Cemetery Essentials for the Genealogist

Cemetery Essentials for the Genealogist

Visiting your ancestor's grave? Here's what to take along to the cemetery.

Like a research trip to the library or courthouse, you need to be prepared for an expedition to the cemetery. I have a tote bag with my cemetery tools just for such excursions. Whenever I need to make visit a graveyard, I’m ready to go. Here are my essentials:

  • notebook and pens or pencils (always copy down the inscription, even though you may take a photograph or make a rubbing)
  • vest or apron with multiple pockets for your equipment
  • gardener’s knee pads for clearing away overgrown weeds and grass that hamper reading or photographing the inscription
  • garden shears to trim away the weeds and grass
  • whisk broom to remove the weed and grass trimmings and some of the dirt from the base of the stone
  • soft plastic or nylon brush (never wire) to gently remove dirt and bird droppings from the stone
  • sunscreen
  • moist towelettes to clean your hands
  • bug repellent
  • camera (don’t forget extra film and/or batteries)
  • spray bottle filled with water to bring out the tombstone inscription
  • mirror (preferably full-length) to reflect sunlight onto the stone for picture-taking

Need help finding out where your ancestors are buried? Want to get the most out of your cemetery research trip? Check out these resources from the experts at Family Tree Magazine:

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