Death records typically provide the individual’s date of death, cause of death, residence and additional biographical information. It became Ohio law to record deaths in 1867.
Death records are useful for compiling family histories.
Death records are publicly available. OHS has probate court death records from several counties around the state. If the person died in one of these counties between 1867 and December 19, 1908, we may have the record you want. We also have microfilm copies of Ohio Department of Health death certificates from December 20, 1908 to December 31, 1953.
Before Getting Started
How to search for records depends on the time period in which the person died. It is helpful to know the person’s county of residence and the approximate year of death. Before 1867:
1867-December 19, 1908
- Check for a will or estate record in the county probate court where the death occurred. There is no statewide index to these records.
- For wills and estates prior to 1850, review Ohio Wills and Estates by Carol Willsey Bell
- Search for a death notice or obituary in a newspaper. These may be scattered throughout the paper and appear several days after the death, if they appear at all.
- In 1867, it became a statewide law to record deaths at the probate court of the county where the death occurred. There is no statewide index to these deaths prior to December 20, 1908.
- If the county of death is not known, search the censuses to identify possible counties
December 20, 1908-1953
- On December 20, 1908, the Ohio Department of Health began recording all deaths in the state of Ohio. The Ohio Historical Society has the Ohio Department of Health Death Certificates from 12/20/1908 to 12/31/1953.
- The Online Death Certificate Index covers deaths from 1913-1944. We have microfilm indexes from December 20, 1908 to 1953. It is not perfect, so even if a death isn’t recorded here, we may still have the certificate
Searching for Items
- To determine if we have a certain county’s probate court records, do a Keyword General Search in the Manuscripts, Audio/visual and State Archives database of the Online Collections Catalog. For example try Knox County Probate Court Death.
- For probate court death records not held by the Ohio Historical Society, you may wish to contact the local probate court directly. They may still have the records or be able to direct you to another depository such as a local historical society , which now houses the records
- For death records not in our collections, check the OCC for indexes done by county genealogical and historical societies.
- Ohio Department of Health Death Certificates are readily available in the Microfilm Room. The indexes are organized by year and by last name. These will provide the certificate number you will need to find the actual record on the microfilm
Working With the Items
- Probate court death records consist of one line entries in ledger books
- Some probate court collections have indexes and others do not. These will direct you to the volume and page number on which that individual’s record can be found.
Can't Find What You're Looking For
- If you can’t find a person’s name in the index, that doesn’t mean that his/her record will not be in the actual record book. If you have a general idea of the year in which the person died, you may consider reviewing all of the records from that year or group of years.
- From 1867 to 1908, although Ohio law required deaths to be recorded, this did not always happen. A family member, the doctor, or the tax assessor was responsible for reporting the death and sometimes this didn’t happen, especially if the family lived far from court.
Death Records, Copies, and Research 1867 – December 19, 1908
The exact citation to the event should have the following:
- Full Name of the person documented by the record
- Death record
- Year or Date that the death occurred
- City or County in Ohio where the event occurred
The fee is $12.00 ($12.81 for Ohio residents) per record
Ohio Death Certificate Copy Requests December 20, 1908 to 1953
The citation must include
Death certificates can be requested using the following forms
- Full name of the person documented by the record
- County of death
- Date of death, certificate of death, or year of death
1867 to 1953
To assist our research, we will need to know
The basic research fee of $25.00 covers a 10 year time span of your choosing for a name or subject.
- The subject or name of the individual being researched
- The type of event/record being researched (for example: marriage)
- The county or city in Ohio where the event took place
- The approximate year of the event.
Death research from December 20, 1908 through 1953 can be requested using the following forms:
- Ohio Death Research Request Form (MS WORD) or (PDF).
Death research from 1867 through December 19, 1908 can be requested using the following forms: