Ohio birth records were mandated several times in history but the law was not enforced, and spotty records resulted until 1867 when records were required to be kept by the clerk of Probate Court. These records, still a bit inconsistent early on, are found at the court, and for Cuyahoga County, at the County Archives. The city of Cleveland also had Return of Birth records, made out by the midwife or physician at the time of the birth and turned in to the health department. These little slips are the most original primary birth records available for the time period. From these, a register was created, many of which are typed. The county archives has all these registers and the returns of birth as well. They are on microfilm and have been put on FamilySearch.
On December 20, 1908 these recordings became the duty of the health departments. Certificates were done where the birth occurred and there are multiple health departments in the county. A copy was then made for the state Department of Health.
Delayed and Corrected births are done in the Probate Court. A large number of these were done during World War II when people working in industries supplying the military and war effort needed security clearance and a birth certificate was required. Applications were often accompanied by affidavits from midwives or relatives who knew of the person's birth.
Births Before December 20, 1908
- "Ohio, County Births 1841-2003" searchable at FamilySearch appears to include the Return of Births 1871-1908 (the little slips), The Probate Records of Birth 1867-1908, the City of Cleveland Records of Birth , and all the indexes for them. The images of all of these are also here.
- You can browse the images here. These are the records that are housed at the Cuyahoga County Archives.
- Note for those researching adopted individuals - If you have a birth date for the individual who was put up for adoption, you can browse through the birth returns for that date and pay close attention as you just click through the returns for that entire date. Sometimes, at the end of the returns that have names on them, there are birth returns that have no name at all. I found the birth record of one of my adopted out relatives using this method.
- "Ohio, Births and Christenings, 1821-1962" on FamilySearch includes "Return of a Birth 1871-1908 for Cleveland, Ohio." These are the city slips, indexed by LDS extractors. It also includes the County Record of Births 1867-1908. No images are available here. It is searchable and browseable. This is a good second indexing option.
- The Cuyahoga County Archives - the images that appear at the site above are housed at the Cuyahoga County Archive if you'd prefer to visit in person. Or, you can email them to receive copies as well.
- Fold3 (Paid Site) "Cuyahoga County Birth Returns 1849-1908" on Fold3.
*** FREE - If you have a Cuyahoga County Public Library Card you can access Fold 3 for free from home.
Go to: http://www.cuyahogalibrary.org/genealogyexpert.aspx and click on Research, then Electronic Resources, enter your library card number and password, choose Genealogy on the left, then Fold3. Once you are on the Fold 3 page, on the far right click Browse and then choose Vital Records, then Cuyahoga County Birth Returns, then choose a year, and then the letter of the last name you are interested in.
- "Index to Births for 1867-1873, 1881-1884 and 1887-1889" (Volumes 1, 5, and 8). This index was done by Cuyahoga County Archives volunteers, Marge Doaks and Frank Muraski.
Births After December 20, 1908
Ohio Department of Health
246 North High Street
P.O. Box 15098
Columbus, OH 43215-0098
Allow 4-6 weeks upon receipt
Checks payable to "Treasury, State of Ohio" for $21.50 for each birth certificate. Uncertified copies no longer available. SASE required.
- Also, Ohio birth certificates 1909-PRESENT can be obtained from any health department in Ohio. Ask for the original, long, genealogy form rather than the transcribed computerized version. Some health departments charge lower cost than others, but none are less than $21.50 by law. Cleveland charges $25 plus an additional fee for credit card use. Cleveland also requires you to have the exact birth date, place, and name or they will not issue it. They also require a photo ID in person. You can make a research appointment at the location in City Hall in downtown Cleveland from 10 a.m. to 12:00 on weekdays and do the searching yourself.
- Index to "Cleveland Birth Affidavits and Corrections 1860-1908" on Cleveland District Round Table was done by Sara McGuire following digitization of the records at the Cuyahoga County Archives.
- "Cleveland Birth Affidavits and Corrections 1860-1908" on FamilySearch under Ohio, Cuyahoga County Records are browseable, but the index above is not yet posted there.
- Birth Corrections and Affidavits to current should be at Probate Court.
Marriage records span the entire existence of the county, 1810 to current. Applications and Returns were often done in two different places, so be sure to get both. The application had the most information, but the return is the legal statement of the actual marriage. Marriage by banns means that there was no application, the church posted or announced three times the intention of the couple and if no objection, performed the ceremony and reported it to the court. These are in separate volumes. The marriage department, although it appears separate, is technically part of Probate Court in Ohio. Originals to volume 200 are at Cuyahoga County Archives.
- "Ohio, Marriages 1800-1958" (Volumes 1-566) index only on FamilySearch.
- "Ohio, County Marriages 1789-1994" (Volumes 1-200) Index and images on FamilySearch.
- Cuyahoga County Marriage Index
Use the Search by Person section. You can search by last name only, or first and last name. The last name field must contain at least two letters. If you wish to limit your search to females or males only, click on "party role" and choose bride or groom. Under "case category" choose Marriage. When the results appear, you will have to click on each name to see more information about who that person married and the date. Disregard any dates that you see before 1998, as all records before 1998 appear to have the same date of 1900, and thus the date is not helpful or correct. However, the dates of marriage after 1998 are correct.
If you see a date of 1900 and want to learn the estimated date, make note of the VOLUME and PAGE NUMBER that appears in the individual record. Go to "Marriage Index Years" below.
- "Marriage Index Years" to see a list of the volume numbers and what years that volume covers.
- Copies of marriage for Volumes 1-200 are at the Cuyahoga County Archives. Email them at email@example.com and provide the names of the bride and groom, the volume and page number, and include your mailing address. There is no charge for a small numbers of copies.
- Copies of marriages for Volumes higher than 200 are at the Marriage License Bureau in the Old Courthouse on Lakeside Avenue.
Cuyahoga County - Probate Court
Marriage License Bureau
1 Lakeside Ave., N.W., Rm. 146
Cleveland, OH 44114
- They also have an index at the Marriage License Bureau for 1810 to the present available on microfiche. There is one microfiche viewer for the marriage indexes (one by husband's name and the other by wife's name. Certified copies are $1 each for the short form and $2 each for the long form (preferred). Uncertified long form copies are 25 cents each. They do not accept checks so send a money order or go in person and pay cash. Include a SASE if ordering by mail.
- Once you have the marriage record, you will see the name of the Pastor that performed the ceremony. Go to "Cleveland Pastors and their Churches" to look up the pastor's name and see at which church he served.
- Another place to find the religious officiant is "Cleveland Clergy" on Cleveland District Roundtable site.
- Western Reserve Historical Society has microfilm of marriages through 1960.
- Fairview Park Library has microfilm of marriages for Volume 1-200. (through October 1949)
- A small, increasing database of abstracted marriage records was submitted by Jeanette Harper, now off-site.
Death records in Ohio were mandated several times in history, but records were very spotty. They improved after the 1867 law, but were still a bit inconsistent. The Probate Court was mandated to keep these records. In addition, in Cuyahoga County, the City of Cleveland kept records from 1840 to 1908.
On 20 December 1908 the Department of Vital Statistics of the Health Department was mandated to keep death certificates. These are created in the health department of the jurisdiction where the death occurred. There are several departments in Cuyahoga County, but many have now consolidated with the City of Cleveland.
Copies of the local certificates were made and submitted to the Ohio Department of Health. Those created from 1908 to 1953 were sent to the Ohio Historical Society. Another set of years of originals is also there, but not yet indexed or available to the public.
Stillborn death certificates are separate from regular death certificates and at one point were combined with the birth certificates. Others have no birth certificate. Separate stillborn death certificates are available from December 20, 1908 to 1935 and 1942-1946.
Deaths Before December 20, 1908
Cuyahoga County Archives - firstname.lastname@example.org email and ask for a copy. Obtaining both City and County Probate records is a good idea.
"Index to Deaths 1867-1890, 1892, 1901, 1903-1904" by Cuyahoga County Archives Volunteers, Ingrid Abrams and Marge Doaks.
Deaths December 20, 1908 - Current
Death certificates are available from the Health Department where they were created, or from the Ohio Department of Health. For cost and procedure, it is similar to birth certificates.
"Ohio, Deaths 1908-1953" Indexed and images of certificates on FamilySearch.
Ohio Historical Society "Online Death Index 1913-1944." Microfilm is available in person from 1908 to 1953. Index includes stillborns and Boys and Girls Industrail Schools admissions.
To get copies write to:
Ohio Department of Health
Ohio Historical Society
Archive Library Division
800 E. 17th Avenue
Columbus OH 43211-2497
Cost is $12.84 for Ohio residents and $12.00 for non-residents per death certificate. Send a check and provide full name of decedent, year of death, at at least one of the following: Month and day of death or place of death, or certificate number. Without the 3 items above, it's considered a Research Project and it costs $25 for a ten year search. State that you want an uncertified copy.
Stillborn combination birth/death certificates December 20, 1908 to 1935 and 1942-1946 are separate from other death and birth certificates.
246 North High Street
PO Box 15098
Columbus OH 43215-0098
Cost per death cert. is $21.50 each and a self-addressed stamped envelope with enough postage for the number of certs. that you are requesting. Uncertified copies are no longer available. Provide them with the name of the deceased, county of death and approximate or exact date of death.
Additional Death Records
"Ohio Death Index 1908-1932, 1938-1944, and 1958-2007" on FamilySearch was from the Ohio Department of Health. This is also on Ancestry.com.
"Ohio Deaths and Burials 1854-1997" is an index on FamilySearch done by LDS extractors. No images are available but it is a good second opinion index.
Akron Summit County Public Library Special Collections Department has microfilm of Ohio death certificates 1908-1953. Additionally they newly added the microfilm of stillbirths mid 1918-1919 and 1922-1953. A discussion of these special certificates is in their newsletter on page 2.
Index to the above stillborns is with the Ohio Historical Society Death Certificate Index.
Cuyahoga County Archives Cuyahoga County Coroner Case Files.
The coroner is responsible for determining cause of death of those who died without medical care or under suspicious or unknown circumstances. More information is on the page for Coroner Records elsewhere on this site. An index has been made for 1833-1900.
Divorce records are held at the Old Courthouse on Lakeside Avenue. Their records cover 1882-present. Call 443-7966 for the index department to see if they have a divorce that you are interested in. If they do, ask for the Case Number and then call the microfilm room at 443-7939 to arrange to have copies mailed to you.