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GenealogySpot > Grave Matters

Grave Matters

A crumbling gravestone hidden under a mass of tangled vines in a country churchyard cemetery can provide a wealth of genealogical information. Whether you're a devoted taphophile (or lover of cemeteries as cultural artifacts) or just getting started, the Internet can help you with this fascinating branch of genealogical research.

If you already know the birth and death dates for your ancestor, what good will a gravestone do? Find out at About.com's Genealogy Research in the Cemetery. The article also details how to locate a cemetery and what to expect during a visit.

Genealogy.com features an article about research involving cemeteries and funeral homes. Check out the library at "The Mausoleum" for lots of how-to articles.

The Internet has made gravestone research much easier than in the past. Instead of spending hours on the phone trying to ascertain where an ancestor's remains are located, or traveling thousands of miles to an old gravesite, you can now search cemetery databases at the click of a mouse. Cemetery Junction contains indexes and directories of United States and Australian cemeteries. While some cemeteries simply provide contact information, many have directories with searching capabilities. Check out The Cemetery Trail to explore cemeteries around the country.




At Cemetery Records Online, you can search for a grave by surname or browse the library for helpful articles. GeneaSearch's Cemetery Resources provides links to a variety of online databases. At Find A Grave, you can search for the graves of both famous and "regular" people. Cyndi's List and Cemeteries both have exhaustive lists of all the cemetery and funeral home indexes on the Web.

Unfortunately, many gravesites are in a precarious situation. Cemeteries are threatened by new development and lack of maintenance. Even the sturdiest tombstones are subject to the ravages of time. Luckily, there are organizations devoted to the preservation of cemeteries and the valuable data they contain. The USGenWeb Tombstone Transcription Project recruits volunteers to transcribe and archive tombstone inscriptions so that the information will be easily accessible to all.

Saving Graves works to educate people on cemetery preservation. You can report an endangered cemetery and read about preservation efforts worldwide. The site also explains how to Clean a Gravestone and Do a Gravestone Rubbing (look under the "library" heading).

Increased awareness of the dangers cemeteries face has led to preservation efforts. CTGravestones.com outlines a few state statutes that you may find useful to ensure that your own research doesn't threaten the cemeteries in which you work.




   --- J. Walker

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