Posted by Paul Rawlins on August 10, 2010 in Collections

This post is just a quick heads-up to let you know about a few million Midwestern records that have gone live on over the last week.

Ohio Online

Ohio is the big winner, with indexes to more than 10 million vital records.

Ohio Deaths, 1908–1932, 1938–1944, and 1958–2007, has been updated with an additional 550,000 names, but the bigger news is two new databases: Ohio Marriage Index, 1970, 1972–2007, and Ohio Divorce Index, 1962–1963, 1967–1971, 1973–2007. They’re on the modern side of our record collections, for sure, but they provide access to more than 10 million records between them. And while I have no ties to Ohio that I know of, I can’t help but think these records could hold some intriguing clues for those who do.

This is especially true of the divorce index. While some entries provide less information than others, the most extensive can include  not only names and dates but also times married, birth years, number of minor children, the grounds for divorce, whom the decree was granted to, and the length of the marriage.

Michigan Death Certificates

For a little icing on the cake for those of you with relatives next door, Michigan Death Records, 1897–1920, contains almost 1 million death certificates from the state of Michigan’s Division of Vital Statistics. The records are great sources of vital information, including names and birthplaces of the deceased’s parents.

Ellen Wilson

A Michigan native clued me in on one great story from the death records. In 1850, Ellen Wilson and her husband, both slaves, passed through Michigan on their way to freedom in Canada. They returned a few years later to live among the peace-loving Quakers in Farmington, where Ellen died in 1915 (though there appear to be a couple of confusing sixes penciled in). Her death certificate gives her father’s name—a great find for anyone researching slave ancestry.

So, all you lucky folks with Ohio and Michigan roots (or branches), enjoy.


After the success that some folks already had with them, you may have noticed that the Michigan Death Records are currently unavailable. We apologize for this inconvenience. Please know that we are working hard to get them back up on the site and hope to have the situation resolved soon. In the meantime, if you’re researching your Michigan ancestors, go to the Card Catalog and type Michigan in the Title box, and you will see more than 300 Michigan-related databases in our collections.  Or you might find these Michigan death or marriage (prior to 1850 and 1851–75) databases useful if you haven’t checked them before.

We’ll let you know as soon as we get the Michigan vital records back up.


  1. ejg25

    So helpful — those two states are exactly where my ancestors were. In a few minutes, I found my great-grandmother’s death record, which I’d been unable to find through all other sources.

    This is especially nice because Michigan vital record fees are among the highest.

  2. ejg25

    Wow… and a death record for one of my great-great-granduncles that provided my great-great-great-grandmother’s previously unknown maiden name. Thank you!

  3. Joanne Nordstrom Wetzel

    I am delighted to see that Michigan has finally put at least a portion of the Death Records online! I just found the death certificates for both of my Great-Grandparents who died in 1910 and 1911. Hope it won’t be another lengthy wait for more current death records (or any other vital records) to be posted with Ancestry. It has been very frustrating, to say the least.

    Joanne Nordstrom Wetzel

  4. Doreen Kleeman

    Thanks a million for these death records ….so very helpful, since most of my relatives were in these two states, I found my Mother`s brother who died of pnuemonia at age 12 in Wexford Co. MI.
    I`m sure I will find more.

  5. Barb Woodworth

    Thank you for opening these new options to us. I’m sure I will find many worthwhile clues finally.

  6. MikeF

    So as Don in #6 says, the Michigan records were already online *free*, and most of the Ohio records are only good for figuring out your mother or sister’s birth date, while the earlier Ohio death records came straight off of Family Search Indexing where they already were available *free*.

    So what state level vital records has Ancestry actually spent money on to digitize this year? You know, some of the 1/4 of the marketing budget it has to spend on new data acquisition.

  7. Israel P

    My Michigan couple doesn’t show up yet.

    Does anyone know what percentage of Michigan deaths are included in the “almost 1 million death certificates from the state of Michigan’s Division of Vital Statistics?”

  8. Sharon

    I have been having more trouble with Recent Member Connect Activity. I noticed last night in my recent member connect activity that a person had taken photos off my private tree which I believed couldn’t happen if your tree is private.
    Then I get on this morning and the the person who took the photos is no longer listed in my recent member activity. This person was taken out of there after I emailed in a question to Ancestry about what was going on with photos being taken.
    I thought when a tree was private it was private.
    Has anyone had this happen to them?

  9. Connie

    Joanne, These records have been online for awhile now at Seeking Michigan. Ancestry is yet again duplicating the work that others have done for no apparent reason.

  10. Jean Richards

    When can we expect Michigan death records before 1897? Also, how about some more Michigan marriage & divorce records? Thanks.

  11. Karra Porter

    I have to share the disappointment with Ancestry’s new U.S. content. These same Michigan death records have long been available for free on the internet, and most of the newly added Ohio records are quite recent.

  12. iva

    Thanks for the information. I have been using this web site for at least a year. It is very good and has helped me to see your information about it.

  13. Alex

    Hi, malcontents! The more there is on ancestry, the better I like it, even if the same information is available at some other website. Do you think ancestry should take down everything that can be found for free somewhere else?

  14. BobNY

    re: #17

    No, Alex they should not take down what can be found elsewhere for free. BUT, they should be expending their finite acquisition, indexing and storage resources on records that are not available elsewhere.

  15. don

    I agree, the more that’s on Ancestry, the better. Many people may not know of some of the individual state’s websites, so having Ancestry as a central place for your search has its advantages. I’m an ancestry subscriber and love the service, but I wish they would focus on getting new information. Up next on Ancestry, the new “Google database”. If you have a world deluxe subscription you can even search Google for information around the world. 😉

  16. Scott

    I agree with Don and Alex. All of my family traces back through Michigan and I’ve been researching for almost 10 years. I’d seen the death indexes, etc. on familysearch, and had looked at Seeking Michigan in the distant past, but until I saw this database on, I didn’t realize the actual death record images (not just the index sheets) were on-line anywhere. I immediately found a ton of family members in the records, so having these records (even if on-line elsewhere) centralized on a place like is of great benefit.

  17. Scott

    P.S. Please keep the Michigan records coming! Records from Ohio aren’t that important. Everyone from Michigan knows that. 🙂

  18. ejg25

    I’m obviously with those who find great value in these records. I had searched thoroughly outside and wasn’t aware that the actual Michigan death record images were viewable online.

    Also, I find that even if a record is available elsewhere, when it’s digitized to Ancestry there is a significant advantage gained in the name index quality and search-ability. I can’t wait for them to digitize the Italian civil registration records for my ancestral towns that I’ve been painstakingly scouring on poor-quality decades-old microfilm.

  19. Roger Engelken

    Thank you so very much to the gentleman who mentioned I was able to find the death certificate of William Landmann, my great great grandfather. The family in the more than twenty years I’ve been looking never had any information on his passing. Thank you so very much.


  20. Jeff

    What’s the problem and outlook for getting the Michigan death certificates back online? I found records for a couple of my people and didn’t get a chance to download them.

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