Genealogists love cemeteries, and the records you find there can be game-changers for your research. In fact, a tombstone might be the only record that remains of your ancestor. But cemeteries can lie far from the comfort of your desktop computer or smartphone. Cemetery websites help you cover that distance, with searchable grave databases, pictures and online memorials that give you a virtual tour of your ancestor’s final resting place. Here are the five best cemetery websites.
Look here for information on more than 200,000 burials and memorials in overseas US military cemeteries (most for the World Wars). Also find names from the Walls of the Missing at the East Coast Memorial, West Coast Memorial and Honolulu Memorial.
BillionGraves collects crowdsourced gravestone images, transcriptions and GPS data. A partnership with MyHeritage has made the site and mobile app (iOS, Android and Windows) available in 25 languages. Register to search the site for free; additional perks (including GPS searches for nearby relatives’ burials) come with a BillionGraves+ membership.
3. Find A Grave
This free Ancestry-owned site, which has an app for iOS and Android, compiles user-contributed gravestone inscriptions and other data. Be sure to verify any biographical information and “calculated relationships” provided in your relatives’ memorials. We’ve got a guide to the new changes that have come to Find A Grave in the past few years.
This fast-growing, free website sources cemetery records from government offices, genealogical and historical organizations, and individuals. You’ll find “Special Collections” of burials and deaths related to flooded cemeteries, mine disasters and the Woodmen of the World fraternal organization. The site’s search form allows for name variants and misspellings.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs runs this database. Search for burials of veterans and their family members in VA national cemeteries, state veterans cemeteries, other military and Department of Interior cemeteries, and private cemeteries (with graves marked with government grave markers). Also be on the lookout for military headstone applications, which the families of deceased veterans filed to receive special military markers.
Tombstones aren’t the only genealogy records you can find in cemeteries. Learn more about graveyard research with our guide to cemetery records and the book The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide. For a limited time, you can also get our Cemetery Research Premium Collection, which features the Cemetery Field Guide as well as a video how-to guide for Find A Grave, cemetery transcription forms and more.