The probate court for Hamilton County, Ohio—location of our hometown of Cincinnati—launched an Archived Record Search for records from 1791 to 1994.
It’s not a database search where you type in a name. Instead, you open image files (PDFs or TIFs) of index books and/or record books for records including:
- Estates, 1791 to 1984
- Wills, 1791 to 1973
- Trusts, 1791 to 1984
- Guardianships, 1791 to 1984
- Marriages, 1808 to 1983
- Minister’s Licenses, 1963 to 1975 (index books only)
- Birth Records, 1863 to 1908
- Birth Registrations and Corrections, 1941 to 1994
- Death Records, 1881 to 1908
- Naturalizations, 1856 to 1906 (index books only; you can request photocopies from surviving record books from the court, or rent Family History Library microfilm through a Family History Center)
- Probate Court Journal Entries, 1791 to 1837 (no index; you must browse by volume and page number)
- Physician Certificates, 1919 to 1987 (no index; you must browse by volume and page number)
I spent most of the Bengals’ game last night opening and looking through the digitized books. I found a few people who may be relatives—giving me something to add to my 2010 to-do list.
Start by going to the Archive Record Search page and clicking the link for the type of record you’re interested in. On the next page, read the information: it’ll tell you whether the website has the index and/or the record volumes, whether the court has additional index or record volumes that aren’t online, years of coverage, and how complete the records are.
If an index book is online, click the name of the record at the top of the page. Click on the alphabetical range for the surname you want, which opens the file (it may take awhile). You might have to check several index books if you’re not sure of the year you need.
You also might have to scroll through the entire index: In some cases, surnames aren’t alphabetized beyond the first letter, or all S surnames with E first names (for example) might be grouped.
Once you find a suspected relative in the index book, note the volume and page number. Then, if the record book is online, go back to the main page for that record and search for a volume and page number to see the record. Otherwise—assuming the record book still exists—you can request photocopies from the court or see if it’s on FHL microfilm.
If there’s no index book, check the information on the site to see which volumes cover which years. Then type in your best guess of a volume and page number, and start browsing.