire.   A brief overview of the holdings is provided below.

Please note that *starred records are stored offsite and transferred to Archives for viewing.  Researchers should allow 2-10 days for these records to be transferred to Archives.  Moreover, researchers should always feel free to contact Archives staff for assistance.

Archives patrons should be aware that the Clerk's Office began computerized indexing and docketing of court cases in the early 1980s.  Indexes are located in the Archives Department unless otherwise stated.

Archives Holdings

Established in 1992, the Archives Department collects, preserves, and makes available to researchers the non-current records created by the Cook County Court systems.

Naturalization Declarations of Intention Search

Use this engine to search the First Papers filed by those who wished to become U.S. citizens.

Famous Online Cases

This "Famous Online Cases" section is an online exhibit hall featuring information about some of our most famous (or notorious) case holdings.

Naturalization Record Searches

Instructions and forms for requesting searches of naturalization documents.

Request a Search for an Archived Case

Instructions and forms for requesting searches of archival court case files.


Frequently Asked Questions


Provide us with specific information (e.g., dates, names, type of case, etc.). Our staff cannot carry out broad searches (i.e., every file about the Smith family, or every file about Prohibition).  We must have a case number in order to locate a file.

To do this we search indices, or lists, for names of plaintiff(s) and defendant(s). These indices are formatted by date and type of case. We must search for the correct spelling of a name and the correct date(s) to find the case number of the record you want! (If you have the case number, we do not need to search for it.)

Case files are stored off-site (except for naturalization records). We usually receive case files within a week of ordering.
We charge SEPARATE fees for searches, for certified copies, and for informational uncertified copies of documents from a case file.

•Searches: $9.00 for each year a search is performed in the indices, payable in advance.
•Certified copies: $9.00 per certified document, plus photocopy charges.
•Informational uncertified copies: Per Illinois statute, photocopy charges are as follows:

First page copied $2.00

Next 19 pages @ $ .50

Remaining pages @ $ .25

(Staff will bill for the correct amount after pages are counted.)

All checks and money orders must be made payable to: Clerk of Circuit Court. On personal checks, please write your driver’s license number.

Provide us with specific information (e.g., dates, names, type of case, etc.). Our staff cannot carry out broad searches (i.e., every file about the Smith family, or every file about Prohibition).  We must find a case number in order to locate a file.

To do this we search indices, or lists, for names of plaintiff(s) and defendant(s). These indices are formatted by date and type of case. We must search for the correct spelling of a name and the correct date(s) to find the case number of the record you want! (If you have the case number, we do not need to search for it.)

Case files are stored off-site (except for naturalization records). We usually receive case files within a week of ordering.

Records and Archives
COOK COUNTY CLERK OF CIRCUIT COURT
ARCHIVES
Naturalization Searches
Room 1113, Richard J. Daley Center
50 W. Washington
Chicago, IL  60602
312-603-6601

Important Information about Naturalization Records
 
All naturalization records created in the Cook County Courts from 1871 to 1903 DO NOT contain the following data:

•Date and town of birth
•Ports of departure and arrival
•Vessel of passage
•Occupation
•Information about wife and children

Information contained on the Soundex cards for pre-1904 Cook County naturalization records reflects almost all of the information contained in the actual records. The only exception occurs if the declaration of intent was filed in a non-Cook County court that required more specific information from the petitioner.

Declarations are usually attached to petitions in Cook County naturalization records. Pre-1904 declarations are not kept separately. Items marked “Court Order Only” on Soundex cards refer to the court order signed by the judge that naturalized the individual when the petition and declaration for that individual are no longer in existence.

Naturalization records from 1904 to October 1906 should, but DO NOT always, contain the following data:

•Address
•Town of birth
•Date of birth
•Date of arrival
•Port of arrival and departure
•Occupation
•Witnesses

Naturalization records from October 1906 to 1929 reveal the same information as earlier records (1904 to October 1906) as well as the following data:

•Wife’s name and date of birth (sometimes wife’s town of birth)
•Children’s names, dates of birth, and town of birth
•Physical description of petitioner (on declarations only)

Local Cook County courts stopped granting naturalizations in 1929.

Before 1906 wives and children were not named on naturalization papers of husbands or fathers, but they did receive derivative U.S. citizenship through these men. Only after September 22, 1922 did the law require married women to file for naturalization on their own.

On Soundex cards, the word “minor” next to the certificate number does not imply that the petitioner naturalized as a minor. Rather, this term denotes that the person arrived in the U.S. as a minor and then became a citizen sometime after reaching the age of 18 years. The Soundex cards often give the number of years the “minor” resided in the U.S. before naturalizing. Minors DID NOT file declarations of intention, and “minor” petitions provide virtually no genealogical information.

Due to the fact that declarations of intention (“first papers”) are haphazardly indexed, our staff cannot allot time to search for those specific records. Unless the individual filed a “minor’s petition” (see above), the declaration of intention is included with the petition (“second papers”).

Please read before requesting an offline search

Naturalization Search Form


View All Archives Department Frequently Asked Questions