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.
Please note that archived court records are stored off-site 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 at 312-603-6601 or 312-603-6628.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions - Archive Department
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: $6.00 for each year a search is performed in the indices, payable in advance.
Certified copies: $6.00 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 @ $0.50
- Remaining pages @ $0.25
(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.
Records and Archives:
Cook County Clerk of Circuit Court Archives
Room 1113, Richard J. Daley Center
50 W. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602
You can also access the following:
To search the first papers or declaration of intention filed by those who wished to become U.S. citizens. Please note that this database is a database to First Papers. Please see Naturalization Information, as it is recommended you search for the full file instead of just the Declaration of Intention.
For instructions and forms for requesting searches of naturalization documents.