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Ohio: Local History & Genealogy Resource Guide

Courthouse Records

County level research is essential in the pursuit of family and local history. The list below highlights the most common county courthouse records used by genealogists, but there are many more record sets available. Use the guides below and explore the specific resources for the counties of interest to assure that you locate all pertinent documents.

When requesting courthouse records, inquire about both docket books and paper files. Often both types of material exist for each record. While the two formats may merely repeat the data, one may be easier to read than the other. And, in many cases, there are further details, unique notations, over-sized pages such as maps, and so on, that are filed in only the docket book or in only the paper file. Seeing both will provide a more complete review of the record.

Birth Records
  • Courthouse Records: 1867-1908
    Generally maintained by: Clerk of Probate Court at each county courthouse. Some of these records were maintained as card files.
    (Also see the Vital Records section of this guide.)

Note: Some counties recorded births as early as the 1850's, but records are incomplete and vary from county to county.

Civil Lawsuits
  • Generally maintained by: Clerk of Courts
Coroner's Reports
  • Coroner's Inquests
  • Generally maintained by: Coroner or Clerk of Courts of Common Pleas

Note: If the cause of death is suspicious or unknown, the Coroner's office is responsible for conducting an inquest. This includes accidental deaths, criminal violence, suicide, sudden deaths, in detention, or in any suspicious or unusual circumstances. In Ohio, the coroner must be a licensed physician and is elected for four years.

Criminal Court
  • Generally maintained by: Clerk of Courts of Common Pleas

Note: After 1852, the Courts of Common Pleas separated from Probate record.

  • Generally maintained by: Recorder of Deeds
Divorce Records
  • 1804 to present
    Generally maintained by: State Supreme Court and the Court of Common Pleas in each respective county.
    (Also see the Vital Records section of this guide.)
  • Note: Records of divorces might be found in Supreme Court Records, Chancery records, Common Pleas records, District Court records, and elsewhere. Early divorces may appear in the State Supreme Court, but appeals were filed in each county. After 1913, counties began filing divorces in the Domestic Relations Court division of the Court of Common Pleas.
Marriage Records
  • Formation of the County - 1857
    Generally maintained by: Probate Court
  • 1852-1854, 1885 to present
    Generally maintained by: Clerk of Common Pleas
    (Also see the Vital Records section of this guide.)
  • Before 1851, Generally maintained by: Court of Common Pleas.
  • After 1851, maintained by: Probate Court.
  • Generally maintained by: County Auditor's Office
Probate Court Records
  • Generally maintained by: Probate Court. Probate Court handles guardianships, intestate deaths, real estate transactions, trusts, naturalization, and more. After 1852, Probate Courts took responsibility for estate records from the Court of Common Pleas.

Online Resources for Courthouse Records

The subscription resources marked with a padlock are available to researchers on-site at the Library of Congress. If you are unable to visit the Library, you may be able to access these resources through your local public or academic library.

Using Ancestry Library Edition for Ohio

Begin your search through Ancestry's vast collections, by viewing the list designated as Ohio Records External.

Collections that feature county courthouse records include:

Using FamilySearch for Ohio

FamilySearch provides useful state and county wikis that make excellent starting points for research. The Ohio Wiki External includes links to each of its 67 counties.

FamilySearch has digitized many of its microfilms containing county courthouse records. Not all records have been indexed yet, so search engine results may NOT show you the full range of FamilySearch data. You must browse the FamilySearch catalog External listings for each county to view the full set of records available. The vast amount of accessible original records is well worth your time to explore.

Courthouse documents that have been digitized include:

Published Courthouse Records

Below are selected print publications for statewide courthouse records. The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.

To locate additional published materials, go to the Print Resources section of this guide for search tips on locating published county courthouse records, abstracts, and indexes that may aide you in locating original records at the county level.