Using Grave Websites
Episode #7 of the course Researching your genealogy by Alisa Miller
Welcome back! Today, we’re working on Lesson 7, which is about using grave websites to discover information about your family. We’ll look at some of the specific websites available and what you might learn about your family through these sites.
There are three major grave websites. I’ll go through each one and share some of the highlights, then I’ll share a couple of other sites that may be useful as well.
Probably the most comprehensive site is Find A Grave. Find A Grave is populated by volunteers who record information from each grave in cemeteries throughout the US and other countries. Because this is volunteer driven, not every grave is listed. Having said that, Find A Grave does have an amazing number of graves recorded. Some entries also include photos of the grave. To use Find A Grave, you simply enter your family member’s name to search. You have the option to enter a birth date, death date, and/or a location of the cemetery where you believe your family member is buried.
BillionGraves works very similarly to Find A Grave. From my experience, this site doesn’t seem to have quite as many entries, but that could also be a situation with my family, much of whom are buried in smaller communities rather than large cities. With BillionGraves, you enter your family member’s name and search. You will probably get a huge number of results, and on that result page, you have the opportunity to narrow your search by birth or death year and location.
Nationwide Gravesite Locator is a database of all US federal and state military cemeteries with records from 1997 to present day. This site is run by the US Department of Veteran Affairs and is updated daily. If your family member was a US veteran or the spouse of a veteran and buried in a military cemetery since 1997, you will find a record of their grave here.
The next two sites I’ll share with you are smaller sites, but they may provide information useful to your search. The first is Cemetery Junction. Here, you can search for public cemeteries in the US, Canada, and Australia, as well as some family cemeteries. There is also an Obituary Depot you can search to find obituaries.
The second site is Interment.net. Like Cemetery Junction, Interment.net has links to specific cemeteries, but it also contains links to databases for flooded cemeteries, trainwreck deaths, ship disasters, and airship disasters.
What You Might Find
When you explore these grave websites, the amount of information you may find can vary widely. Some entries may only include the person’s name and date of death, while other entries may be quite expansive. If you find one of these entries with more information, you may discover a photo of the gravestone, an obituary, biographical information, and sometimes, links to other relatives who are also in that grave website. In all these searches, you will also learn the exact location of the grave within the cemetery.
While searching in the Nationwide Gravesite Locator, you will also learn the deceased person’s rank, the wars in which they were involved, and their exact birth and death dates. It appears that the entries in this grave website are also in the other two major grave websites. If you find a relative in the Nationwide Gravesite Locator, it might be worthwhile to take that information and search in one of the other websites too. Frequently, you’ll find a photo of their gravestone, which is not in the Nationwide Gravesite Locator, and sometimes a little extra information, such as any military decorations they received.
I hope you enjoy exploring these websites. You may be surprised at what you discover with just a little searching. Tomorrow, we’re going to learn how to access military records for your ancestors and what you might discover from these.
Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques by George G. Morgan
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