Finding Cemeteries and Records
Cemeteries are, as a rule, shown on maps of the area.
You can visit MapQuest and see
cemeteries, or you can use the GNIS
(Global Names Information Service) to search for cemeteries in a certain
Funeral homes often work hand in glove with cemeteries,
and they are the entity to contact for burial records. Unfortunately,
like privately owned cemeteries, funeral homes often change hands and
records are either stored and unavailable for searching, or have just
disappeared over the years. But it's worth a try--if you know which
cemetery your ancestor is buried in, check with the cemetery records
for the name of the funeral home which was responsible for burying your
ancestor. If that information is not available, query nearby funeral
homes. There is a searchable Internet
directory of U.S. and Canadian funeral homes that can provide contact
Once You're at the Cemetery
When visiting a cemetery, your first stop should be
at the office (if the cemetery has one). Cemetery records may be available
which will tell you where your ancestor is buried, and may also include
names, dates, as well as spouse, parents, and children's information.
Information from the grave itself can tell you birth and death dates,
spouse and other family member names, military, religious, and organizational
information (i.e., Masons). Generally family members were buried near
one another, so be sure to check nearby graves for relatives.
Two good articles regarding cemeteries can be found
at the Family Tree Maker Web site: one about determining
an individual's age using cemetery records, and one about locating
cemeteries and cemetery records. If you are interested in the art
of making tombstone rubbings, be sure to read the excellent article
by Sabina J. Murray. Full instructions are given, with lots of examples.