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Digital Projects - Cincinnati Birth & Death Records – Collection History & Scope


Cincinnati Birth and Death Records, 1865-1912 — Collection History & Scope

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Frequently Asked Questions:

Question: What is the scope of this collection and its history?

Answer: With a few exceptions, the official death records for the City of Cincinnati begin in 1865 and those for birth in 1874. As a result of a government records program of the Ohio Network of American History Research Centers, in 2003 over 500,000 card files from the Cincinnati Health Department were transferred to the UC Libraries' Archives and Rare Books Library. The cards contain the official records of births and deaths for Cincinnati citizens from the beginning dates as noted through 1908, with additional records through 1912. These cards are sometimes typed and many times handwritten, and were created by the Cincinnati Health Department several decades ago to preserve the data originally entered in ledger books. The ledger books are also preserved in the UC Libraries, but are of such fragility that any turning of the pages results in flaking and tears. The informational cards are considered the official and legal records of births and deaths for this time period.

While the bulk of these records begin in 1865, a small number of records show earlier dates. It is believed that these early records reflect the "restoration" of vital documents by citizens after the 1884 Hamilton County Courthouse fire, and were eventually sent to the City of Cincinnati Health Department for recording.

For birth and death records created after 1912, consult the State of Ohio Vital Records Office or the Cincinnati Health Department.  For birth or death records created between 1909 and 1912, even if found in this collection, you may be able to request a more complete record from these offices.  Certificate numbers (typically found in the top right corner) may be present in records in this collection from 1909-1912, and can be used to request the additional record.  (Records in this collection before 1909 typically do not have certificate numbers.)

Support for the digitization of these records was provided by a Library Services and Technology Act grant awarded by the State Library of Ohio.

For general information about genealogical research resources and policies of the UC Archives and Rare Books Library, see


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