Since December 20, 1908, Ohio state law has required the recording of all deaths on standard death certificate forms. Prior to that date Ohio counties and some cities began keeping death records. Death records at Hamilton County Probate Court run from 1881 to 1908. The City of Cincinnati also created death records from 1865 to 1912. Many deaths were not recorded, but registration improved by the turn of the 20th century. For deaths prior to the above civil records, and in general for most of the 19th Century and earlier, we are reliant on church death/burial records. Death dates and/or parentage can sometimes also be determined from Death Notices and Obituaries, Cemeteries, and Wills and Estates.
19th Century church death/burial records
The HCGS book Hamilton County, Ohio, Church Death Records, 1811 - 1849, the five HCGS books Hamilton County, Ohio, Church Burial Records, 1850 – 1899, and our online searchable database Church Deaths 1890 – 1899 contain indexes of church deaths/burials in Hamilton County, mostly in Cincinnati. Many Roman Catholic church deaths/burials are also indexed and included.
A typical index entry consists of Name (Last name, Given name), Church burial/funeral date, Death Date if given, Maiden name if given, and Age at Death if given, and Parents name if given (sometimes for children). Some entries also include an indicator (asterisk or Y) that the Place of Birth (POB) is given and some include the newspaper page. Each index record includes a reference to the source microfilm or church source.
NOTE: These are records of church services for deaths (funerals) and are typically NOT cemetery burial records, except for some cemetery burials indexed in Church Deaths 1890-1899 (see below). To obtain information from these books:
To obtain information from the six books (1811 – 1899):
- Check WorldCat to find the books in other libraries. Click on the specific volume title, scroll down, enter your zip code and click on Find Libraries.
Church deaths 1890 - 1899:
Available online at this website is the latest and last installment of 19th Century church deaths, indexed by Jeffrey G. Herbert, covering the years 1890 through 1899. Included are 25,914 church deaths from 81 Hamilton County churches, including Roman Catholic. Also included are 8,443 burials in three Catholic cemeteries during the 1890s. This index is available in two different forms for HCGS members and non-members:
Members-Only Online Full Index: Search the complete index of entries from Church Deaths 1890 - 1899 database at this website. The full index entry (see “typical index entry” above) will be given in the search results for HCGS members who have logged into this website. If you are not a member you can Join HCGS (for as little as $15/year) and have access to this database.
Public Online Abbreviated Index: Available in a searchable PDF file (1.6 MB). Each entry contains Last Name, Given Name, Year of death, Place of birth (POB) indicator. Until this index is published in printed book form, the full index entry is only available at this time to HCGS members.
To obtain a copy of the original record:
- The source microfilms for these church burials are available at the PLCH, CHLA, and LDS except for those of Roman Catholic church burials.
1865 - 1908 Civil death records
- Cincinnati death records for the years 1878–1896 and 1900–1908 have also been indexed by the HCGS into nine books titled Index to Cincinnati, Ohio, Death Records which are available at the PLCH and can also be found at other libraries via WorldCat. Click on the specific book title, scroll down, enter your zip code and click on Find Libraries.
- See our Shop & Support page for information on purchasing the above index books.
- Hamilton County Probate Court recorded deaths from 1881 to 1908. The best source for these records is Ohio, Deaths and Burials, 1854-1997, a searchable FamilySearch database. The Probate Court volume and page number is provided but not the record image. The record image can be obtained at the Probate Court’s Death Records (1881-1908). Each record spans a single line across two pages, so scroll down to see the second page. This collection also has its own typed index rather than a search engine. General information is available in our Records Repositories section about Hamilton County Probate Court.
Post-1908 death certificates
- A searchable index of Ohio death certificates, with images of the certificates, is available in the Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953 database at FamilySearch. Please note you must be a registered FamilySearch user to see and save the certificate images. Registration is free.
- The Ohio Department of Health holds death certificates from December 20, 1908 to the present. Vital Records has instructions and forms for ordering a death certificate from the state office. Post-1908 certificates for deaths in Hamilton County can also be ordered from:
1887-1930 Hamilton County Morgue Records
The University of Cincinnati’s Archives and Rare Books Library (ARB) has digitized the 1887-1930 Hamilton County morgue records and placed them online. The entire series can be searched at once for a particular name. To get to the abstracts for a particular date range, choose the volume for that period and click See all records, then Morgue Records, Volume (number). The abstracts are in chronological order; click Control-F to search each set. The abstracts include name, race, gender, date found, age, history (usually cause of death), and image number. For more details, be sure to see the record image.
page modified: 09/14//2020 RTB