Birth records typically provide an individual’s date of birth and parents’ names. Depending on the time period, there are different ways to access birth records. In Ohio, it became a statewide law to record births in 1867. Each county's probate court was responsible for recording the birth as a single line entry in a register between 1867 to 1908. Births that occurred after December 19, 1908 are recorded by the Ohio Department of Health in a certificate format. Before 1867, consider using "substitute" resources, like Census entries or christening records or birth notices in a community's newspaper, as written proof of a birth.
Birth records between 1867 through 1908 are publicly available. The Ohio History Connection holds probate court records from several Ohio counties. If the county's birth records are held in our archives, research can be done at our Archives/Library.
How you search for records depends on the time period in which the person was born. You need to know the person’s county and approximate time period of birth.
Before 1850 Census:
Search 1820, 1830 and 1840 U.S. Censuses. Only the head of the household is listed and other family members appear as hash marks. If there is no name of a child during these years, it is difficult to prove that a hash mark is an ancestor.
Search Ancestry.com or Heritage Quest to see in what counties households with the same surname were living. It may provide a clue to the country of birth for an ancestor.
Censuses after 1850 list all the members of the household and should give an approximate year of birth for an ancestor listed.
Search for a birth notice in a newspaper. This is a hit-or-miss proposition. If they appear at all, the notices are scattered throughout the newspaper.
1867-December 19, 1908:
In 1867, it became a statewide law to record births at the probate court of the county where the birth occurred. There is no statewide index to these records prior to December 20, 1908.
If the county of birth is not known, search the Federal Censuses of Ohio to identify possible counties where the family lived at the time of the child's birth.
December 20, 1908-present:
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 search: Knox County Probate Court Birth*.
For probate court birth records not held by the Ohio History Connection, you may wish to contact the local probate court directly. The probate court may still hold the records or tell you if they transferred their court records elsewhere.
For birth records not in our collections, check the Library and Newspapers database of the Online Collections Catalog for indexes done by county genealogical and historical societies.
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 was born, you may consider reviewing all of the records from that year or group of years.
Although Ohio law required births to be recorded, this did not always happen. A family member, the doctor or the township assessor was responsible for reporting the birth to the probate court, but sometimes none of these individuals did so. If the birth occurred after 1867, but you cannot find a government record entered in the probate court's register of births, consider using "substitute" resources. Census entries or christening records or birth notices in a community's newspaper serve as the written proof of a birth.
Contact us for help at firstname.lastname@example.org or 614.297.2510.
Requesting Ohio Birth Record Copies between 1867-1908
If you have an exact place and year of birth for someone who was born in Ohio between 1867-1908, you can submit an Indexed Public Records Copy Request. The exact citation to the event should have the following:
- Full Name of the person documented by the record
- Type of record being requested (for example: birth record)
- Year or Date that the birth occurred
- City or County in Ohio where the birth occurred
Information about cost and the form for submitting a copy request is available at the link below.
Indexed Public Record Copy Request Form
Requesting Ohio Birth Record Research between 1867-1908
If you know that a person was born in Ohio, but you do not have the exact year of birth, you can request research for a record of birth during a ten year time frame. Because there is no statewide index to Ohio births that happened before December 20, 1908, it is necessary to know the county or city in Ohio where the person was born. The citation to the event must include the following:
- Full name of the person documented by the record
- The type of record being researched (for example: birth)
- The county or city in Ohio where the birth happened
- The approximate year of the birth (must be within a 10 year time span).
Information about cost and the form for submitting a research request is available at the link below.
Research Request Form