The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide

Uncover your ancestors with this guide for how to find a grave, understand tombstones and use death records and other cemetery data in your genealogy research. This book contains detailed step-by-steps for using FindAGrave and BillionsGraves, plus guides for understanding tombstone epitaphs and symbol meanings.

SKU: R5530

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Not all research can be done from home—sometimes you have to head into the field. Cemeteries are crucial for any genealogist’s search, and this book will show you how to search for and analyze your ancestors’ graves. Discover tools for locating tombstones, tips for traipsing through cemeteries, an at-a-glance guide to frequently used gravestone icons, and practical strategies for on-the-ground research. And once you’ve 
returned home, learn how to incorporate gravestone information into your research, as well as how to upload grave locations to BillionGraves and record your findings in memorial pages on Find A Grave.

Who Should Get This Book

You’ll love The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide if…

  • You want to take your genealogy research on the road by visiting ancestors’ burial sites
  • You need an extra hand in understanding old-style handwriting and icons on tombstones
  • You’re a “tombstone tourist” who loves walking through cemeteries and wants to apply your findings to genealogy research

What’s Inside

The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide features:

  • Detailed step-by-step guides to finding ancestors’ cemeteries using 
websites like Find A Grave, plus how to record and preserve death and 
burial information
  • Tips and strategies for navigating cemeteries and finding individual 
tombstones in the field, plus an at-a-glance guide to tombstone symbols and iconography
  • Resources and techniques for discovering other death records and 
incorporating information from cemeteries into genealogical research

Excerpt: Sample Tips

Here are some tips you’ll find in The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide:

  1. Notice everything that appears on a tombstone. Some markings on a headstone are obvious, but inscriptions that are subtle or vague can provide valuable insights about your ancestor’s life. Be sure to note everything that appears on tombstones, and consider alternative ways of interpreting what you see on them.
  2. Do your part to preserve tombstones. The tombstone tourist’s number-one rule is “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.” Any form of tombstone rubbing will damage stones, so only take pictures (you can always use photo-editing software to enhance your photos later) and leave complicated preservation tasks (such as repairing headstones) to professionals.
  3. Research before your trip. Knowing the ancestors whose graves you want to visit (and where they’re located in the cemetery) will help you have a much more efficient trip. Use the cemetery’s website and resources like Find A Grave and BillionGraves to locate the cemetery office and the grave(s) you want to see ahead of time.

About The Author: Joy Neighbors

As an avowed “Tombstone Tourist,” Joy Neighbors has an avid interest in cemeteries, history, photography and genealogy. She has researched and written her weekly cemetery culture blog, A Grave Interest, for over six years, and enjoys presenting what she’s learned about cemeteries and genealogy to groups and organizations around the country.

Besides cemeteries, Joy has a passion for wine. She has worked in the wine industry as a writer, winery owner, and marketing director for over 17 years. She writes a weekly wine blog called Joy’s JOY of Wine, and is also a wine judge and a regular wine columnist for several magazines.

Joy is pursuing her MFA in creative nonfiction at Spalding University. When she’s not out “Cemetery Hopping,” she “trods the boards” as a theatre actor and is a trained Improv comedian.

Contents of the The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide:


Part 1: Planning Your Trip to the Cemetery

Chapter 1: Why Cemeteries?

Chapter 2: Cemetery Records Crash Course

Chapter 3: Finding Your Ancestors’ Graves

Part 2: Researching on Hallowed Ground

Chapter 4: Cemetery Research Strategies

Chapter 5: Reading Headstones

Chapter 6: Headstone Iconography Guide

Part 3: Making Sense of Your Research

Chapter 7: Next Steps

Chapter 8: Recording Cemetery Data Online

Part 4: Digging Deeper

Chapter 9: Other Records

Chapter 10: Preserving Cemeteries

Appendix A: Worksheets

Appendix B: More Resources

Additional Info
Additional Info
SKU R5530
Author/Speaker/Editor Joy Neighbors
Product Type Book
Binding Hardcover
ISBN 13 9781440352126
Number Of Pages 240
Skill Level Beginner, Intermediate
Customer Reviews (4)
Great Book
I bought this and read the whole thing. I found it very helpful, and also enjoyed the use of her own searchs to explain things. This book is a must read,if only for the stories she tells. Review by Teresa (Posted on 2/14/2019)
What a great resource! The descriptions and details have helped me solve a mystery on one of my ancestors tombstones - Not only is it a great historical read - it is a lesson book that you won't even realize you are reading! Review by Kristi S (Posted on 9/20/2017)
Very good book!
This book is full of useful information. Review by Leilia (Posted on 8/27/2017)
Great Book
Looks Good Review by RANDY (Posted on 8/17/2017)
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