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Searching Cemetery Records for Your Family's Past
When it comes to researching your ancestry, the one step that you can usually count on needing to take is researching cemetery records in order to start pieces your family history puzzle together. Searching through cemetery records provides you with access to decades of death records all in one place. There is no need to visit dozens of cemeteries scattered around the country in order to gain access to the information that you need; cemetery records have been gathered together and made available to search in a wide variety of ways.

Online Access to Cemetery Records.
As part of the effort to create a comprehensive source of genealogy records, many cemetery records have been added to the various online databases offering ancestry searches. There are even websites that are dedicated to cemetery records alone. Of course, there are an incredible number of cemeteries in the US alone, and countless around the world. Some of which have records going back hundreds of years. This valuable information requires an incredible effort to gather and make available to the public via the internet. Some local and state historical societies have made the effort to create a records search for their area, but there are many areas that might not be covered.

The internet is a great place to start your search but you may find that the cemetery records you need have not yet been made a part of the currently available databases online. Most researchers will run into this problem at some point and need to access a different source for death and cemetery records. At this point you will likely need to search at the local level.

Finding Cemetery Records Off Of the Internet.
If you have failed to locate the records you need on the available internet databases, you will likely need to take a slightly lower-tech approach and go about it the old-fashioned way. Of course, it is helpful if you have a good idea of where the person in question died. It helps even more if you know their religious affiliation as you can then narrow down the cemetery search to records for that type of religious burial. Not all cemeteries are affiliated with any particular religion however, so you may need to look at cemetery records for funeral homes, memorial parks and other non-denominational burial places.

This can be a slow and tedious process especially if you donít have a good idea of where the person you are seeking lived and died. A good way to narrow things down is to try searching through obituaries. If you know the city where the person lived, you can start by searching the local newspapers for an obituary. This will usually lead you to the funeral home or place of worship where the services were held and then to the gravesite itself. Once you know where the services were held it is much easier to find the right cemetery records. Even if the person was buried in a different location from where they lived, the obituary should point you in the right direction.

Military Cemetery Records.
It is a sad fact that millions of people died in locations far from home, many of them in unmarked graves due to failure to identify them. Fortunately not all of those graves are unmarked, and military cemeteries around the world provide good records that can help you to locate family members who died in the line of duty during World Wars or other conflicts. Military cemetery records are in some cases available for online searches, or you can contact the cemetery in question if you have a good idea of where your military ancestor is buried. Start by researching where other members of the same military branch and company were buried. This will often lead you to find the ancestor in question.

Cemetery Records can Expand your Search.
When you locate cemetery records that include members of your family, you can not only put together another piece of the puzzle, but also find new leads to people not yet on your radar. Families were often buried in the same location, even over long periods of time, so once you located one ancestor in the cemetery records you are likely to find others. This is especially true in places where large families lived in near proximity to each other and had the same religious affiliation. While it can be difficult to find the right source of records initially, once you find a record you may find a domino effect of discoveries.

Cemetery records can also help lead you to other records of interest in your ancestry search. When you locate a church cemetery in which ancestors are buried that church is likely to have records of other family events such as marriages and baptisms. This can expand your discovery to include the family of the ancestor buried there; their spouse, children and even parents, leading you to more records and more of your family tree.

Cemetery records are closely related to death records and obituary searches but may provide information about ancestors you cannot find anywhere else. While death records may be spotty in some places, cemeteries themselves keep their own records, as do funeral homes and churches. This means you might find someone not located in these other records in the cemetery records.

Most people start with death records when they begin their search into their ancestry, and then move on to cemetery records; it is becoming however one of the most popular resources as the records become more readily available online. Cemetery records are an excellent resource for uncovering new branches of the family tree through the connections cemeteries often have to places of worship where other records are kept. For this reason they are one of the most important tools at your disposal in researching your family history. Although it is unlikely that every cemetery in the world will ever be added to the online archives, there are more and more being added all the time, creating a large wealth of knowledge through which we can find our past.

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