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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.

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

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

What’s a poor Cook County researcher to do? Well, 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 license for William Donegan and Josephine Jankowski, seen above.

Add in 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.

Google Maps and Uncommunicative Records

Google Maps and Uncommunicative Records

Next stop is the Newberry Library’s Chicago Church and Synagogue Records,

This research guide is available as a PDF file.  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 genealogy@newberry.org. 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.

The Chicago Church and Synagogue Records guide can help me confirm if this is indeed the correct location of their wedding.

Nice, eh? So take another look at your Cook County (or other big city) marriage records. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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

For comprehensive guides to Chicago Genealogy, 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. Heather Kuhn Roelker 30 August 2011 at 10:15 AM

    That is a good idea. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Sassy Jane Genealogy 31 August 2011 at 7:33 PM

    You’re welcome, Heather. Hope it helps.

  3. Cheryl Cayemberg 6 September 2011 at 7:29 AM

    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!

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