Other Types of Death Records: Digging Up Cemetery Records

By Sherry Stevens

After you’ve checked the Social Security Death Index, if you’d like even more death-related information, try cemetery records. Cemetery records often reveal the birthdate, death date, location, and of course, the cemetery. Often you will even find the names of those buried next to your ancestor, or tombstone inscriptions. Sources are popping up almost daily on the Internet to help you find burial and cemetery records. Here are some of my favorites:

Cemetery listings:
Find A Grave– This is probably the largest database of grave transcriptions today. You can browse it by name, birth date, death date, or cemetery.
US GenWeb– This is a large database that must be searched by location and cemetery. The names in each cemetery are listed alphabetically, and include their tombstone inscriptions.
Interment.net– This is a smaller database but well worth a look. Many of the more obscure graveyards are included, including those no longer in existence.
Names In Stone On this newer database, you can see a map showing the location of the gravesite in the cemetery, and the names on the plots nearby. You can even get GPS coordinates and driving directions. How’s that for thorough?
Billion Graves This brand new site is sure to become a hit. Using new technology, an iPhone or Android app first captures images of headstones, and a desktop piece transcribes the information on the headstones into a searchable database. The Smartphone app stores an accurate location and a photo of each grave. The database is small right now, but likely to grow quickly.
Cemetery Surveys– This site focuses mainly on the cemeteries in the southern states.
Nationwide Gravesite Locator– This site lists the burial locations of U.S. veterans and their family members.
American Battle Monuments Commission– The burial locations of U.S. veterans who died overseas are listed here, plus Tablets of the Missing.

The Internet
Many people post their family’s genealogy on their own websites. To find these gold mines of information, just enter your ancestor’s name and birthdate and/or place. Don’t forget to enter a variety of spellings if there was any chance your ancestor used a nickname or alternate name spelling. If their name was common, try entering the name of their spouse(s) or a child instead. If you strike gold, always contact the website owner to verify the information with actual documents or other sources.

Compiled Databases
Try entering your ancestor’s name and information into FamilySearch, the database of the Family History Library. The Family History Library is the largest genealogical library in the world, and is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, otherwise known as the L.D.S. or the Mormon Church.

Ancestry.com has a vast collection of cemetery records from many locations. If you don’t have a subscription, you can access many of them free at your local library or FamilySearch Center. If you have a subscription, also remember to check their Public Family Trees under the Search tab.

Microfilmed Records
If you know the place of death but need the date, try searching the Family History Library Catalog. Just enter the Place Name to see what cemetery records they have for the area. If the town is small and there is no cemetery listing, try entering the closest larger town. If you find a microfilm you would like to order, for a small fee you can have it sent to the FamilySearch Center of your choice, where microfilm readers are available to view it, and helpful volunteers can assist you.

Still having no luck finding your ancestor’s grave? Here are some tips that may solve the problem:

Check all possible cemeteries
City cemeteries were the most common place to be buried, but don’t overlook private, military, or family cemeteries, or those owned by various religious denominations. To find them, go to Google Maps and enter the location. Click on Search Nearby, and type in “cemeteries” to find their contact information.

Another way to find cemeteries is the Internet. Just enter the name of the place, followed by “cemeteries”. You may be surprised to find that obscure cemetery where your ancestor was buried.

Check cremation or mausoleum records
Perhaps your ancestor was not buried in a cemetery at all. Check the Internet for mausoleums in the area, or in the case of cremations, search for other types of death records such as mortuary records, probates, death certificates, coroner’s records, obituaries, medical examiner’s records, and state death indexes. More articles will be written in the future on these types of records and where they may be found.

Have fun in your searching, and good luck!

Sherry StevensSherry Stevens is a professional researcher, writer, lecturer, and the owner of GenPro’s, a genealogical research firm. A descendant of Danish immigrants, she specializes in the records of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, as well as the United States. For more information on research services in these or other locations, please contact Sherry at:http://mygenpro.com/.

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