My Trip to the Health Department

Last week I finally did something I’d wanted to do for a few months: I made a genealogical appointment at my county health department.

Have you heard of a genealogical appointment?  I hadn’t either until I was trying to find out if there was a way I could get death certificates cheaper than purchasing a certified copy for $22.  That’s fine and dandy if I needed one for legal reasons, but for genealogy, with as many as I needed for my specific county, it was going to cost me well over $400 for these death certificates and that’s money I just don’t have.

That’s where a genealogy appointment saves you money (at least where I live in Ohio).

Mine was for 9:30am last Thursday morning.  I was so excited and extremely prepared (but still forgot a few people).  I arrived and they set me up at a computer where I put in the names of my deceased ancestors and from 1964 and on (this took 5 people automatically off my list).  I wrote down their name, their date of death, and their file code/certificate number and the ladies who work there then print them out on plain white paper where they are stamped with the words “For Informational Use Only” on them and though I couldn’t keep them, I was allowed to take photos of each death certificate.  (I also did some birth certificates for my mom, her siblings, and my maternal grandparents).

Two of the five death certificates I had on my list I was able to find by searching death certificate by death certificate on FamilySearch. The one for my great-great-grandmother, Mazie Randol, I was thrilled to find as she never came up in any of the searches I’ve done anywhere.  The other, her mother, Orienta Gustine Warner, was found a little easier as I had found her information on the Ohio Death Index.

My last three I have mailed away to purchase through the Ohio History Connections, the state historical society, but my cost is now just $22.58 for all of them ($7 each plus tax). Still a better budgeting tactic when you have so many to find.

Now the blank spaces for some of my people are filled-in on my software.  It’s amazing what having all the information for a person does for peace of mind.  The individuals seem a little more complete now.  Below is an example:


See how Mazie looks more complete than her first husband, Arthur? (Don’t worry, I’m gathering up names to send in with Arthur’s to get his death certificate from Pennsylvania).

Just wanted to share my money saving tip on the chance you were unaware that you can contact your local health department for this genealogical appointment.  In the state of Ohio where I live, the county health department’s can only print out death certificates for those who died in Summit County (the county where I live).  Both my grandfathers died in other counties so I’ll either have to make a trip there or contact them to see if they could scan it and send it to me or if those may be the ones I pay full price to have.  Time will tell.

It was also nice for health reasons to see what caused their death just to give me a clue as to what I may need to keep an eye on.

I am not sure if every state does death certificates this way, but it was very helpful with putting all the pieces of the puzzle together.



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