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Ohio Genealogy

Anyone looking into Ohio genealogy is in luck. It's an "open record" state, which means that all vital records (births, deaths, marriages) are open to the public. It's very easy to get documentation on anyone in your family tree.

Ohio Vital Records

The official collection of birth and death records started in 1908 in Ohio but individual counties have their own archives farther back into the mid to late 1800s. For anything earlier than 1908, you will have to get in touch with the county clerk's office to see what they have on file.

Otherwise, you can make your birth or death records request from the Vital Statistics office in Columbus. This office doesn't handle marriage records either, and those are kept at the county probate court where the marriage is registered. The fee for these files is $3 each.

The application forms to send a request to the Vital Statistics office can be downloaded from the Ohio Department of Health website. There is one form for both birth and death records, so just fill out the sections you need to. The fee for a birth or death record is $21.50, whether they find what you want or not. Checks or money orders should be issued to the "Treasurer, State of Ohio". For an additional $3, they will perform a 10-year search if you do not know the exact date of the events on the certificate.

You can take your application to the office yourself, and typically get while-you-wait service. If you mail your papers in to them, you will have a 3 to 6 week wait.

Ohio State Archives

Though it is very easy to get a copy of any vital record, your need for Ohio genealogy material will likely go beyond these simple documents. It's at the archives where you can find a multitude of different types of records, often rounding out your genealogy work once the vital records are acquired.

Their collection includes most vital records (because they are public documents) which means you could also come to the archives and make yourself a photocopy rather than pay the Vital Statistics office. Their holdings also include land documents, school records, census records, military rosters, naturalization files, newspaper archives, Civil War material and a lot more.

The archives are part of the Ohio Historical Society, and are located in Columbus. They are open Wednesday through Saturday. Check their website for specific hours but they generally open at 10am. If you are not in the Columbus area for your Ohio genealogy work, you can contact the staff and make some limited research requests.

Ohio Genealogy Groups

A further resource would be one of the many Ohio genealogy societies. They often have their own document collections and you can usually get access to private material from other members. There are two state-wide groups: the Ohio Genealogy Society and the Ohio Historical Society.

You can also specialize a little more closely if you join smaller county-based groups. Ohio has one for every county in the state. Other regions are represented also, such as the Cincinnati Historical Society Library or the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society.

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