Not all genealogy records exist online or on paper. Cemeteries and tombstones of ancestors are an excellent way of discovering more about your family members. Learn how to use cemetery websites, what different gravestone symbols mean, and much more!
In this Cheat Sheet, you’ll find guides to popular tombstone symbols, step-by-steps for using tombstone databases and the top records you should be searching for in cemeteries.
American Battle Monuments Commission: Search for WWI, WWII and Korean War casualties who are buried in commission cemeteries or listed on the Walls of the Missing.
Ancestors at Rest: Scan the photos and transcriptions of coffin plates, funeral cards, obituaries, wills and other death records for your ancestors’ names.
Cyndi’s List: Cemeteries & Funeral Homes: Links to sites with obituary data, cemetery transcriptions and funeral home records.
Cemetery Junction: This directory of US, Canadian and Australian cemeteries has links to websites and, where available, tombstone transcriptions.
Cemetery Surveys: A simple search of this site — focused mostly on Southeastern states — lets you zoom to potential ancestors’ tombstone transcriptions and photos.
Cemetery Transcriptions From the NEHGS Manuscript Collections: NEHGS members can search this growing database, which covers more than 1,650 cemeteries and burial grounds in New England, New York and eastern Canada.
Farber Gravestone Collection: View more than 13,500 images documenting 9,000 mostly pre-1800 gravestones in the Northeastern United States. Captions list the name of the person buried, year of death and location of the cemetery.
Find a Grave: Get burial information on thousands of well-known people or use the “non-famous” search of 7.5 million records.
Genealogy.com Virtual Cemetery: Site visitors submit the tombstone details in this database. Many entries include photos, so you can see the stones.
Historic Congressional Cemetery: Search 20,000 obituaries and death notices, plus other documents relating to the 60,000 people buried here.
Interment.net: Access nearly 3.9 million cemetery records from 8,000-plus cemeteries around the world.
Kentucky Cemetery Database: This database, an ongoing Kentucky Historical Society project, contains 179,750 gravestone records from 3,170 cemeteries.
Links to Resources on Cemetery History and Preservation: This portal links to cemetery Web sites, records databases, online discussion groups and more.
Los Angeles County Burial Permits, 1870 to 1892: Browse the Southern California Genealogical Society’s alphabetical database of LA burial permits.
Michigan Cemetery Sources: Search a directory of 3,700 cemeteries, then click the links to find transcriptions in books, microfilms and online.
Nationwide Gravesite Locator: This database lists veterans and their dependents buried in Veterans Affairs National Cemeteries and state-run veterans cemeteries.
New Mexico Ancestors: Dig up tombstone photos — along with thousands of record transcriptions — for your forebears from the Land of Enchantment.
Tombstone Art and Symbols: Consult this illustrated glossary of common tombstone carvings to learn their meanings.
USAFuneralHomesOnline.com:Track down your ancestors’ death records with assistance from this comprehensive guide to the nation’s funeral homes.
USGenWeb Tombstone Transcription Project: Ancestors buried far away? This volunteer-run project lists cemeteries by state, along with links to transcriptions. You might even find a kind soul who’ll do a lookup or visit a cemetery for you.
Symbols carved on ancestor tombstones can tell us so much about a person, but can sometimes be tricky to decipher. This handy guide, complete with example p...
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