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Boreal Community Media

COOK COUNTY CONNECTIONS: Preserving Documents and Protecting Individual Rights

Mar 06, 2020 08:52AM ● By Editor

Walking into the Recorder’s Office is like walking into a giant history book! We have records that date back to the late 1800s, from patents signed by famous presidents and deeds issued to your ancestors to easements and mortgages for your property today.

It is the mission of the Recorder’s Office to promptly record, file and preserve documents in an efficient, responsible and professional manner for posterity and legal purposes.

We add value by:

  • Protecting ownership through the maintenance of all parcel transactional records
  • Protecting individual rights through the recording and maintenance of vital records such as birth certificates, death certificates and marriage licenses
  • Assisting a variety of individuals, from historians to realtors, on the basics of how to search for the information they need

 We are responsible for recording real estate documents, providing a traceable chain or title to the property. To that end, we maintain a permanent repository of recorded documents for real property. The recording process has changed significantly over the years. We have gone from hand-written documents to typed forms to photocopied papers to digitized records. As time allows, we have been entering and indexing older documents into digital form, which makes it easier to search for records.

This process has also made our online program, idocmarket, a more useful and valuable tool for real estate attorneys, title companies, realtors, surveyors and the general public. You can search all records dating back to 1955 – and the majority of recorded deeds back to 1950. [Idocmarket is an online tool offered through a vendor. Individuals can access the site 24/7 from their own computer for a fee at]

Minnesota has two types of property, Abstract Title and Torrens (Registered). One of the most common questions we are asked is what the difference is between the two. Abstract Title is most common. It comprises a collection of legal documents, or chain of title, that records transactions associated with a parcel of land. This includes any legal documents that affect the property.

Torrens (Registered) property is property where the title has been adjudicated under the authority of Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 508. The owner is issued a Certificate of Title, which assures that no one else has any claim to the property.  Each time that an owner transfers the property, the Registrar of Titles reviews the transfer and issues a new Certificate of Title.

The Recorder’s Office does not have a survey for every property in the county; it is not a requirement that they be recorded. If we do have a survey, it has been given to us for informational purposes only. Therefore, if you are trying to determine where your property line is or have other questions, we recommend that you contact a registered land surveyor.

In addition to being recorders of real estate records, we also serve as a vital records office. As such, we issue certified birth and death certificates and marriage licenses, and we record ordination credentials and notary commission registrations. We also issue certified birth certificates for the entire state of Minnesota back to 1935, if you have tangible interest.

Additionally, the Recorder’s Office can issue 1) certified death certificates for the entire state of Minnesota back to 1997; 2) death certificates back to the early 1900s for deaths that occurred in Cook County; and 3) certified copies of marriage certificates back to the early 1900s, if you applied for your marriage license in Cook County. (Marriage records are kept in the office where you apply for your license, not necessarily where you are married.) Interestingly, more and more people are recording their marriage ordination credentials: once these are on record, that individual can officiate a marriage anywhere in the state of Minnesota.

The Recorder’s Office also serves as the repository for military discharge records. Once these records have been recorded in our office, veterans can get certified copies of their records for free. This, like the many services outlined above, supports our goal of preserving documents and protecting individual rights.

Additional information is available online at or by calling 218-387-3660.

County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service