Ohio Vital Records

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Introduction to Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents. United States Vital Records has additional research guidance on researching and using vital records. A copy or an extract of most original records can be purchased from the Ohio Vital Records State Department of Health or the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred.

Vital Records Collage.JPG

Vital Records Reference Dates[edit | edit source]

Ohio's vital records start the following years:

Births Marriages Deaths
Earliest 1867 County Formation 1867
Statewide Registration 1908 1949 1908
General Compliance

Ohio Birth, Marriage and Death Records[edit | edit source]

The following is a list of online resources useful for locating Ohio Vital Records which consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths. Most online resources for Ohio Vital Records are indexes. After locating a person in an index always consult the original record to confirm the information

Birth Records[edit | edit source]

Birth and Death Records[edit | edit source]

County-level registrations of births and deaths began in 1867 and were kept by the probate court; however, they are incomplete. A few counties have records dating from the 1840s. These records include the names of the parents and their place of residence. The obligatory recording on a state level of births and deaths in Ohio began 20 December 1908.
Birth and death records prior to 20 December 1908 are available from the probate court of the county where the event occurred. For more information see the Ohio County Birth Records and Ohio County Death Records pages.

Wiki articles describing online collections are found at:

County or City Health Departments[edit | edit source]

These records are in the county or city health departments. The state-level birth records usually contain a child's name, place and date of birth, sex, race, name and birthplace of father, and maiden name and birthplace of mother. The state-level death records usually include a child's name, place and date of death, sex, age at death, marital state, place of birth, parents, occupation, cause of death, and last residence.

Delayed and corrected registrations of births are also available for many counties at the Family History Library. Another source for vital statistics is the large collection of family Bible and cemetery records compiled by the Daughters of the American Revolution also (see the "Ohio" page).

The Ohio Department of Health and Vital Statistics [1]in Columbus has birth records since 20 December 1908 to the present. They can be contacted for copies of records.

Marriage Records[edit | edit source]

The statewide registration of marriages began 7 September 1949. Records after that date can be obtained from the Division of Vital Statistics. The original marriage records, however, are filed with the probate judge in each county. A statewide index to marriages since 1949 is at the Division of Vital Statistics (address above).

Before statewide registration, individual counties recorded marriages, generally from the date the county was created. These include marriage records, marriage returns, marriage consents of minors by parents, and ministers' license records. Marriage records are considered one of Ohio's most valuable genealogical sources because of their early beginnings and completeness. Marriage records show the names of the bride and groom, the date of the marriage, the county in which the marriage occurred, and the officiating individual. Sometimes there is information about the ages and residences of the bride and groom. Parents are not usually named in records dated before 1900. Each county maintains a marriage index. 

For each county in Ohio, the Family History Library has microfilmed the marriage records up to 1910 and some to 1970. Many existing county records of marriages before 1876 have been indexed in the International Genealogical Index, available at the Family History Library and at Family History Centers. However, 25 counties have large information gaps or are not included in this index.

Marriage Laws[edit | edit source]

The first law regulating marriages in the Territory was published in the fall of 1788, at Marietta.

Section 1. Provided that males of the age of fourteen, and not prohibited by the laws of God, might be joined in marriages.
Section 2. Provided that any of the Judges of the General Court or Common Pleas or ministers of any religious society within the district in which they resided, might solemnize marriages.
Section 3. Provided that before being joined in marriage, the parties should give notice of their intentions by having them proclaimed the preceding Sabbath in their congregation; or notices in writing under the hand and seal of one of the Judges before mentioned, or a Justice of the Peace of the county, and posted in some public place in the town where the parties respectively resided or a license might be obtained from the Governor, under his hand and seal, authorizing the marriage without the publication aforesaid.

A supplementary act was passed August I, 1792, empowering every Justice of the Peace to solemnize marriages in their respective counties, after publication aforesaid, or upon license.

Online Marriage Records[edit | edit source]

Published Early Marriage Records[edit | edit source]

  • Ohio Marriages Extracted from the Old Northwest Genealogical Quarterly. [2]

For the southwestern region of the state, the Hamilton County, Ohio, marriage records often include the names of couples who lived in the Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky Counties along the Ohio River. A published marriage index for 1817 to 1840 is available at the Family History Library in:

  • Hamilton County, Ohio, Marriage Index. [3]

The marriages of those living in the northeastern area of Ohio may be found in:

  • Marriage Notices from the Ohio Observer Series, 1827-1855. [4]

The Family History Library has a number of compact discs with vital records information from many states in the Automated Resource Center (ARC). For Ohio, the following may be helpful:

  • Marriage Records [5]This file was acquired from the "Hunting for Bears" collection. Marriage information for Ohio is listed in part two. At the beginning of the list, unknown county records are given. (The introduction to this file gives information regarding the dates listed and the extraction methods used. It is not a complete index of all Ohio marriage records.)
  • Marriage Index [6]The Ohio marriage data was acquired from Liahona, Inc. This CD uses the Soundex code for quick access to surnames and gives references to the Family History Library film number for each entry. The CD lists marriages by county and gives the dates covered.

Gretna Greens. When an eloping Ohio couple's marriage is not in their home county, search for it in alternate places like:[7][8]

Many eloping couples went to Cincinnati, Hamilton County, or Aberdeen, Brown County, Ohio to be married and to avoid the waiting period between the time of issuing a license and the performance of the marriage.

Wiki articles describing online collections are found at:

Death Records[edit | edit source]

Cincinnati - Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum 'Civil War Soldier at Sunset'.jpg

Records include such information as birth date of deceased, city, county, and state of death, name of spouse if married, names of parents, maiden name of mother, name of informant, if deceased was single, married, windowed or divorced, occupation of deceased.

Wiki articles describing online collections are found at:

Cause of Death[edit | edit source]

  • Causes of Death - use this resource when trying to interpret a disease or medical condition listed on a death record or certificate

Divorce Records[edit | edit source]

Divorce proceedings were usually recorded by the state supreme court before 1852, but petitions were filed in the county court. Since then all records have been kept in the court of common pleas in each county. Records of divorce granted before 7 September 1949 may be recorded in the County Clerk of Courts Office of the county where the divorce was granted. Divorce records since 7 September 1949 are recorded at the Ohio Department of Health in Columbus.

Certified copies of divorce records after 1949 are not available from the Ohio Department of Health. Certified copies of earlier divorce records may be available from the Court of Common Pleas where the divorce was granted. The Family History Library has few of these files. One significant publication is:

  • Ohio Divorces: The Early Years [11]

Early records have been indexed:

Additional Helps[edit | edit source]

Tips[edit | edit source]

  • Information listed on vital records is given by an informant.  Learn the relationship of the informant to the subject(s) of the record.  The closer the relationship of the informant to the subject(s) and whether or not the informant was present at the time of the event can help determine the accuracy of the information found on the record.
  • If you are unable to locate vital records recorded by governments, search for church records of christening, marriage, death or burial. A family Bible may have been used to record births, marriages, and deaths.
  • Privacy laws may restrict your access to some vital records. Copies of some vital records recorded in the last 100 years may be unavailable to anyone except a direct relative.

Burned, Lost, or Missing Records[edit | edit source]

For suggestions regarding record loss see: Burned Counties Research in FamilySearch Wiki.

Substitute Records[edit | edit source]

These links will take you to wiki pages describing alternate sources for birth, marriage and death records.

  • Church Records: Depending on the denomination, church records may contain information about birth, marriage and death.
  • Cemetery Records: Cemetery records are a rich source of birth and death information.  These records may also reveal family relationships.
  • Census Records: Census records are a valuable source for birth and marriage information. You may also determine approximate time of death when the individual disappear from the census. This is a good place to begin a search.
  • Newspapers: Besides obituaries, local newspapers may contain birth and marriage announcements and death notices.  Also check newspaper social columns for additional information. 
  • Periodicals: Local genealogical and historical societies often publish periodicals which may contain abstracted early birth, marriage and death information.
  • Military Records:  Military pension records can give birth, marriage and death information,  In addtion, soldiers' homes records can included this same information.
  • Obituaries: Obituaries found in newspapers can list the age of the deceased, birth date and place, death date and place, and names of living relatives and their residences.
  • Probate Records: If no death record exists, probate records may be helpful in estimating when an individual has died. Probate records in the 20th Century often contain the exact death date.
  • History:  Local histories, family histories and biographies can all be sources of birth, marriage and death information. Often this information is found in county-level records or in surname searches of the FamilySearch Catalog.

More Online Ohio Vital Records Links[edit | edit source]

These websites contain many, many links to deaths, obituaries and other Ohio records.

  • OhioGenWeb - Free
  • German Roots Links for Ohio Birth & Marriage and Death Records - Free/$ This site includes all vital records, not just those of German descent

Wiki articles describing online collections are found at:

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Division of Vital Statistics Ohio Department of Health; 246 North High Street, Columbus, OH 43215; Telephone: 614-466-2531
  2. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Film 928183 item 3, fiche 6051390, book 977.1 V25s. Ancestry ($). Smith, Marjorie, ed. Ohio Marriages Extracted from the Old Northwest Genealogical Quarterly. Thomson, Illinois: Heritage House, 1977-80. (Family History Library book 977.1 V25s; film 928183 item 3; fiche 6051390.)
  3. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 977.177 V22h Hughes, Lois E. Hamilton County, Ohio, Marriage Index. Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Book, c. 1994. (Family History Library book 977.177 V22h.)
  4. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 977.1 V2c Caccamo, James F. Marriage Notices from the Ohio Observer Series, 1827-1855. Apollo, Pennsylvania: Closson Press, 1994. (Family History Library book 977.1 V2c.)
  5. Marriage Records. CD/Automated Archives, numbers 2-5. Orem, Utah: Automated Archives, 1994. (Family History Library compact disc number 9, pt. 2-5; does not circulate to Family History Centers.)
  6. Marriage Index. Family Tree Maker's Family Archives, Number 400. Orem, Utah: Brøderbund, 1996. (Family History Library compact disc number 9, part 400; disc does not circulate to Family History Centers.)
  7. Arlene H. Eakle, "Have you searched and searched for a marriage without finding it?" in Genealogy Blog at http://www.arleneeakle.com/wordpress/2007/02/19/have-you-searched-and-searched-for-the-marriage-without-finding-it/ (accessed 8 January 2011).
  8. Arlene H. Eakle, "Charles H. Browning and Your Genealogy" in Genealogy Blog at http://www.arleneeakle.com/wordpress/2007/11/30/charles-h-browning-and-your-genealogy/ (accessed 8 January 2011).
  9. Certificates of Death, 1908-1944; Index, 1908-1911 Columbus, Ohio: Ohio Historical Society. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1983, 1994-1995. WorldCat 34521028 (On 1214 Family History Library films Death Index List.)
  10. Ohio Historical Society, comp. Death Index, 1908- 1944. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1983, 1992, 1995. FHL 929253
  11. Bell, Carol Willsey. Ohio Divorces: The Early Years. Boardman, Ohio: Bell Books, 1994. (Family History Library book 977.1 V2b.)