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Ohio Death Records



The Four Time Periods of Ohio Death Records


Ohio has been a state since 1803, which certainly means it has a long and storied history. As one of the more populous states in the country, Ohio has also been home to the ancestors of quite a high proportion of Americans. If your family history includes at least one member who lived in Ohio then you are going to want to learn a bit about how Ohio death records have been registered over time. That's because, during the state's long history, the registration of deaths varied considerably and it will help to know if a certain ancestor passed away in Ohio during one of the following four time periods.


Although Ohio did pass a law in the 1850s requiring the registration of deaths in the state, this law was generally ignored until 1867. That means that prior to 1867 deaths were rarely certified and that means there is no statewide database of such deaths. However, you can still find quite a bit of information about pre-1867 deaths through probate records, which are usually available through county courthouses. Also, you can search through the obituaries of archived newspapers (either through your local library or online) or by searching through local cemetery records.


In 1867 things got a little better when another law was passed requiring the registration of all deaths. While this law was generally complied with, it was usually only at the county level, meaning, again, that there is no statewide database for deaths that occurred during this period. However, if you know the county where the death occurred then the county courthouse will have a record of the death. Even if you don't know which county the death occurred in you can still use U.S. Census data to narrow down the possibilities.


Towards the end of 1908 the Ohio Department of Health became responsible for registering all deaths that occurred in the state. This means that deaths from 1908 onwards are generally much easier to search for. It also means that you should have no problems getting a certified death certificate for a death that occurred from 1908 onwards. If you are looking for a death that occurred during this period then you can submit a request for a death record through the Ohio History Connection, which also offers assistance with more general death records research for much of the state's history.


Finally, from 1963 onwards the responsibility of registering deaths in Ohio fell on the Ohio Division of Vital Statistics. The Division of Vital Statistics, therefore, will have a record of every death registered in Ohio from 1963 onwards. Death records can be ordered through the Vital Statistics office either in person, online, or by mail.

Ohio death records can seem a bit confusing at first since statewide and even county registration of deaths was far from perfect prior to the 20th century. However, while the history behind death registration in Ohio is complicated, searching for such records is generally easy and straightforward and should not present any serious obstacles.


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