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Lesson 4: Dying to be Found, Part 2: Cemeteries

We have covered three death records in previous lessons, and each has its limitations:

  • Vital records are relatively recent, so they do not exist for early immigrants.
  • Church burials may be hard to locate, since the church may have changed affiliation, or the records may have been removed.
  • Obituaries are also recent, and did not include all immigrants, even after they became popular in newspapers.

Our fourth death record, cemetery inscriptions, is often the most permanent, inclusive, and accessible record. Regardless of when or where immigrants died, they were almost always buried. Cremation has only become popular in recent years and was virtually never considered by our immigrant ancestors for cultural and religious reasons.

However, cemetery records also have their own limitations as sources for immigration information:

  • Most do not include the town of birth.
  • Locating the burial site, as well as the records, can be difficult.

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