In the United States, generally speaking, each state has jurisdiction over the government records that are kept regarding their inhabitants' births, marriages, deaths, divorces, land transactions, probates, health, disease, education etc. They were not responsible for private record-keeping efforts such as those done by churches, cemeteries, community groups, companies, businesses etc. Certain cities also participated in early record-keeping efforts even prior to their state's commencement of such things. And then there are numerous other entities involved with keeping records; these include shipping lines, publication companies (city and county directories, and phone books), orphanages, hospitals and military organizations.
If you are researching your genealogy in Ohio, then this article is for you. We will look at societies, websites that will help you with your Ohio genealogy, and the history of Ohio.
Ohio is a unique state in that it has a large number of people who are actively engaged in the field of genealogy. The Ohio Genealogical Society (www.ogs.org) is the largest state genealogical society in the United States. While this is a subscription site, it is well worth the cost of membership if you are pursuing your genealogy in Ohio. Not only do your receive copies of their publications but you have access to their lending library and their archive of online newspapers (they have the world's largest archive of online newspapers), use of the OGS Library, access to the knowledge of staff and volunteers in the field, and discounts on conferences. The OGS is responsible for indexing federal and state censuses of the state. Members actively search for Ohio genealogy sources, transcribe tombstone inscriptions in cemeteries and compile lineages. There are a number of county genealogical societies as well. Every county has published the history of their county.
Because of the amount of migration into and out of Ohio over the course of two centuries, there is a good chance that you will find some Ohio connections in your genealogy. Indeed, a number of studies have been conducted using Ohio genealogy sources that have relatively little to do with genealogy. These studies have included topics such as wealth (probates, inventories and censuses), military (muster rolls, censuses and military histories), nutrition (land, commercial, health records) and migration (church, census and land records).
There are also the regular web sites that include records from all states, sites like www.ancestry.com, www.footnote.com, and www.worldvitalrecords.com, but there are also state-specific sites for Ohio. These include www.ohiogenealogy.org , www.accessgenealogy.com/ohio, OhGenWeb on www.rootsweb.ancestry.com, www.ohgen.net, www.ohgenweb.net, and www.cousinconnect.com. This last site is unusual in that it consists of a message board of queries regarding Ohio genealogy, including requests for information arising from adoptions.
Another aspect of Ohio history that is of importance is the connection with the Underground Railroad. In partnership with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (www.freedomcenter.org) in Cincinnati makes available free searches in censuses, the Social Security Death Index, passenger lists, military records, and state and county records as well as presents classes on how to use these records and obtain birth, marriage and death records. The Church of Jesus Christ has records of the Freedman's Bank available on CD and microfilm. The Freedman's Bank and its various branches was set up in 1867 to help freed slaves protect and administer their newfound monetary income, and records include information on the slave, his or her spouse and children, parents, former master, address and occupation.
If your genealogy search takes you to Ohio, then you are indeed fortunate! Not only did your ancestors live in interesting circumstances but there are a great deal of sources for information accumulated and presented by various societies and other interested companies to assist you.