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Death Records

Research your family history using death records
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Death records typically provide the individual’s date of death, cause of death, residence and additional biographical information.  Depending on the time period, there are different ways to access death records. In Ohio, it became a statewide law to record deaths in 1867. Each county's probate court was responsible for recording the death as a single line entry in a register between 1867-1908. Deaths that occurred after December 19, 1908 are recorded by the Ohio Department of Health in a certificate format. If you are researching a death before 1867, consider using "substitute" resources, like mortality schedules, will records, estate case files, or death notices in a community's newspaper, as written proof of a death.

Access

Death records are publicly available. The Ohio History Connection holds probate court death records for several Ohio counties between 1867-1908. Copies of Ohio Department of Health death certificates from December 20, 1908-December 31, 1963 are available through the Archives/Library at the Ohio History Center.

Ohio Department of Health Stillborn Death Certificates (December 20, 1908-1935, and 1942-1946) – Information includes name of deceased, sex, date and cause of death, place of burial, names and birthplaces of parents, and mother’s address. It may include race, age, and occupation of parents, and number and mortality of siblings.

City of Columbus Board of Health Death Certificates (1904–1908) – Information includes name of deceased, date and cause of death, race, sex, last known address, and place of burial. Other fields provided for birth date, marital status, birth place, and names and birthplaces of parents.

Search Tips

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:

  • 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 the book 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.

1867-December 19, 1908

  • In July 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 Federal Censuses to identify possible counties where the person's family was living.

December 20, 1908-1963

  • On December 20, 1908, the Ohio Department of Health began recording all deaths in the state of Ohio. The Ohio History Connection holds the Ohio Department of Health Death Certificates from December 20, 1908-December 31, 1963.
  • The Select Ohio Public Records Index includes Ohio death record indexes from 1913–1944 and 1954–1963. We have microfilm indexes from December 20, 1908-1953 at our Archives/Library. If you do not find the name you are searching for in the indexes, remember that our archivists are always here to help guide your search.  If you have questions, please contact us at reference@ohiohistory.org or 614.297.2510.

1964-present:

  • The Ohio Division of Vital Statistics holds death certificates for persons who died in the state of Ohio from 1964 to the 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 Death*.
  • For probate court death 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 death records not in our collections, check the Online Collections Catalog for indexes done by county genealogical and historical societies.
  • Ohio Department of Health Death Certificates December 20, 1908-1963 are readily available in the Ohio History Center Archives/Library's Research Rooms. Indexes are organized by year and by last name. Indexes will provide the certificate number you will need to find the record of death.

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.
  • If you have questions, please contact us at reference@ohiohistory.org or 614.297.2510.

 

Requesting Ohio Death Record Copies between 1867-1908

If you have an exact place and year of Death for someone who died in Ohio between 1867-1908, you can submit an Indexed Public Records Copy Request. The exact citation to the event should have the following:

  1. Full Name of the person documented by the record
  2. Type of record being requested (for example: death record)
  3. Year or Date that the death occurred
  4. City or County in Ohio where the death occurred

Information about cost and the form for submitting the request is available at the link below.

Indexed Public Record Copy Request Form

Requesting Ohio Death Certificate Copies between December 20, 1908-1963

If you have an exact place and year of Death for someone who died in Ohio between December 20, 1908 to December 31, 1963 you can submit an Ohio Death Certificate Request Form. The exact citation to the event should have the Full Name of the deceased, the Year of Death and at least one of the following:

  1. Certificate Number
  2. Day/Month of Death
  3. City or County in Ohio where the death occurred

Information about cost and the form for submitting the request is available at the link below.

Ohio Death Certificate Request Form

Requesting Ohio Death Record Research between 1867-1963

If you know that a person died in Ohio, but you do not have the exact year of death, you can request research for a record of death during a ten year time frame. Because there is no statewide index to Ohio deaths that happened before December 20, 1908, it is necessary to know the county or city in Ohio where the person died. The citation to the event must include the following:

  1. Full name of the person documented by the record
  2. The type of record being researched (for example: death)
  3. The county or city in Ohio where the death happened
  4. The approximate year of the death (must be within a 10 year time span).

Information about cost and the forms for submitting the request are available at the links below.

Death research from 1867-1908 can be requested using the following form:

Research Request Form

Death research from December 20, 1908-December 31, 1963 can be requested using the following form:

Death Research Request Form

 

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