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Special Collections and Archives maintains books, maps, census records, and other research materials for the 11 counties surrounding Wright State University, which include Auglaize, Champaign, Clark, Darke, Greene, Logan, Mercer, Miami, Montgomery, Preble, and Shelby. Manuscript collections idocument the cultural, political, social, and economic growth of the Miami Valley region of Ohio and include the records of churches, labor unions, businesses, social and welfare agencies, women's organizations, papers of private individuals and public officials, photographs, and pamphlets. We also have a selection of published and unpublished family histories.
To submit a research request, please complete a research request.
Local Government Records
As a member of the Ohio Network of American History Research Centers, Wright State is the official repository and archives for local government records in an 11-county area in central southwestern Ohio. The volume and type of local government records held vary by county. Records include county auditor, board of education, children's home, clerk of courts, county home or infirmary, probate court, sheriff, township, and town/city records.
Birth and Death Records
Ohio counties began recording births and deaths in 1867 after the passage of a state law. County probate courts kept birth and death records between 1867 and December 19, 1908. There is no statewide index to birth and death records from 1867 through December 19, 1908.
Special Collections and Archives has the birth and death records for the following Ohio counties:
- Auglaize County (microfilm)
- Clark County (microfilm)
- Darke County (microfilm)
- Mercer County (publication of Mercer County Chapter of Ohio Genealogical Society)
- Montgomery County (microfilm)
- Preble County (publication)
- Shelby County (publication of Shelby County Chapter of Ohio Genealogical Society)
For the remaining counties in the Special Collections and Archives service area, please contact the county’s probate court.
Ohio began issuing certificates for births and deaths on December 20, 1908.
The Ohio Department of Health holds Ohio birth certificates from December 20, 1908, to the present, and death certificates from 1964 to the present.
The Ohio History Connection holds death certificates for the entire state of Ohio from December 20, 1908, through December 31, 1963. The Ohio History Connection has an Ohio Death Certificate Index for 1913–1944 and 1954–1963 that provides the death certificate number and instructions for requesting a copy.
An index to Ohio death certificates for 1908–1953 is available through FamilySearch.
Special Collections and Archives has Federal Census records for 1820–1880 and 1900–1930 for the 11 counties in the department's service area: Auglaize, Champaign, Clark, Darke, Greene, Logan, Mercer, Miami, Montgomery, Preble, and Shelby.
Indexes to Federal Census Records for the state of Ohio 1820–1880 and 1900–1920 are also available to use in the Reading Room. The Federal Census Records for 1810 and 1890 were destroyed by fire.
Nationwide census data is accessible through FamilySearch.
Children's Home Records
After the Civil War, Ohio counties began establishing homes for children who were orphaned or from indigent families who could no longer support them. If one or both parents were ill or passed away, children might end up temporarily in one of these children's home until arrangements could be made for them to return to their family or to be placed to work in someone else's home. The various records of the children's homes can provide some limited information about the children who were placed in the homes as well as the homes themselves.
Several of the 11 counties in our collection region have children's home records, including Champaign, Clark, Darke, Logan, Miami, Montgomery, Preble, and Shelby. A listing of the records available for each of those counties is available in the local government records and in the library catalog.
The department does not hold any adoption records. The Ohio Department of Health, Office of Vital Statistics, houses birth and adoption records of persons born in Ohio and adopted anywhere in the United States. Adoption records cannot be ordered online. Contact the Ohio Department of Health for information concerning required documents and fees.
Special Collections and Archives holds original and microfilm copies of manumission registers for Greene, Logan, Miami, and Montgomery (partial) counties. From 1804 to 1857, freed blacks in Ohio had to register their freedom with the clerk of court in the county where they desired residency or employment. The emancipation index contains over 800 names.
Before September 7, 1949
Ohio county probate courts have kept marriage records from the date of the county's formation. There is no statewide index to marriage records before September 7, 1949.
Special Collections and Archives has the following marriage records:
- Auglaize County: 1848–1921
- Marriage Consent Records: 1906–1926
- Champaign County: 1805–1864
- Clark County: 1818–1946
- Darke County: 1817–1911
- Greene County: 1803–1870
- Mercer County: 1824–1984
- Marriage Consent Records: 1829–1928
- Montgomery County: 1803–1915
Contact the county probate court for marriage records not available in Special Collection and Archives.
After September 7, 1949
To obtain a copy of a marriage record after September 7, 1949, contact the probate court of the county where the marriage occurred.
The Ohio Department of Health maintains a statewide index to marriage records for all Ohio counties from September 7, 1949, to the present.
An index to Ohio marriage certificates for 1789–2013 is available through FamilySearch
Naturalization records relate to citizenship. The naturalization records held by Special Collections and Archives include the Declarations of Intention (First Papers) and Petitions for Naturalization (Second Papers). Naturalization records in Ohio are found in the county clerk of court or probate court where the request was filed. Special Collections and Archives holds naturalization records for the 11 counties covered in our local government records. The records begin when the county was formed and end in 1906. After September 1906, naturalization records became federal records.
Local History Collections
Local records are a primary source of information for genealogists and those conducting family research. In 1970, the Ohio Historical Society organized the Ohio Network of American History Research Centers to provide for the preservation of historically valuable local records. The network is composed of the Ohio Historical Society, five state universities, and Ohio's two largest historical societies. Wright State is one of the network's centers.
Special Collections and Archives has several manuscript collections containing information about local cemeteries:
Many county genealogical and local history organizations have inventoried local cemeteries, which are listed in our catalog and available for use in our Reading Room. The Find-A-Grave and Tombstone Transcription Project are resources that may be helpful as well.
Special Collections and Archives has holds several manuscript collections containing church records for the the Dayton area:
Beyond manuscript materials, many additional church records are available in microfilm format.
Family and Personal Papers
Personal papers and family collections often contain family histories, family trees, letters, diaries, scrapbooks, and photographs that can be helpful for genealogy. Browse or search our topic guide on collections of family and personal papers available for research in Special Collections and Archives. Each collection listed in the topic guide links to its collection finding aid. Finding aids offer a summary or description of the collection and how it is organized, and provides a detailed inventory of its contents. A collection's finding aid helps researchers determine if a collection contains materials of interest to them and, if so, where that material is located in the collection.
Funeral Home Records
Special Collections and Archives has several manuscript collections from local funeral homes, including:
Many county genealogical and local history organizations have written about local funeral homes, which are listed in our catalog and available for use in our Reading Room.
Ohio Historical Newspapers
Newspapers are a useful and convenient source of primary source material. The Dunbar Library has a large number of newspaper holdings on microfilm located in Current Periodicals on the second floor, including the Dayton Daily News. View a PDF list of available Ohio Historical Newspapers arranged alphabetically by region (PDF) or by title (PDF).
Information and digital images from select Ohio historical newspapers as well as many newspapers around the U.S. between 1836 and 1922 are available through the Chronicling America project.
The Family Histories Collection contains a listing of unpublished family histories donated to Special Collections and Archives donated by many different authors and genealogists. These unpublished histories are available in the Reading Room. Published family histories can be found in the library catalog by family name.