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Vital Records at the Archives & Library of the Ohio History Connection


Death Records

Death records typically provide the individual’s date of death, the 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 ledger book from 1867 to December 19, 1908. Deaths that occurred on December 20, 1908 to the present are recorded by local vital statistics offices and the Ohio Department of Health in a certificate format.

What records do we have?

The Archives & Library holds probate court death records for some Ohio counties, but not all. We hold Ohio Department of Health death certificates from December 20, 1908 through 1963. We also hold Ohio Stillborn Death Certificates from December 20, 1908 through 1935 and 1942 through 1953, as well as Columbus Death Certificates from 1904 through 1908. 

We do not hold records of deaths that occurred in 1964 to the present. Information about accessing these records is provided below.


Before 1867

It was not required by law to keep death records in Ohio until 1867. Although the official records do not exist, you may be able to find information about these events from other sources.  

Newspapers

Search for a death notice or obituary in the newspaper. This is a hit-or-miss proposition. Depending on the time period, the notices are scattered throughout the newspaper.  Search the Online Collections Catalog to determine what newspapers we have available for which time periods. You can browse our newspaper collection by year, county, and city by using the "Browse By..." link on the Collections Catalog home page or via the link above. Some Ohio newspapers are freely available online and keyword searchable on Chronicling America and Ohio Memory

Church Records

If you know where the person was living and what church the family attended, you may be able to find baptismal, christening, funeral, burial or other records. Because the Archives & Library does not hold church records, it is best to contact the church or church archives directly.

Will and Estate Records

For deaths occurring before 1852, check for records in the Supreme Court of Ohio or county court of common pleas, chancery section. Also review Ohio Wills and Estates to 1850: an Index by Carol Willsey Bell [R 929.3771 B413], available in the Archives & Library for research.  For deaths occurring after 1852, check for records in the county probate court.

The best way to find out what records are housed in the Archives & Library is to search the Online Collections Catalog by the county and court name (for example: Knox County Probate).


1867 - December 19, 1908

In 1867, it became a statewide law to record deaths at the probate court of the county where the death occurred. Death records were one-line entries in ledger books listing additional information such as birthplace and cause of death. Records will have space to include the deceased's parents names, but this information is dependent on the informant knowing and providing the correct information. Some records may have indexes to direct you to the volume and page number on which a person’s record can be found.

There is no statewide index to these records before December 20, 1908, so you need to know the county of death to find a record. If the county of death is not known, search the U.S. Census to identify possible counties.

The Archives & Library holds probate court death records for some Ohio counties, but not all. The best way to find out which probate court records or published indexes are available in the Archives & Library is to search the Online Collections Catalog. For example, search: Knox County Probate Court Death.

For death records not in our collection, contact the local Probate Court or county archives to find out where the records are housed.

In the past, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints microfilmed Ohio county courthouse records, and many are available digitally on their website, www.familysearch.org. The website is free, but you will have to sign up for an account to view the original documents. You can search the collection cited below for your ancestors, but because the database is not entirely name indexed your ancestor may not appear after a search.  You can browse the collection on Family Search by county using the link at the bottom of the page, Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001. 

Online Collection Catalog for Print Material



Requesting Ohio Death Record Copies between 1867 - December 19, 1908

If you have an exact place and year of death for someone who died in Ohio between 1867-December 19, 1908, you can submit an Indexed Public Records Copy Request form. The exact citation to the event should have the following:

  • Full legal name of the person documented by the record

  • Type of record being requested (for example: death)

  • The year that the death occurred

  • County or city in Ohio where the death occurred

We can research one single spelling of a name per order. It takes four to six weeks for us to process and respond to a death record request. Orders cannot be canceled or refunded once processed. Information about cost and the form for submitting the request is available at the link below.


Requesting Ohio Death Record Research between 1867-December 20, 1908

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:

  • Full legal name of the person documented by the record

  • Type of record being researched (for example: death)

  • Approximate year of the death (must be within a 10-year time span)

  • County or city in Ohio where the death happened

We can research one single spelling of a name per order. It takes four to six weeks for us to process and respond to a death record request. Orders cannot be canceled or refunded once processed. Information about cost and the form for submitting the request is available at the link below.

Please note: We can research Ohio stillborn death certificates up to 1935.


December 20, 1908 - 1963

Deaths occurring within this time period were recorded with the Ohio Department of Health and are available through the Archives & Library.

The Ohio Death Record Index includes Ohio death record indexes from 1913–1944 and 1954–1963. Off-site researchers can use the online index to order copies of the death certificates. Even if the certificate you need is in not in our index, you can order it online by using the online request form. Information about ordering death certificates through the mail is on the left-hand side of this page.

Microfilm indexes from December 20, 1908 - 1953 are available at the Archives & Library.


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 and December 31, 1963, you can submit an Ohio Death Certificate Request Form. You can also order online through the Ohio Death Record Index. The exact citation to the event should have the full legal name of the deceased, the year of death and at least one of the following:

  • Certificate number

  • Day and/or month of death 

  • County or city in Ohio where the death occurred

Death certificates from 1908 through 1953 are sent as hard copies through the U.S. Postal Service. Certificates from 1954 through 1963 are transmitted via email. 

If a death certificate order needs canceled, please contact us within 24 hours of placing the order. Orders can be edited if needed by emailing death@ohiohistory.org before processing. Orders cannot be canceled or refunded once processed.

Certified copies of death certificates can be obtained from the local Ohio county health department where the death occurred. To Apostille certified copies, contact the Ohio Secretary of State's Office. We can verify death certificate copies (stamp) for non-legal purposes (ex. DAR applications).

We can research one single spelling of a name per order. It takes two to four weeks for us to process and respond to a death certificate request. Information about cost and the form for submitting the request is available at the link below.


Requesting Ohio Death Record Research between December 20, 1908 - 1954

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:

  • Full legal name of the person documented by the record

  • Type of record being researched (for example: death)

  • Approximate year of the death (must be within a 10-year time span)

  • County or city in Ohio where the death happened

Death certificate research is not available for the years 1954-1963. The best available index for this period is the Ohio Death Record Index.

It takes four to six weeks for us to process and respond to a research request. Orders cannot be canceled or refunded once processed. Information about cost and the forms for submitting the request are available at the links below.


1964 - present

The Archives & Library does not have copies of these records. Deaths occurring within this period are recorded with the Ohio Department of Health, Office of Vital Statistics. Certificates can also be obtained through city or county vital statistics offices.

Ohio Department of Health
Office of Vital Statistics
225 Neilston St.
Columbus, OH 43215
614) 466-2531
VitalStat@odh.ohio.gov
http://www.odh.ohio.gov/vs


How To Order Death Certificates

Death certificates can be ordered online through the index or by mail. Our online index for 1913-1944 and 1954-1963 http://resources.ohiohistory.org/death/.

To order online, enter the name of the deceased through the link above and select “Search”.

Check the box next to the index listing to add it to your list.

Then you will see above right corner: "View Bag".

Click on the “View Bag" link.  Now you will see a “Purchase” button. This will take you to our online store where you can “add to cart” the exact certificate you need and then purchase online.

Though there are gaps from 1908-1912 and 1945-1953 in our index, these records can still be ordered online using the online request form at http://resources.ohiohistory.org/death/request.php or by mail.

If you are unable to locate the person in the index and have the county and exact year/month/day of death, please complete the Death Certificate Request Form found below.

If you are unable to locate the person in the index and need a search of a ten-year span of time, please complete the Death Certificate Research Request Form found below.


Can't Find What You Are Looking For?

From 1867 to December 19, 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 the court.

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.

If an entry is incorrect in the index, please send corrected information to death@ohiohistory.org. Death certificate corrections can be made by submitting a notarized affidavit to the State Archives office. You can download a copy of the affidavit here [.docx format].

If we cannot find a death record or certificate for someone who died in Ohio, you should consider contacting the county probate court or health department where the individual was at the time of death. 

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