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Historical Legal Documents Legal Research Guide

This guide provides resources for finding information about historical legal matters in Cincinnati and the state of Ohio.


Disclaimer: Hamilton County Law Library staff, as a service to its patrons, provides reference services and information, including these research guides. To protect the public interest, Ohio law requires that legal advice and services be rendered only by qualified attorneys who are subject to the guidelines of the courts. Library staff members do not interpret the law, provide legal advice, or explain court procedures. The information provided is not a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney.  None of our services shall be construed as giving legal advice.

Hamilton County Courts

Due to the fire of the Courthouse in 1884 we do not have case materials until after April 1, 1884. The Clerk's office first case dockets were lost in the fire and they start at Book 14. 

The Clerk's website only searches back to the 1980's.  For older cases, Go to Clerk's paper room.  They will need a case number which sometimes can be found it our Court Indexes (start @ 1880) or in the Cincinnati Enquirer at the Public Library. For more information contact the "Document Center" which is located in the Common Pleas Division, Room 315  at 513-946-5692


Probate Court Record: This is online access to handwritten and typed records that were previously kept in bound volumes. Archive Search includes records of estates, wills, trusts, guardianships, marriages, minister's license, birth records, birth registrations and corrections, death records, naturalizations, Probate Court journal entries, and physician certificates, with all categories having widely varied time periods. The earliest records date from 1791.

Cincinnati Court Index - Hamilton County Legal Newspaper

Cincinnati Court Index ; Hamilton County Legal Newspaper

Ohio Court of Appeals-Unreported Cases


Unreported cases are now reported as of 2002.  They can be found on the Supreme Court's website.

Case before 2002 are available. We have Hamilton County unreported cases in paper format (10/1/1980 - 6/25/2004)  located in the file cabinets in the copy room.

You may request the cases directly from the Court of Appeals but will need a case number which can be retrieved from the Clerk of Courts website. Located on Microfiche from 1981-1992.  Newer years can be obtained via Westlaw.  Index volumes are available to look up Civil or Criminal cases by case name, subject or district. Once you find the entry, look for the fiche reference to retrieve the case. It will look like the following.  92-1-11d  (year-fiche number-district)



Ohio Statutes and Administrative Materials

For Ohio Statutes, see the the Legislation and Legislative history tabs on our Ohio Primary Law Research Guide.

For Ohio Administrative Materials, see the Administrative Materials tab on the Ohio Primary Law Research Guide. 

US Supreme Court Records and Briefs

Hamilton County Law Library (1960-2001 on Microfiche)

The United States Department of Justice: (1985-Present) 

Findlaw (1999-2007) 

Print Depositories 

Indiana University - Law Library - 812-855-9666
211 South Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, Indiana 47405
University of Louisville - Law Library - 502-852-0729
Wyatt Hall, Room 121
2301 S. 3rd Street
Louisville, Kentucky 40292

Birth and Death Records

For Birth Certificates, contact Hamilton County Public Health.  According to their website, birth certificates were not required in Ohio until December 1908. If you are looking for a birth record prior to this, contact them at 513-946-7800 or 
Hamilton County Public Health also handles death records.  Again, if the info you need is prior to 1908, contact them at 513-946-7800 or 

Marriage and Divorce Records

The Hamilton County Genealogical Society had an extensive guide to finding historical marriage and divorce records.

Hamilton County Marriage Records-


Hamilton County Genealogical Society