Find My Ancestor Blog

Graveyard Preparedness – Part 2

This is part of a series on being prepared when visiting cemeteries in your genealogy research.

In my previous post I shared with you my unpreparedness on visiting a local cemetery recently and how foolish I felt after getting to the cemetery and finding the grave covered with mud and my camera battery dead. I hope this series will help others out there to learn from my mistakes and be prepared to visit cemeteries with a great outcome.
The first thing we need to do in order to find our ancestor's graves is know where they are buried. There are some really great websites out there that can help us with our search. My personal favorite is Find A Grave located at Find A Grave has over 44 million grave records, all of which have been added by volunteers. Some have made only a few contributions, while there are volunteers like T.V.F.T.H. who has contributed more than 474,000 memorials! Not all memorials on Find A Grave have the exact location of the grave in the cemetery, but many of them do.

Another great website that I came across a while ago is Names In Stone located at Names In Stone is still fairly new and does not have as many names and cemeteries as Find A Grave. By clicking on Cemetery List on the homepage you can see the states that currently have databases on the site. Names In Stone has a couple of really great features that I really like and find very handy! The GPS locations are given for the cemeteries, which you can then put into your GPS when finding the cemetery, or input those coordinates into Google Earth and view the cemetery at an aerial view. The other great feature I really like about Names In Stone is that they have maps for the cemeteries with the names of the internments. This is very helpful when you are looking for the grave and you can see who is around the person you are looking for.
Remember that on both of these websites it is all volunteers who have entered in the information. Some people on Find A Grave enter thousands of names a year into the database even if they are not related to the people. If you come across someone that has entered information about your ancestor and they are not related, you can always ask to have that memorial transferred into your possession so you can be the manager. Most people, especially those who are not related to the person will be more than willing to transfer it to you. Anyway, I am getting off on a tangent.  

Many cemeteries, counties, or cities have online databases where you can search for people by name, birth, and death dates. Some are definitely better than others. You can usually do a Google search on the city or town name with cemetery in the search box. I also go to state government websites like or to find databases and cemetery lists.

One great place to search for cemeteries is Cyndi's List. There you can find many resources on cemeteries, volunteers who take photos, mailing lists, societies, and much more.

Graveyard Preparedness Checklist
  • Charge camera battery
  • Make sure there is enough room on the camera's memory card
  • Research location of grave

Comments (3) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Find My Ancestor,

    Using Find-A-Grave, I find it helpful to take a number of print outs, especially, if you are looking for a headstone and haven't been to the cemetery before.

    + All Surnames in Cemetery

    + Birth Surnames for females

    + Look for the Photo ICON and look at some of the head stones of interest to get a feel for where the headstone you are looking for is locate. Check to see what is in the background.

    Thanks for this series.


  2. I thought of you this afternoon when I pulled out my camera to take a picture of a family heirloom that another relative has. My battery was dead. Sheez! I'll have to try again tomorrow.

  3. Thanks Michelle! It is good to know that I am not the only one who pulls out my camera only to find the battery dead!

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