Smartphones and cemeteries go together like ice cream and Grandma’s apple pie. Without your phone, you’d have to pack a map, GPS device, laptop and camera to get around the cemetery, type inscriptions and take pictures. Your phone lets you do it all with one pocket-sized device.
Apps especially designed for cemetery visitors make it easier to accomplish all this (although if the cemetery is remote, see what the app lets you do when you’re offline). Some of these apps focus on exploring particular cemeteries; others cover multiple burial places. Use the URLs provided here to learn more about each app, and download the app from your device’s app store.
And if you’re visiting a large historic cemetery, it’s a good idea to plug its name into your smartphone’s app store. Some of these cemeteries have their own apps to help you navigate the grounds and locate gravesites.
iOS, Android • free
This app, introduced in 2012, helps you explore the rich history of Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. Use it to search for gravesites and other points of interest, get step-by-step directions, view photos of markers and monuments, and follow self-guided tours. You can save photos and favorite places in the new My Content area. The app also delivers notifications of special events and makes it easy to share your photos on social media.
On-site visitors can download the app using the cemetery’s free WiFi in the Welcome Center and Administration Building, or use it at kiosks throughout the cemetery.
iOS, Android, Windows • free
The BillionGraves website, launched in 2011, introduced its app to allow members to upload gravestone images along with GPS location data to its online cemetery database. There, others can transcribe the inscriptions (unlike on Find A Grave, no one “owns,” a memorial, so any BillionGraves member can contribute to it). You also can search for relatives’ burial sites among the 20.5 million-plus on the site, and be led right there, courtesy of the GPS coordinates.
Find A Grave
iOS, Android • free
Ancestry.com developed this companion app to genealogy’s best-known cemetery website after acquiring the site in 2013. Use it to search for burial information and gravestone images among the 160 million online memorials volunteers have logged at Find A Grave. When you’re visiting a cemetery, the app lets you upload inscription data and photos of graves you visit, and fulfill others’ requests for pictures of their ancestors’ gravesites.
Historic Oakland Cemetery
iOS, Android • free ($1.99 upgrade)
This app takes cemetery visitors on a tour of more than 60 points of interest throughout Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery, including the “Original Six Acres,” historic African American and Jewish burial grounds, the Confederate section, and others. Photos and narration accompany each landmark. The app includes 10 free landmarks; upgrade to unlock all of them.
iOS • free
Canadians will find this app handy for searching for loved ones in cemeteries from six locations in Canada, including Woodlawn Cemetery in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; and Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver, British Columbia. View details such as the deceased’s name, date of death and burial date and location on a high-resolution map, along with your current GPS location. For many records, the app also provides GPS coordinates and displays the grave on a map to help you find it.
Android • free
Got a hankering to see a cemetery? This simple app lets you find and navigate to cemeteries near your location or another place you specify.
CWGC War Graves
iOS, Android • free
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s free War Graves app lets you search for graves of 1.7 million British casualties of the World Wars in more than 23,000 cemeteries, memorials and other locations in 153 countries. A directions function helps you find your way, or tap Cemeteries Nearby to find war graves within five miles of your current location. To find a specific gravesite, start with the Find a Cemetery function.
A version of this article appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of Family Tree Magazine.