There have been three laws passed in the state of Ohio regarding the recording of vital records. The first law was passed in 1856. This statute required birth, death, and marriage registration. This law was generally disregarded by individuals. The second law was passed in 1867. It required that births and deaths be recorded at the county level. Although it was required by law, many births and deaths still were not recorded. In 1908, the third law was passed, mandating the recording of births and deaths at the state level. As a result, births and deaths occurring from 20 December 1908 forward are more complete. Birth and death certificates after 1908 are available through the Ohio Department of Vital Statistics or county Health Departments. Ohio death certificates from 1908-1953 are available through FamilySearch.
Ohio Births Prior to 1867
There are a few known counties that have surviving copies of birth records prior to 1867. Wayne County, OH has some births recorded for the year ending 1 March 1857. The Wayne County Genealogical Society has a publication of the vital records from 1856-1857. A copy of the book can be found in our department. Other known counties with early birth and death records include the following:
- Gallia County – birth and deaths from 1864
- Hamilton County – birth records from 1846
- Lucas County – birth records from 1865
- Mahoning County – birth and death records from 1 April 1856 to 30 March 1857 and from 1 April 1864 forward
- Richland County – birth and death records from 1865
Keep in mind that few hospitals existed in the early to mid 19th century. Babies were delivered at home by doctors, midwives, family, friends, or neighbors.
Wayne County, OH Records
Our department has two different books recording the births in Wayne County, OH. Wayne County, OH Births 1800-1870 was started by a member of the Wayne County Genealogical Society years ago. The births recorded in this book are not actual births. Rather, the book is a compilation of early births that may have occurred in Wayne County, OH. The compiler used more than 14 different resources. Some of the most commonly referred resources include, with their abbreviations:
- History of Wayne County, Ohio by Ben Douglass => DG
- Commemorative Biographical Record of Wayne County, Ohio, originally published by J.H. Beers & Co. => BE
- History of Wayne County, Ohio published by B.F. Bowen Co. => BO
- 1988 International Genealogical Index (IGI) => IG
- 1992 International Genealogical Index (IGI) => IG
- Abstracts of the 1850 US Census of Wayne County, Ohio => C50
- 1880 US Census of Wayne County, Ohio => C80
The front of the book gives a list of the various abbreviations used in the resource. Unfortunately, the compilation of early birth records has not been completed. The compiler completed the surnames beginning with the letter A thru letter R. He started but did not complete surnames beginning with S. He passed away prior to the completion of the book.
A second book in our collection is Wayne County, Ohio Birth Records 1867-1908. The book is divided in two parts. Volume 1 is organized by the father’s last name. In volume 1, the father’s name and mother’s maiden name are listed. Each child that was born to them and that was recorded is listed beneath the father and mother and indented a few spaces. Many of the children do not have names. At the time the birth was recorded, a name had not been given to the child, yet. Also, the compiler of the book lumped children together as being born in the same township. This is not necessary accurate. The researcher would need to refer to the original birth records on microfilm to verify the township in which the child was born. The volume and page number in which the birth was recorded can be found following each child listed.
Volume 2 of the book covers the delayed births. In the 1930s when Social Security came into effect, many individuals did not have actual birth records to prove their birth date. They would need to have someone write a letter verifying the applicant’s birth date. We do not have the original delayed birth records in our department.
Births Recorded in Newspapers
Many births may be found recorded in local newspapers. These are normally found in the social pages.
Often times researchers may discover birth and parental information in apprenticeships. Early Wayne County, Ohio apprenticeships may be found in the Wayne County, Ohio Land Deeds volume 5. In addition, in the first few issues of "Our Wayne County Heritage," the Genealogical Section of the Wayne County Historical Society abstracted many of the apprenticeships.
In December 1908, the state health department mandated the recording of birth records. There was a preprinted form that was used to standardize the recording of the births. Our department does not have birth records after 1908. The researcher would need to contact the county Health Department in which the individual was born or the State Health Department to obtain a copy of the birth record.
Wayne County Health Department
Vital Records Administration
c/o Vital Records Registrar
203 South Walnut Street
Wooster, OH 44691
Ohio Department of Health
225 Neilston Street
P.O. Box 15098
Columbus, OH 43215-0098
Beginning in 2003, Ohio no longer issues non-certified copies of birth records. It is necessary to have a certified copy. Contact the county or state health department to determine the most current price.
The dates 1867 and 1908 are specific for Ohio. Other states may have recorded births earlier or later. Do a Google search for the county and/or state health department of interest, or you can visit the Vital Records website.
Many times, birth announcements will be made in the local newspapers. Do not overlook this as another resource.