Introduction to Red Book: Cemetery Records
This entry was originally written by Alice Eichholz, Ph.D., CG for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
Cemetery records usually refer to information collected from grave markers. Inscriptions on gravestones and the location of a grave in relation to those of others in the same cemetery provide good evidence for genealogical research. The major problem with using cemetery records is trying to locate the cemetery in which a person was buried.
If the cemetery records for a targeted area have not been transcribed and published, which is likely to be the case then on-site work may be the solution. Although more and more local historical groups have been transcribing gravestones found in their local cemeteries, many stones are illegible or missing and there may not be cemetery sexton’s records to consult. For years, local and state chapters of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) have been making yearly contributions to this source material. They combine cemetery records with family, Bible, and church records in local areas to document vital events and family relationships. Three typescript copies are made for each volume produced. One copy stays with the chapter, and one is deposited in one of the state’s repositories. Some states have not identified a single repository to be the recipient of the volumes, and they are spread out among several sites. The third copy is held by the DAR Library in Washington, D.C. Many volumes have been microfilmed and are additionally available through the FHL. Some states have active associations that are cataloging the locations and conditions of cemeteries. These associations are listed in the appropriate state chapter.
There is a growing collection of gravestone transcriptions on the Internet. Two important sites for these are www.interment.net and the many projects offered through the USGenWeb www.usgenweb.org. Another alternative is to try entering “cemeteries in _____ location” in an online search engine, like Google, to locate online records or sources.
To locate a funeral home, the best book is The National Yellow Book of Funeral Directors (Youngstown, Ohio: Norris Publications, annually). Two websites for locating funeral home addresses are www.funeralnet.com and www.usafuneralhomes.com.