Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I seek dead people!

No, I am not a vampire hunter! ALL genealogists seek dead people! Once we move past researching our living relatives, it is all we do.

As genealogists, we are trained to work from the most recent events to the furthest past. So when we learn the name of a new ancestor or relative, what we are looking for first is the death record. 

One of the quickest ways to track down an ancestor's death date is to search for their tombstone on one of the online cemetery sites. There are three main ones:
  2. BillionGraves
  3. Find A Grave
1. is a publisher of cemetery transcriptions for use by genealogists and local historians. Visitors use this site to help locate burials of family & friends, trace family history and learn something about cemeteries in general. 

2. Billion Graves Their goal is to preserve precious records found in cemeteries throughout the world. Using modern technology, they capture images of headstones with their GPS locations so users worldwide can access those records anywhere.

3. Find A Grave  Find a Grave's mission is to find, record and present final disposition information from around the world as a virtual cemetery experience.  

Each of the sites provide pictures and ways for volunteers to participate. You can narrow your search by location, first names, dates of death, etc.

My favorite is Find A Grave. It has a cleaner look with less advertisement. Plus, more volunteers work for Find A Grave resulting in many more search returns. For example, search for the surname JOHNSON on each of the sites. Interment returns 6,100 hits, BillionGraves, returns 94,000 and Findagrave finds 190,250 JOHNSON graves!

The draw back to these sites is that they mostly cover deaths that have occurred in the last 150-200 years. If the cemetery or the tombstone no  longer exists, they will not cover them.

If you are looking for a veteran that was buried in one of the US Veteran's cemeteries, you will want to check out the Department of Veterans Affairs Gravesite Locator.

For other cemetery transcriptions, remember to search the county's USGenWeb site for cemetery listings.

Now get out there and dig up some dead relatives!

But not literally...


Linda Jean Limes Ellis said...

Thank you for sharing this information. Also, for Ohio, is another resource for someone to check with 197,000 photographs of gravestones across Ohio.

Other online gravestone transcriptions for Ohio, for example, include the websites of chapters of the Ohio Genealogical Society Chapters.

Many larger cemeteries in Ohio offer searches for their burials, including a growing number covered by Catholic Cemetery Associations such as in the Cleveland Catholic Diocese. A bit of "Googling" in search engines can result in more possibilities.

I personally like Find A Grave myself. I consider the interments to be memorializations of each deceased person posted. There are even cenotaphs and scattered ashes included. Now, not only do family links like spouse, parent and child are shown on Find A Grave memorials, siblings are now as well; which help complete the genealogical information connected to the person's memorial. As time goes on more and more will be available online.

Also, as genealogists are research often leads us to finding our ancestors gravesites. Further, we learn that their gravestones may not be in the best of shape which prompts us to want to do something about rectifying problems where cleaning, repairing, or re-setting of a gravestone is needed. A person has to be quite careful not to use harmful products, tools, and procedures on gravestones.

Preserving Ohio's Cemeteries on Facebook promotes Best Pratice Guidelines put forth by such organizations as the National Park's Service, NCPTT. Cleaning mistakes on gravestones, for example, can be irreversible. So, making those kinds of mistakes is something to be avoided.

Kat said...

Thank you for your comments Linda. I was not aware of the Ohiogravestones site.
I like the look of it. Nice clean background.

Linda Jean Limes Ellis said...

Yes, just might have a photograph of a gravestone that someone is seeking to see, and possibily with biographical information included that may not be found anywhere else online.