Gravestone Symbols and Their Hidden MeaningsREAD MORE
FROM THE FAMILY TREE SHOP
Cemetery Research Cheat Sheet
In this Cheat Sheet, you’ll find guides to popular tombstone symbols, step-by-steps for using tombstone databases and the top records you should be searching for in cemeteries.
Cemetery Websites and Apps
Cemetery and Tombstone Field Research
Take Better Tombstone Photos
Cemetery and Gravestone Preservation
Cemetery and Gravestone Research Resources
American Battle Monuments Commission: Search for WWI, WWII and Korean War casualties who are buried in commission cemeteries or listed on the Walls of the Missing.
Ancestors at Rest: Scan the photos and transcriptions of coffin plates, funeral cards, obituaries, wills and other death records for your ancestors’ names.
Cyndi’s List: Cemeteries & Funeral Homes: Links to sites with obituary data, cemetery transcriptions and funeral home records.
Cemetery Junction: This directory of US, Canadian and Australian cemeteries has links to websites and, where available, tombstone transcriptions.
Cemetery Surveys: A simple search of this site — focused mostly on Southeastern states — lets you zoom to potential ancestors’ tombstone transcriptions and photos.
Cemetery Transcriptions From the NEHGS Manuscript Collections: NEHGS members can search this growing database, which covers more than 1,650 cemeteries and burial grounds in New England, New York and eastern Canada.
Farber Gravestone Collection: View more than 13,500 images documenting 9,000 mostly pre-1800 gravestones in the Northeastern United States. Captions list the name of the person buried, year of death and location of the cemetery.
Find a Grave: Get burial information on thousands of well-known people or use the “non-famous” search of 7.5 million records.
Genealogy.com Virtual Cemetery: Site visitors submit the tombstone details in this database. Many entries include photos, so you can see the stones.
Historic Congressional Cemetery: Search 20,000 obituaries and death notices, plus other documents relating to the 60,000 people buried here.
Interment.net: Access nearly 3.9 million cemetery records from 8,000-plus cemeteries around the world.
Kentucky Cemetery Database: This database, an ongoing Kentucky Historical Society project, contains 179,750 gravestone records from 3,170 cemeteries.
Links to Resources on Cemetery History and Preservation: This portal links to cemetery Web sites, records databases, online discussion groups and more.
Los Angeles County Burial Permits, 1870 to 1892: Browse the Southern California Genealogical Society’s alphabetical database of LA burial permits.
Michigan Cemetery Sources: Search a directory of 3,700 cemeteries, then click the links to find transcriptions in books, microfilms and online.
Nationwide Gravesite Locator: This database lists veterans and their dependents buried in Veterans Affairs National Cemeteries and state-run veterans cemeteries.
New Mexico Ancestors: Dig up tombstone photos — along with thousands of record transcriptions — for your forebears from the Land of Enchantment.
Tombstone Art and Symbols: Consult this illustrated glossary of common tombstone carvings to learn their meanings.
USAFuneralHomesOnline.com:Track down your ancestors’ death records with assistance from this comprehensive guide to the nation’s funeral homes.
USGenWeb Tombstone Transcription Project: Ancestors buried far away? This volunteer-run project lists cemeteries by state, along with links to transcriptions. You might even find a kind soul who’ll do a lookup or visit a cemetery for you.
BOOKS AND PUBLICATIONS*
Cemeteries and Gravemarkers: Voices of American Culture edited by Richard Meyer (Umi Research Press)
Ethnicity and the American Cemetery edited by Richard Meyer (Bowling Green University Popular Press)
Graven Images: New England Stone-carving and Its Symbols by Allan I, Ludwig (Wesleyan University Press)
The Last Great Necessity: Cemeteries in American History by David Charles Sloane (Johns Hopkins University Press)
Silent Cities: Cemeteries and Classrooms by Alexia J. Helsley (South Carolina Department of Archives and History)
Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography by Douglas Keister (Gibbs Smith, Publisher)
Tombstones of Your Ancestors by Louis S. Schafer (Heritage Books)
Underfoot: An Everyday Guide to Exploring the American Past by David Weitzman (Encore Editions)
*FamilyTreeMagazine.com is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. It provides a means for this site to earn advertising fees, by advertising and linking to Amazon and affiliated websites.
See All Cemetery and Gravestone Articles See All
How to Conduct Thorough Cemetery Genealogy Research
Cemeteries can provide endless information about your ancestors. It helps to know where to find this information and how to get it. Here's a guide to help.
Memorialize Family Stories with Remembering a Life
Keep family memories alive with RememberingALife.com, a site created by the National Funeral Directors Association. Sponsored by RememberingALife.com.