Stillborn Death Records

All genealogists use vital records as information sources. One intriguing area of vital records is stillbirth records. Often these sad events are not openly discussed among family members and thus the information is not readily available to searchers. The situation is not made any easier by the creators of the records, as is the case with Ohio stillbirth certificates. Although the Ohio Department of Health began creating state death certificates on December 20, 1908, the way they handled stillbirth deaths varied from year to year.

Beginning in 1909, in the case of stillborn deaths or infants born dead, the presiding doctor or midwife was to issue a death certificate for the infant. These certificates can be found among the main run of Ohio Death Certificates. The certificate may contain a complete name, if the parents named the child, or the name may appear as “stillborn.” These certificates are indexed in the main run of Death Certificates. The Certificates are located in the main run of the Death Certificates.

In 1918, the Ohio Department of Health changed the way they were recording death certificates for stillborn infants. ODH created a series of records separate from the main run of death certificates, “Stillborn Death Certificates”. These records are indexed by parent surname in the Ohio Death Certificate Index but sometimes show the first name of the infant as Stillborn. These certificates are housed in a separate series of volumes and thus the volume and certificate numbers appear to be much lower that the other names in the Index. There is a gap, from 1920 to 1921, in this series of Stillborn Death Certificates. In 1920 and 1921, the Stillborn Death Certificates are filed with and indexed with the main run of Ohio Death Certificates. Researchers can locate certificates by using the main index to locate the name, year of death and volume and certificate number.

In 1942, the law changed again, and ODH began creating “Fetal Death” certificates. These are not indexed in the Ohio Death certificate index at all. OHS does not currently have an index to these records. Researchers can locate specific certificates if they know the year and month of death. The certificates are arranged by month and then alphabetically by county name. Thus for 1942, the certificates are ordered: January, Adams through Wyandot; February, Adams through Wyandot; etc.

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