Ohio Probate Records

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This entry was originally written by Carol L. Maki and Michael John Neill for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the Ohio Family History Research series.
History of Ohio
Ohio Vital Records
Census Records for Ohio
Background Sources for Ohio
Ohio Maps
Ohio Land Records
Ohio Probate Records
Ohio Court Records
Ohio Tax Records
Ohio Cemetery Records
Ohio Church Records
Ohio Military Records
Ohio Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Ohio Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Ethnic Groups of Ohio
Ohio County Resources
Map of Ohio


The court of common pleas was responsible for probate and estate records beginning in 1797. Since 1851, probate functions have been under the jurisdiction of the probate court. Indexes are available in each probate office. Some probate records are on microfilm at the Ohio Historical Society and the FHL. The county probate court holds guardianship, name changes, insanity proceedings, naturalization, marriage records from the beginning of the county, and birth and death records (1867–1908).

Adoptions in Ohio are processed through the probate court. Access to adoption records is restricted. For those prior to 1939, the probate court must be petitioned. From 1 January 1939 to 1 January 1964, adopted persons or their lineal descendants can obtain information from the supervisor of special records at the State Department of Health in Columbus (see Ohio Vital Records).

Indexes are available in each probate office, while some records are accessible on microfilm at the Ohio Historical Society and the FHL. An excellent source is Carol Willsey Bell, Ohio Wills and Estates to 1850: An Index (Columbus, Ohio: the author, 1981), which includes an excellent introduction, cites entries for records no longer in existence, and references documents in county courthouses. A county records manager, or similar office, has been created in some Ohio counties. This office may hold records generated by chancery courts, petition to partition land to settle an estate, probate journals, and probate case files.

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