A Closer Look at Cemetery Records Cemetery Research

Municipal Sources of Records: A Closer Look at Cemetery Records #3

Municipal Sources of Records: A Closer Look at Cemetery Records #3

If there is no obvious place to look for cemetery records, such as an office at the cemetery or a church attached to it, there are other places in a city or a town you can look. In fact, there are several possible municipal sources of older cemetery records. These are the best places to look for them.


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If there is no obvious cemetery office or attached church where you might find records, and the cemetery seems too young for its records to be at a historical society, you might try municipal sources. Some towns and cities kept cemetery records for municipal cemeteries beginning in the mid-1800s. The cemetery might even have records for older burials than that available at municipal sources if it is an ancient cemetery that is still in use. These are the most common municipal locations that might keep those important cemetery records.

The City Hall or Town Hall: A lot of cities and towns have cemetery departments. These departments have offices at the city or town hall, and they can be excellent sources for finding cemetery records. You will usually have to tell them you are searching for family information, as the workers there may not want to give the information to just anyone. Most of the workers there at these places are quite accommodating to genealogists, though, if they are not busy with other customers they day you come to their office. You can often even find maps of cemeteries at these locations, including interesting maps of unmarked burials as well as ones with old or new headstones on them.

The Department of Public Works: Because the care and upkeep of older cemeteries is often turned over to the Department of Public Works (or a similarly named department), some cities and towns keep their cemetery records at those departments. As with a cemetery department at a city or town hall, you will usually be able to find records of burials and maps of the cemetery at the department of public works. It is definitely worth it to check there, even if no one at the city or town hall knows where the records are kept. Sometimes, they just don’t know, especially if it is not common for people to come in asking for this kind of information. Check with the Department of Public Works, and you might be surprised at what you find. They may also be able to direct you to where the records are located, if they don’t have them there.



The Public Library: Even small towns may have a public library with a genealogy department. Sometimes, the records from older cemeteries are sent there. If the cemetery is still currently in use, but is old, the library may keep records up to a certain date, and the city or town hall may keep the newer records. Always check with the local public library for cemetery records if you have not been able to locate them anywhere else.

The Public Library, Part Two: If the library doesn’t have cemetery records per se, they may have genealogy books on local genealogy and history that have records of burials in local cemeteries. The librarians can direct you to these books, though you may have to spend some time going through them to find the information you need, particularly if the genealogy books are not indexed.

 

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.