Cemetery tombstones, or sexton's records, may give birth and death dates, age at death, name of spouse, names of children, and maiden names. Less often, they contain birth places. Tombstones may have symbols or insignias indicating military service and social or religious affiliations. There are also abbreviations that gives clues when deciphered. Also family members may be buried in the same plot or nearby. The Association of Gravestone Studies (AGS) has recommendations on the treatment and care of tombstones when needing to make inscriptions more visible. There are several major collections of Iowa cemetery records created by various organizations that transcribed tombstones and sexton’s records. Not all cemetery records are computerized and the records may be recorded on "lot" cards.
For further reading on researching cemeteries see Genealogical Research in Cemeteries.
Search each collection because no collection includes all the cemeteries, although there maybe some duplication. Some of the collections include the following:
- Iowa Cemetery and Grave Registration Project of the W.P.A. and D.A.R. This is the most comprehensive cemetery collection for Iowa. The records are listed by county and then alphabetically by the names of persons buried in that county. The Iowa WPA Graves Registration has a searchable site.
- Iowa Cemeteries These records were filmed at Des Moines, Iowa. The cemeteries are listed by county, starting with Adair County. The records give location, history, and a physical description of most cemeteries. Headstones are listed by rows.
- Iowa Genealogical Data The DAR Library in Washington, D.C., contains Iowa volumes 1–24, 41–62. (For volumes 33–34, 36–39, see the collection below.) Most volumes are indexed. The State Historical Society of Iowa (see Iowa Archives and Libraries) has a collection of 85 DAR volumes. There is also a short guide indicating which volumes contain information about specific counties. (See the Iowa Bible Records for the library call number of the guide.)
- Iowa Grave Records and Genealogical Data, 1800–1900  Information is by county. This set contains DAR volumes 1–4, 7, 9–10, 12–15, 33–34, 36–39, 41, 44–46, 49, 53, 56, and 80. Use this collection with the one above because many of the volumes missing here are in the above collection.
- For Iowa soldiers who died in other states see Iowa veterans buried out of state, Graves Registration Service, a division of the Adjutant General's Department. 
Thousands of cemetery locations can be found at Iowa: Cemetery Locations.
A project to locate all cemeteries in Iowa is published in Iowa Cemetery Locations.  Each volume of this series covers one region and includes county maps showing cemetery locations. Many of the cemetery records listed have been published by the Iowa Genealogical Society and are available at the Family History Library Catalog. Many cemetery records are published in periodicals. See the Iowa Periodicals for indexes to major periodicals.
Use the Keyword Search feature on catalog drop down menu of the Family History Library Catalog to find more records under:
- IOWA - CEMETERIES
- IOWA, [COUNTY] - CEMETERIES
- IOWA, [COUNTY], [TOWN] - CEMETERIES
Web Sites for Transcribed Cemeteries
- Cemetery Junction
- Iowa Gravestones Photo Project
- Iowa WPA Graves Registration
- Saving Graves
- The Tombstone Project
Sources and Footnotes
- Iowa State Department of History and Archives. Iowa Cemetery and Grave Registration Project of the W.P.A. and D.A.R. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1978. FHL film 1022211 items 1-9 (first of 20)
- Iowa State Department History and Archives. Iowa Cemeteries. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1978. FHL film 1023603 items 6–13 (first of 7)
- Daughters of the American Revolution (Iowa). Iowa Genealogical Data. vols. 1–24, 41–62. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1971. FHL film 851208 item 8 (first of 10)
- Daughters of the American Revolution (Iowa). Iowa Grave Records and Genealogical Data, 1800–1900. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1978. FHL film 1023114 item 11 (First of 4)
- Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1978. FHL film 1023908 (first of 11)
- Iowa Cemetery Locations: Regions 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 1, 2, and 5. 8 vols. Des Moines, Iowa: Iowa Genealogical Society, 1990. (Family History Library book 977.7 V3i)