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Genealogy Research

Successful Online Cemetery Research for Your Ancestors!

Can’t visit the family cemetery to find your ancestors? Learn how to be successful in your search with online cemetery research!

On a pretty day, you might find me out exploring an old family cemetery for my ancestors. But sometimes it’s just not possible to actually get to the family cemetery. And when that happens, well, I need to take my cemetery research on line. And in the video above, I show you how to be successful in researching your ancestors in the cemetery online.

Online Cemetery Research at FindAGrave

When you’re researching your ancestors in the cemetery online, one of the first places that you are probably going to go is FindaGrave. It’s one of the best known cemetery research sites online that genealogists use. Now, if you haven’t used FindaGrave before and you’re new, it is a user submitted website for documenting cemeteries and grave sites. In the video above, I turned my camera around and gave you a quick little tour of the FindAGrave site.

Things to be aware of as you research on user-submitted genealogy sites

Regardless of what cemetery or other genealogy site that provides user-submitted infomation, you need to be cautious about blindly accepting the information as fact.

Keep in mind:

  • Transcriptions errors can occur.
  • Information on tombstones is considered a secondary source.
  • An ancestor’s tombstone may have been placed many years – even decades! – after his/her death. Memories can be inaccurate.
  • Be wary of additional family information provided that is unsourced.
Black and white tombstones with red box with whiite text readhing Online cemetery research
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Online Cemetery Research with BillionGraves

BillionGraves is very similar to FindAGrave in that it, too, is based on user submitted information. One of the biggest differences that you’ll find is that the grave sites on the BillionGraves actually have a GPS location attached to them. This means you can use your phone’s GPS to help you find that grave site.

When you are in a large cemetery, or even out in a more rural area, that can make the difference between finding your ancestor’s actual grave or not.

The first thing you’re going to do is download the BillionGraves app, then click “Find Headstones” to look for a specific grave site that you might be searching for.

Screenshot of BillionGraves App

But if you’re more interested in finding maybe a an actual cemetery, you can click “Find Cemeteries”. You will then be taken to a map where you can explore the general area and see what cemeteries have been recorded.

Screenshot of map feature on BillionGraves app

BillionGraves is free to use. If you register for a free user account, you are able to access certain features of the app. If you wish, you have the option of upgrading to BillionGraves Plus, which allows you access to even more features and is also ad free.

Online Cemetery Research with CemeteryCensus.com

CemeteryCensus.org is another lesser known website that I like to use. And it is a another free user submitted site for some materialistic, the information here is provided by volunteers who have performed these cemetery surveys and uploaded the information to the website.

Screenshot of Cemetery Census homepage

Again, I turned my camera around in the video to give you a really quick tour of CemeteryCensus.com.

Major Genealogy Databases for Cemetery Research

Don’t overlook the major genealogical databases they all have information on cemetery research as well These include Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, MyHeritage and FindMyPast.

In those user family trees, you might find information that others have attached to a family tree that has a photograph of ancestors tombstone. Now again, always remember, when you are looking at someone else’s family tree, you want to make sure that you verify any information.

The other thing to do when you’re on those major genealogy databases like Ancestry.com, is to go to their card catalog and search for “cemetery records”. You will see the databases they have and be able to filter it out to a location and a time period.

In the video I show you how to search for cemeteries on Ancestry.com. The same strategies works on the other websites as well.

Online Cemetery Research for Individual Cemeteries

Do not overlook the individual cemetery websites themselves. Some have quite robust websites and actually have the ability for you to search for specific grave sites as well. Be sure and check them out!

Keep Learning….

If you want to learn more about researching your ancestor in the cemetery, watch this next video on your screen. Seven Steps to genealogy research in the cemetery to make sure that you are getting the most out of your cemetery research

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