Google Maps and Uncommunicative Records

Today’s post is about Google Maps and Uncommunicative Records.
I only wish I’d thought of this work-around sooner for place research.

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with turn-of-the-(20th)-century Cook County marriage licenses for years now. To put it as elegantly as possible, they bite. In general, the information is limited to:

•    Groom’s name, age
•    Bride’s name, age
•    Officiant’s name
•    Officiant’s address
•    Date of marriage
•    Date of license issue

In contrast, Iowa or Ohio counties in the same period collected a wealth of information. Parents’ full names, occupations, prior marriages, addresses, all of the creamy goodness of a great genealogy record was included.

The Work-Around

What’s a poor Cook County researcher to do? The other day I was wondering how far it was from my grandmother’s address to the church where she was married. And then it hit me: I could put all those officiant addresses in Google Maps.

Here’s an example: the marriage of Donegan and Josephine Jankowski (above). I put the officiant’s address (30 E. Superior) and swivel around a bit in Google Maps and suddenly I have a church and a parish I can work with. Nice, eh? So take another look at your Cook County (or other big city) uncommunicative records. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Google Maps and Uncommunicative Records

Holy Name Cathedral, 2 E. Superior St., Chicago, Illinois

Guide to Chicago Church and Synagogue Records

Next stop: I download the guide to  Chicago Church and Synagogue Records from the Newberry Library to learn more about the church at this address. The Newberry notes:

The guide is intended to help researchers locate Chicago congregational histories and records at the Newberry Library and other repositories. It is not a list of every church or synagogue that has existed in Chicago; rather, it is a guide to locating records of Chicago congregations past and present. If you are aware of records or church histories that we have missed, please contact the library via the email address Entries followed by a call number refer to items in the Newberry Library. Items followed by an FHL film number refer to items held by the Family History Library in Salt Lake City; these items can be loaned to the Newberry for a small fee, or to any LDS Family History Center.

Chicago Street and Numbering Changes

Something to keep in mind: all big cities renumber and rename addresses over time. Chicago is no exception. Try Steve Morse’s One-Step Guide to Chicago address changes at this link.

For other Sassy Jane posts on marriage records, click here. 

For other Chicago Genealogy resources, including ethnic records, click below:

About the Author:

Nancy Loe has an MA in American History and an MLS in Library Science and Archives. She has appeared on PBS’s American Experience, at Rootstech, SCGS Jamboree, and state and regional genealogy conferences. Her website was featured in Family Tree Magazine's “Social Media Mavericks: 40 to Follow.”


  1. pen4hire 22 March 2018 at 1:36 PM - Reply

    Don’t envy us dong Ohio research TOO much. Just because there are lines to fill in does not mean that they were always filled in. (Tearing my hair over those lazy clerks!)

    • Nancy Loe 22 March 2018 at 1:38 PM - Reply

      True enough that there are blank entries a lot of the time. It’s like that ship mentioned in naturalization records all the time: SS Unknown. That ship sailed a LOT! 🙂

  2. Cheryl Cayemberg 6 September 2011 at 7:29 AM - Reply

    I wouldn’t have thought of doing that! At least it would have taken me a few more years to have the D’oh moment! Thanks for the post!

  3. Nancy Loe 31 August 2011 at 7:33 PM - Reply

    You’re welcome, Heather. Hope it helps.

  4. Heather Kuhn Roelker 30 August 2011 at 10:15 AM - Reply

    That is a good idea. Thank you for sharing!

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