How to Find Archived Obituaries in Ohio: Step by Step


Obituaries detail more than just factual summaries about people who have passed away. They include an important part of the memorial process and honor the deceased in a specific way. 

Has a loved one passed away in Ohio? Are you completing some genealogical research in the Buckeye State?

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You can consider a variety of ways to learn how to find an obituary, especially archived obituaries. We’ll discuss how to search the Ohio obituary archive.

How to Find Archived Obituaries in Ohio for Free

Though regarded as a bit “behind the times” in terms of the openness of the digitization of records, you can find various library systems and archives in Ohio. Therefore, you can search for obituaries from as far back as the late 1800s. 

Most of these archive systems allow you to look for free online obituaries. However, keep in mind that some of these resources may not allow you to have full access to the records online.

Know that archives generally refer to older records, especially in Ohio. You can find fairly current archived content but you may not have to get as creative to find what you’re looking for in these cases. In Ohio, you can find records 20 years older or newer more easily and more open to the public. 

Not too enthused about diving into old newspapers or microfilms? Google searches can often find recently archived content on various platforms and social media sites. These sites offer a great option for people to write or share obituaries effectively with their loved ones.  

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The Ohio government has dedicated a significant amount of effort to the Ohio Obituary Index. This index is not entirely complete or perfect. However, three million records have been indexed from just one of the more than 60 locations contributing to the project.

How can this massive (but imperfect) index help you? You can skip past all of the trips to different county libraries. This way, you can pinpoint which location has the full-text version of what you’re looking for so you can get in contact with the right professionals. 

The Ohio Obituary Index not only cross-references obituaries, it also searches country death records and certificates. The information provided in the database uses criteria from a wide range of sources in general. 

Search through library resources (online or in person)

Depending on the period of time in which the person passed away (if you know), you can use a variety of free library resources in Ohio. Some of these resources may provide access online. You might also have to arrange an in-person visit. 

In-person visits can also connect you with library professionals who may have an easier time using their systems. That said, you should also call your library of choice to see if you can get assistance over the phone. 

Some different library systems offer obituaries and related archives in Ohio. In fact, they’re all considered a part of the Ohio Obituary Index:

  • Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library: This library system, closely related to the Ohio Obituary indexing efforts from the government of Ohio mentioned above, does not allow you to look up the text of an entire document through the index. The information is searchable through the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library website. 
  • Dayton Metro Library: This library has its own system and only includes papers that have been published in and around the area. Though not yet complete, the searchable database includes thousands of different records on obituaries and death records.
  • Cleveland Public Library: This library system offers three major area papers from the late 1800s to 1975. However, most of the system does not have the whole text of the newspapers available. Instead, it can point you in the direction of the full text.
  • Ohio Memory Project: Though not necessarily devoted to obituaries, the Ohio Memory project also offers some cool historical data, including photographs and military records.  

Ask around in your network

You can also ask around in your network. Reaching out to others to give you information could result in the best way to get information. Obituaries can certainly provide you with closure or factual information for genealogical research. You may also want to learn more about predeceased etiquette for obituaries.

» MORE: Everyone's life is worth celebrating. These tools keep their memory close.

Search social media 

You can find tons of information about people you may not even know (even obituaries) just by searching on social media. Though this may sound a bit odd or even creepy, you shouldn’t feel bad about searching for an obituary on social media as long as you have sincere intentions. 

If you stumble upon the right family member or friend to ask and you know around the time of year the person passed away, you can scroll back to these dates. Sending him or her a considerate message outlining your goals should prove rather helpful.

However, if you hit a roadblock with a private profile along the way, you should take care if you choose to message the person to ask about an obituary. If you’re courteous and honest, you shouldn’t have any issues. 

Other Methods to Find Archived Obituaries in Ohio

If you follow the steps above, you should have success when searching for obituary archives in Ohio. However, we’ll also provide a few additional methods to consider. In fact, these search methods should help you no matter what you’re looking for, whether you want to locate personal or professional information.

Get smarter about your searching

Making an error in your search or not using things like advanced searching may create more work. Misspelling a name or another detail can throw everything off. Even if you’re certain that you’re spelling the person’s name correctly or you believe he or she passed away on a certain date, try modifying your searches slightly. Use varied spellings of the person’s name. 

When searching in general, you can also customize your searches to filter out irrelevant results. You can also add quotes around the information you need your results to contain. For example, you can put quotes around the person’s name, like “Robert Jones.” If you believe this person passed away in Elyria, Ohio, then you can also put separate quotes around “Elyria.”

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Look for death certificates

In contrast with another type of record — death certificates — obituaries contain lots of information. Obituaries typically have far more details in terms of pinpointing a particular person than death certificates do. However, if you’ve hit a roadblock in your obituary search, a death certificate search may work well. 

Use a paid search engine

You may want to try all of the free methods of searching available to you before shelling out for a paid version. However, paid services like Family Search,, and GenealogyBank may work if you don’t have the time or effort tyo spare to search on your own. 

What to do if you can’t find an obituary (or a good one)

If you try all of the methods, steps, and tips in this post and still cannot find an obituary, perhaps you may need to write a new one. Even if you do stumble upon the obituary you’re looking for, you may still not like its style of writing or you may even believe it includes incorrect details. You can tweak this information for your own records even if you can’t change it in the archives.

Regardless of what happens with your obituary search, you may find yourself needing to write an obituary in the near future. Take a look at some tips for how to write an obituary. Though the concept may seem strange, you may want to write your own obituary. Learn some tips for how to write an obituary for yourself.

Obituaries Offer Many Details 

Without obituaries, you can lose details about your ancestors. Obituaries serve an important part of the memorial process, both immediately and over time. As you may understand from reading this post, keeping track of obituaries themselves may pose a different challenge. 

When searching for obituaries in any state, ensure that you include the correct search details. Cake can help with all sorts of end-of-life information, including a free end-of-life planning tool for you and your loved ones. 

If you're an Ohio resident and ready to start preparing your own end-of-life planning documents, Cake has Advance Care Planning forms you can download. To help ease your planning, we have all the documents you need in one place.

  1. Ohio Obituaries. Public Libraries.
  2. Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums. Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums.
  3. Dayton Metro Library. Dayton Metro Library.
  4. Cleveland Public Library. Cleveland Public Library.
  5. Ohio Memory Project. Ohio Memory Project.

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