Vital Records: Marriage, Birth, & Death: Death Records

About Death Records

Nathan Dillon Tombstone
Graves of
Nathan Dillon & Mary Hoskins
First Settlers of Tazewell County
Buried at Dillon Cemetery
Elm Grove Township

Death records in Tazewell County vary in content and location depending on the time period in which the death was reported.  The death certificate can contain a great deal of information about the individual and his/her death.

Even though the county was created in 1827, Tazewell County did not begin recording deaths until 1878.

Starting in 1878, the Illinois State Board of Health required all deaths to be reported to the Tazewell County Clerk, although most were not reported because compliance was not enforced.  The Tazewell County Clerk's office estimates only about 10% of the deaths prior to 1916 were actually recorded.

Beginning in 1916 the Tazewell County Clerk and the Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records jointly recorded death records.  Compliance was very high, reaching 95% state-wide by 1919.

The cost of obtaining a death certificate can vary widely depending on the repository and whether the copy is certified.  Certified death certificates are only available from the Tazewell County Clerk’s office or the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Note:  It is not uncommon for Tazewell County residents to die across the Illinois River in one of the major hospitals in Peoria.  When this situation occurs, be aware the death certificate is issued by Peoria County rather than Tazewell.

Accessing Death Records

Prior to 1878

Tazewell County did not record deaths prior to 1878.  We suggest checking for obituaries and probate records as well as checking an online Social Security Death Index.

1878-1915

Only the Tazewell County Clerk recorded deaths prior to 1916.  Recording of deaths was voluntary – the Tazewell County Clerk’s office estimates less than 10% of deaths prior to 1916 were recorded.

Microfiche copies of the 1877-1914 death records are also available at many depositories – including the TCGHS library and the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) system as well as major genealogical libraries. 

If a death is not found, we again recommend checking obituaries and probate records.

Research Options:

Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society Library

You can review the microfiche at our library.  If you are unable to visit, our research staff can check the microfiche for a small fee.

Tazewell County Clerk

The Tazewell County Clerk charges $5.00 for a death certificate search – whether a record is found or not.

If the death is found, an uncertified copy can be issued by the Tazewell County Clerk at no further cost.

If a certified copy is desired, the fee increases to $24 for the first copy and $15 for each additional copy.  Check out the Application for a Death Record search by the Tazewell County Clerk's office for more details.

You will be given a copy of the original certificate unless it is too fragile to be handled—in which case, you will receive an abstracted copy.

Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD)

IRAD is a system of depositories managed by the Illinois State Archives – housing the archival records of local Illinois counties, townships, municipalities and school districts.  The Illinois Regional Archives Depository covering Tazewell County is located at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois.  IRAD does not charge to access the records. However, you may be charged minor photocopy fees.  IRAD’s research policy provides more details.

1916 - 1950

Death certificates after 1916 generally show date, place and cause of death; the deceased's full name, sex, race, marital status, birth date, age at death, occupation, employer, social security number, and city & state of birthplace; father's name and birthplace; mother's maiden name and birthplace; name of the informant providing the information (usually a close family member); the filing date; certificate number; and the registrar’s name, signature and address.  Also included are certifying physician’s name & signature; sometimes the burial place and date; and the funeral home’s name and address.

Death certificates from this period are available from the Tazewell County Clerk’s office;  the Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records; or the Illinois State Archives.

Tazewell County Clerk

The Tazewell County Clerk charges $5.00 for a document search – whether a death certificate is found or not.

If the death is found, an uncertified copy can be issued by the Tazewell County Clerk at no further cost.

If a certified copy is desired, the fee increases to $24 for the first copy and $15 for each additional copy. Again, check the Application for a Death Record search by the Tazewell County Clerk's office for more details including the latest prices.

You will be given a copy of the original certificate unless it is too fragile to be handled—in which case, you will receive an abstracted copy.

Illinois Department of Public Health

The Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records charges $10.00 for a copy of the original paper death record (must specify “Genealogical Copy”) ($2 for each extra copy).  A certified copy is $19.00 ($4 for each extra copy).

See how to obtain a death certificate from the Illinois Department of Public Health for additional details, restrictions, and current prices.

Illinois State Archives

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has provided the Illinois State Archives with microfilm copies of Illinois death certificates for 1916–1950.  Additional years may be added from time to time (By law, IDPH can only make public death certificates that are more than 50 years old).  The Illinois State Archives has created a searchable online index:

Illinois Death Certificates Database, 1916-1950

The State Archives has additional information on the index contents including search tips on their website.

If you want to obtain an uncertified copy of the original death certificate, for each decedent make note of name; date of death; name of county and, if provided, township where the death took place; and death certificate number. 

Prior to November 15, 2002, the Illinois State Archives offered free uncertified copies of death certificates dating from 1916 to 1947 to all patrons who requested them by email, telephone, or postal mail. Unfortunately, the demand for those records so overwhelmed their staff, the service had to be discontinued.  You now have a couple of options:

1.    Visit the Illinois State Archives Reference Room in Springfield

You are welcome to visit the Archives and use the microfilm to lookup the death certificates on your own. The staff will get you started but can't do your research for you.  (Assuming you already have a list of the info from the index, It's really not that difficult – you can get copies of dozens of death certificates in a single visit.)  There will be a small charge for photocopies.

2.    Illinois State Genealogical Society Death Certificate Lookup Service

If you can’t or don’t care to visit the Archives in person, the Illinois State Genealogical Society (ISGS) has a certificate lookup service – their staff will visit the Archives Reference Room and do the work for you. They charge a fee to cover their staff's time - $6 for ISGS members, $10 for non-members.

1951 - Present

Death certificates from this period are only available from the Tazewell County Clerk’s office or the Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records.

Tazewell County Clerk

The Tazewell County Clerk charges $5.00 for a document search – whether a death certificate is found or not.

If the death is found and is more than 20 years ago, an uncertified copy can be issued by the Tazewell County Clerk at no further cost.  If the death is less than 20 years ago, only certified copies are available.

If a certified copy is desired, the fee increases to $24 for the first copy and $15 for each additional copy. Again, check the Application for a Death Record search by the Tazewell County Clerk's office for more details including the latest prices.

You will be given a copy of the original certificate unless it is too fragile to be handled—in which case, you will receive an abstracted copy.

Illinois Department of Public Health

The Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records charges $10.00 for a copy of the original paper death record (must specify “Genealogical Copy”) ($2 for each extra copy).  A certified copy is $19.00 ($4 for each extra copy).

Note: Genealogical Copies are only available if the death occurred at least 20 years ago.  

Since 2008, all certified “copies” are issued from a database rather than the original certificate. 

See how to obtain a death certificate from the Illinois Department of Public Health for additional details, restrictions, and current prices.

All information on this page was current as of March 2019.
Let us know if you find any information is out of date.