A Closer Look at Cemetery Records Cemetery Research

Alternative Sources of Records: A Closer Look at Cemetery Records #4

If you are looking for cemetery records and can’t seem to find them anywhere, there are a few good alternative locations you can look. There will be times when the records just do not exist or are not accessible, but it is always worth it to check every possible potential source. These are some of the most common alternative sources of these records.


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There are times when you just can’t seem to find the cemetery records you are looking for, no matter where you go. It could be that the records were never kept in the first place, they were destroyed long ago, they were lost long ago (possibly sitting in a box in a dusty basement somewhere, with no record of it ever having been put there, and not having been looked at in decades or centuries), or they do exist, but no one you talk to can direct you to the correct place to find them (which is, admittedly, frustrating). This does not mean that you are totally out of luck on finding some kind of cemetery record, though. These are some alternative sources you can try to find them, or to find approximations of such records. They are all worth checking.

Old Newspaper Records: The most obvious source of cemetery records in old newspapers is in obituaries. These will only tell you where one person was buried, but you can at least use this information to visit that cemetery and find out if your ancestor has a headstone or not, as well as if there are any other ancestors buried nearby (assuming they have headstones). You may find some unexpected and valuable information by visiting a cemetery mentioned in just one obituary.

Cemetery Compilation Books: You can usually find these at the genealogy departments of local libraries, or sometimes at local university libraries if the town library doesn’t have a genealogy department. These are books of inscriptions on headstones in local cemeteries. Newer ones usually have information you could find by going to the cemetery yourself, unless you don’t know which cemetery to go to, in which case the book would be valuable to you. Older ones are often quite valuable, because they were done in the 1800s or early 1900s, and often have inscriptions for stones that have been broken or destroyed by time, or whose inscriptions have weathered to the point to being unreadable in modern times.



Local Historical Societies: Some of these will have an actual building you can go to in order to search through their records. Others don’t have a building, but do have members who trade off on the job of record keeper. Getting in touch with someone from a local historical society will let you know if they have cemetery records from where your ancestors lived, and if they do, how you can get access to this information. A lot of times, members will be happy to make copies of records for you, sometimes for a small fee and sometimes for free.

County Government Buildings: If the town or city you’re looking in is unincorporated, the county government buildings may be the repositories of the cemetery records of those unincorporated parts of the county. Accessing the records may involve a drive to the county seat, but it is worth it to be able to view them. Always call a county government building first before going, to find out if they keep these types of historical records.

 

Will Moneymaker

Will established Ancestral Findings in 1995 and has helped genealogy researchers for over 25 years. He is also a freelance photographer, husband of twenty-eight years, father of four children, and has one grandchild.