Saturday, June 3, 2017
Cook County, Illinois, Death Records
It's time to do my monthly indexing project. It's a small contribution each month, but I do it in the firm belief that a little bit done on a regular basis will someday add up to something of significance. You know, one bite of the elephant. Inch by inch. Many hands—albeit in a serial sort of way.
Not that I meant to be morbid or anything, but this time, I settled on Cook County, Illinois, Death Records. It was the Cook County part of the equation that drew me in, a research location for our family which potentially could include family records.
When I opened the batch—oh, my! I hadn't counted on seeing recent records! These were from the late 1980s. Not only that, but they were specifically from the Medical Examiner's office. This being Chicago, I got a brief tour of the remains of the year's news cycle—suicides, suspicious deaths, nearly unidentifiable people.
I indexed a lot of "N/A" entries in this batch—unknown dates of birth, marital statuses, parents' names—and couldn't help but wonder what happened to those people. My brain's tendency to search for connections and stories left me somewhat deflated by the end of that run, I must confess. So much sadness out there...
On the positive side—from a simply operational point of view, of course—the batch couldn't have been easier to transcribe. Almost everything on the forms was typewritten. Even the few entries handwritten in, then struck out and amended, were clear enough to understand.
A tempting thought: go back and index another batch in this collection while ones from that same series are still available to work on. It's nice to slam dunk a job and think of making rapid progress. As long as I can remember to maintain balance and not overdo it with volunteer enthusiasm, a little bit more won't deplete those long-term good intentions.
Above: "Deer in a Summer Meadow," undated oil on canvas, mounted on cardboard by German landscape artist Carl Zimmermann (1863 - 1930); courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.