United States Cemeteries

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Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

Online Records[edit | edit source]

Cemetery Records[edit | edit source]

Cemetery Records reveal
Usually or Possibly
Death/Burial date Green check.png  
Birth date/Age Green check.png  
Birth place   Green check.png
Name of spouse   Green check.png
Names of children   Green check.png
Symbols (religious, military, other) Green check.png  

Cemetery records often include birth, marriage, and death information and clues to military service, religion, membership in an organization, and more.

Types of care for Human Burial: earth burial, cremation, sea burial, entombment, donation to science, and cryogenic.

Types of Cemetery Records[edit | edit source]

Several types of cemetery records are available. Cemeteries may have Sextons or caretakers, who may have kept records of the names and dates of those buried and maps of the burial plots. Some churches have kept burial records that may give birth, marriage and other family or health details. Tombstones or gravestones may also exist, or the information on them may have been transcribed.

Cemetery burial records, sometimes called permits for burial, often include birth, marriage, and death information. They sometimes provide clues about military service, religion, or membership in an organization, such as a lodge. These records are especially helpful for identifying children who died young or women who were not recorded in family or government documents. Check the sexton's records, or visit the cemetery in person to see if other relatives are in the same or adjoining plots.

To find tombstone or sexton records, you need to know where an individual was buried. The person may have been buried in a community, church, private, military, or family cemetery, usually near the place where he lived or died or where other family members were buried. You can find clues to burial places in funeral notices, obituaries, church records, funeral home records, death records and County deeds.

Types of Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Sources for Cemetery Records[edit | edit source]

  • The present sexton, funeral home, or minister who may have the burial registers and the records of the burial plots.
  • A local library, historical society, or local historian, who may have the records or can help you locate obscure family plots or relocated cemeteries. Cemetery associations sometimes publish inventories or transcripts for their areas.
  • Sextons' records and transcripts of tombstone information that have been published, often in local genealogical periodicals. (See the periodical indexes listed in United States Periodicals.)
  • Lists of soldiers' graves, described in U.S. Military Records.

Cemetery Transcribing[edit | edit source]

Copying tombstones and sexton's records is a tremendous help to people who cannot themselves visit the cemetery. It also preserves the information that may later disappear through erosion, floods, and the like.

Several online cemeteries show how you can use your smart phones or iPads to transcribe these records.

The following resources give ideas and tips for better cemetery transcribing:

  • Newman, John J. "Cemetery Transcribing: preparations and procedures." History News 26:5, May 1971. (AASLH, Technical Leaflet 9.) FamilySearch Library book 929.1 A1 #5. Downloadable copy ($)

Terms[edit | edit source]

Cenotaph: engraved on a tombstone indicates an empty grave, with the stone erected in memory or in honor of a person buried elsewhere. It often indicates a stone erected in honor of a person lost at sea."[1]

Abbreviations are often used on headstones. A list of abbreviations, including military abbreviations, is available on Rootsweb.

Locating Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

  • Maps
  • GPS
  • County highway maps
  • Early county maps and atlases
  • County and town histories
  • Land records: deeds
  • Government officials
  • Church officials
  • Mortuary & Funeral directors
  • Local historians
  • Residents
  • Information gained from obituaries, death certificates, mortuary funeral cards
  • The Family History Library has cemetery records listed in the Locality Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under [STATE], [COUNTY] - Cemeteries

Funeral directors in the area where your ancestors lived may have records similar to death and cemetery records. Most of their addresses are in the:

American Blue Book of Funeral Directors. New York, New York: National Funeral Directors Association, biennial. Funeral Home Records

Cemetery records may include a Permit for Burial form from the state or county. This record may contain as much information as the death certificate in some jurisdictions and some time periods.

The library has a few funeral home records listed in the Locality Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under the following:


Cemetery Addresses[edit | edit source]

You can find the addresses of many cemeteries in:

  • Cemeteries of the U.S.: A Guide to Contact Information for U.S. Cemeteries and Their Records. First Edition. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research, 1994. Lists over 22,000 operating and inactive cemeteries. Alphabetical by state, county, and cemetery name. Entries may list physical location or mailing address, phone and fax numbers, contact information for cemetery record keepers, years of operation, religious and other affiliations.
  • Kot, Elizabeth Gorrell. United States Cemetery Address Book, 1994-1995. Vallejo, California: Indices Publishing, 1994. (Family History Library book 973 V34k.) Lists over 25,000 cemetery addresses and locations. Alphabetical by state, town, and cemetery name.
  • Online US cemetery registry

Cemetery Resources by State
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See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Stalkin' Kin In Old West Texas, Vol XVI, No. 2.(San Angelo Genealogical and Historical Society, Inc. Aug 1988)