Friday, January 29, 2010

Tips using the Find-a-Grave website

This seems to be a week for reviewing good resources. A nice article on,"Find A Grave can shorten the search,"  by Sharon Tate Moody points out the benefits of the Find-a-Grave website, with the caveat that nothing takes the place of visiting ancestor graves personally and making that "spiritual connection." The article provides some tips for a successful search. It also observes the site's focus on celebrity grave sites, while distracting (if not downright annoying) to  genealogists, is the very reason the site exists at all, so we can be a little tolerant. The site is definitely worth checking -- I've personally found burial information and photos it would take me a long time to find otherwise.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, November 6, 2009

Just in time for Veteran's Day - "Smart" Phone access to Veteran burial sites

Just in time for Veteran's Day, more convenient access to veteran grave sites. As announced in a recent AP article, "Want to find a veteran's grave? Get out your "smart" phone," the Department of Veterans Affairs has enhanced its Web site to make it easier to look up the grave sites of more than 6.7 million veterans on a "smart" mobile phone, such as a BlackBerry. It builds on an online service started in 2004 that helps locate the graves of veterans and eligible family members buried in national cemeteries or whose graves are marked with a government headstone. Once the site locates the cemetery, it offers users directions on how to get there.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cemeteries - not just for tombstones, anymore

They say necessity is the mother of invention. So what do you do when you visit a cemetery in which you are certain a person in buried, but you cannot find the grave? In her article, "Cemeteries - not just for tombstones, anymore," Cindy Drage suggests looking for cemetery or "interment" records. Many people are buried without headstones, for one reason or another. Finding the location of the grave is one objective, but interment records may offer a great deal more. Even when there is a headstone, this is a resource you might not want to overlook.

Labels: , ,

Friday, December 5, 2008

Wreaths Across America journey begins Sunday

The annual Wreaths Across America escort is scheduled to depart Harrington, Maine this Sunday and travel through southern Maine on its way to Arlington National Cemetery, according to an article in Kennebunkport Post.

For 16 years, Morrill Worcester, president of Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, has decorated graves at Arlington with wreaths made by volunteers. The project was known locally as the Arlington Wreath Project until 2006, when the project was taken to the national level and called Wreaths Across America. The wreaths will be escorted to Virginia by riders from the Patriot Guard.

From the Wreaths Across America web site:

We invite you to join us in 2008 at any of the wreath-laying ceremonies to be held concurrently on Saturday, December 13th, 2008 at 12:00 noon EST. Click here for a complete list of participating locations.

Labels: ,

Friday, November 21, 2008

New Orleans Interments

Death and burial rituals may differ dramatically between countries, among cultures, and among religions. New Orleans, because of its location and varied culture, has always had unique and interesting cemeteries and customs. In her article, "New Orleans Interments," Judy Rosella Edwards explores burial practices in New Orleans during the mid-1800s when disease was rampant, and offers ideas and resources for research.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It's a long, long way to Tipperary . . .

Genealogy research of the future could mean visiting cemeteries far from home. A US funeral business that specializes in launching cremated human remains into Earth's orbit has begun taking reservations for landing small capsules of ashes on the moon, announced the company's founder, as reported in an article on AFP News.

"Celestis' first general public lunar mission could occur as early as 2010 and reservations are now being taken," said Charles M. Chafer, Celestis founder and president, in an email to AFP. "We can send up to 5000 individual capsules to the lunar surface," he said.

The company hopes to install a cemetery on the lunar surface to hold cremated remains of the dead, or a smaller symbolic portion of them, which one day could be visited by relatives of the deceased, said Chafer.

It's a long way to go.

Labels: ,

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Tribute paid to first Ellis Island immigrant

A recent article in the Daily News reports the "overdue salute" to an Irish woman who was the first immigrant to pass through Ellis Island. The Queens grave site of Annie Moore has been marked with an Irish blue limestone Celtic cross. As a 17-year-old from County Cork, Ireland, Moore was given $10 in gold when she passed through Ellis Island on Jan. 1, 1892, the article said. Historians long believed that the mother of at least 10 moved West and settled in Texas, but a dedicated genealogist debunked the myth while researching a documentary. In 2006, Moore was found in an unmarked grave in the cemetery, buried with six of her children.

"She stands for the countless hundreds of thousands of Irish people who crossed the Atlantic and settled here in New York," said Niall Burgess, Irish consul general. Ellis Island was the gateway to America for more than 12 million immigrants. As many as 5,000 people a day passed through the processing center at its peak in the early 1900s.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

U. S. Veteran Burial Places

Summer is an excellent for visiting cemeteries and doing so is rewarding in so many ways, and while it's not the same as being there, thanks to the Internet, researchers can conduct cemetery research during any season right from home. In her article, "United States Veteran Burial Places," Gena Philibert-Ortega offers some tips for conducting cemetery research for U. S. soldiers and veterans, and it's not just in veteran cemeteries. The article covers burials from earlier wars in U. S. history, as well those of a more recent times.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Cemetery Research 101

Depending on where you live, a hint of spring may be in the air. The time to get outside after a long winter, especially for family history researchers who have been plotting a trip to the cemetery. In her article, "Cemetery Research 101," Karan Pittman provides tips and hints for making the most of your cemetery trip. Don't forget your camera. Above all, take a friend.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 21, 2007

Tips on obtaining burial information in the UK

If you've ever bumped into a problem locating burial information in the United Kingdom, you re not alone, according to an article by Shelley Poblete, "UK Burials: The Value of Persistence." In addition to persistence, she suggests, an "understanding of English burials can be extremely useful."

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Thousands of New Zealand headstone photos online

Good news on TVNZ, "Council puts the dead online." An online cemetery is proving a valuable tool for New Zealanders keen to trace their family history. Timaru District Council has put thousands of images on its web site after laboriously taking 35,500 photos of headstones. Council spokesman Bill Steans says the council took the photos from six cemeteries and loaded every single headstone onto their website. He says the site helps relatives find graves, whether they are local or living overseas, and is also used for paying respects. To search these records visit, Timaru District Council Online.

Labels: , ,

Monday, September 3, 2007

Florida cemetery improvies information access and accuracy

Worth noting is an article in The High Springs Herald (Florida), "Newberry documents every grave site as part of major cemetery overhaul." According to the article, Newberry's General Services Department has updated and corrected the information on thousands of burial sites at the Newberry Cemetery over the past six months. A newly constructed kiosk, donated by local business owners, shows all of the compiled information so people can locate specific grave sites. In the kiosk is a large map of the cemetery and an alphabetical listing of those laid to rest. Following the names are detailed descriptions of where their site is located. Ideally, the kiosk will be updated every month.

While the records associated with the cemetery are now organized in an impeccably neat 5-inch binder as well as a computer program, the records used to consist of a single, old binder full of mismatched papers from nearly a century of records.

I could not find on the city's web site that this specific updated information is available online, I did find a transcription for Newberry Cemetery on Rootsweb.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

GenWeekly writer releases new book, "Cemeteries of the Eastern Sierra"

Congratulations to Gena Philibert-Ortega, a regular contributor to GenWeekly, on the release this week of her first book, "Cemeteries of the Eastern Sierra," an Image of America Series.

More than 20 cemeteries and burial places are featured in Cemeteries of the Eastern Sierra. Gena Philibert-Ortega also shares the history of the county that surrounds them, through the 200 vintage images that fill the pages.

Philibert-Ortega hopes her book “will serve as a catalyst to better understanding our history and respecting those who came before us.”

"Cemeteries of the Eastern Sierra," is available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at (888)-313-2665,

Highlights of Cemeteries of the Eastern Sierra:
  • Features information on little known cemeteries in Inyo and Mono Counties
  • Includes information on the 1872 Lone Pine earthquake, which almost destroyed the town of Lone Pine
  • Describes the history of cemeteries in Bishop, Bridgeport and Big Pine
  • Shows gravestones and gives information about the meaning of the Victorian imagery on them
Arcadia Publishing is the leading publisher of local and regional history in the United States. Its mission is to make history accessible and meaningful through the publication of books on the heritage of America’s people and places. To see if a book has been done on your town, visit

Labels: ,

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Find-a-Grave announces partnership with WorldVitalRecords

In a press release yesterday, Find a Grave announced its partnership with today, bringing more than 16 million grave records free to access online at Find A Grave has grown over the past 12 years with more than 200,000 individuals contributing valuable information such as lists of cemeteries, names, photographs, and additional burial information.

Genealogy expert, Leland Meitzler, applauded the new partnership. “Cemetery records are critical for genealogy. The bottom line is that in many cases, the cemetery is the only place you will find a record of some folks. For some babies a cemetery is the only place where something was recorded that they actually lived,” Meitzler said. “Infant mortality was rampant, even . . . just a few decades ago. In my own case, I have a number of children’s death records, and the only place I found them was in the cemetery.”

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Renewal & Remembrance project slated for two historic cemeteries

According to an article in Landscape Management, plans are well under way for the upcoming “Renewal & Remembrance at Arlington National Cemetery and Historic Congressional Cemetery” on Monday, July 16, 2007, from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) welcomes the participation of companies and individuals involved in the Green Industry. Hundreds of landscape and lawn care specialists from across the nation will bring their crews to Arlington National and Historic Congressional cemeteries to spend the day mulching, caring for and cabling trees with lightening protection, pruning, liming, planting, and aerating. This gift is valued at more than $250,000 in services and work.

As noted in the article, both cemeteries have a fascinating history. While most people recognize Arlington National Cemetery, few realize how large it is and the number of well-known Americans interred there. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is one of the most visited sites at Arlington Cemetery. Historic Congressional Cemetery is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. The grounds occupy 32.5 acres in Southeast Washington, D.C., overlooking the Anacostia River. Since 1807, an estimated 60,000 interments have occurred. To learn more about the project, visit, or call the PLANET office at (800) 395-2522.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

German TV channel to focus on topics related to death

As reported on Fox News, "German Morticians Plan TV Channel Dedicated to Death," viewers could be in for a surprise the next time they break from their favorite TV shows to surf the channels. If German morticians have their way, viewers may come across what is being called a 24-hour death channel. The channel, which is set to be distributed on satellite TV and on the Internet, is to focus on the general concept of dying. Funeral ceremonies, cemeteries and obituaries will be featured, along with -- and this will be of interest to family history researchers -- information on old death rituals and eulogies. The producers say the channel is intended to help people become more familiar with death and therefore make the grieving process easier and more familiar when they actually go through it.

Labels: ,

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Don't Bleach That Tombstone! and other preservation tips

"Tombstones won’t always look new and they shouldn’t." Before heading out to the cemetery with good intentions, you may want to take a moment to think carefully about your plans to tidy up. An article in the News Examiner - Enterprise, "Don't bleach or scrub that tombstone," provides a number of tips for what NOT to do when cleaning cemetery headstones. Based recommendations from a National Park Service preservation workshop we find many of the methods commonly used to clean tombstones actually destroy the stone.

Having attended the workshop, Shirley Pettingill who oversees maintenance of Ross and Worcester cemeteries in Park Hill, Oklahoma notes, "cleaning a tombstone is a lot different than cleaning a bathroom." Using chemicals on a tombstone will ruin it. "People mean well, but they don’t realize that what they’re doing can be more harmful than helpful,” she said. Even the simple practice of "chalking" or "rubbing" will wear down the headstone.

"I learned so much at that seminar,” said Pettingill, “A lot of us just looked at each other and said, ’Oh! We’ve been so bad!” For more information on "Cleaning a Stone Grave Marker" and other topics, visit the National Center for Preservation Technology & Training web site.

Labels: ,

Friday, May 25, 2007

Memorial Day -- Locating cemetery information for veteran ancestors

While Memorial Day has come to be a day of remembering all loved ones who have passed away, its origin was a day to remember those who died in the service of their country. In her article, "Memorial Day," Gena Philibert-Ortega gives a brief background on the history of the day and provides a number of resources to help researchers find the cemetery and tombstone information veteran ancestors who died during wartime and at home.

Labels: ,

Remembering American veterans buried abroad

A very poignant article yesterday in Stars and Stripes, "Row upon row, Americans lie at Dutch cemetery," reminds us of the many fallen Americans whose graves remain abroad. According to the article, the American Battle Monuments Commission maintains 21 cemeteries in Europe and North Africa where U.S. military members killed during the two world wars are buried. At a time when modern society is taking over the land and traces of battle are harder to find, these are places where the reminders of the wars are easy to see and where it is possible to honor those who gave their lives for their countries.

The article pays tribute to those who died and those who lived but carried the wounds of battle with them to their graves, physically and emotionally. It also pays tribute to those whose missing in action. "About 78,000 Americans who went off to World War II are listed as missing. Eight thousand of them are buried in American cemeteries as unknown soldiers." Between 1945 and 1951, more than 230,000 U.S. service members killed during World War II were repatriated from cemeteries worldwide. However, many families believed it more appropriate for them to stay with comrades near the battlefields where they died. As a result, more than 93,000 men and women are buried in American cemeteries around the world.

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 24, 2007

New Book Captures Solemnity, Ceremony at Arlington Cemetery

An article on, "New Book Captures Solemnity, Ceremony at Arlington Cemetery," reviews "Where Valor Rests: Arlington National Cemetery," a new book released on May 18. The 191-page book embodies the culmination of a two-year effort by Arlington National Cemetery Commemorative Project, Inc., in conjunction with National Geographic, and Rich Clarkson and Associates.

Labels: ,

Monday, May 7, 2007

You too can survey a cemetery and presrve our past

Most genealogy researchers can relate to happening upon a cemetery survey, either online or in a genealogy society publication, and finding record of a long sought ancestor. And in our hearts we are grateful, even if we don't take time to send a written thank you, we most likely express our gratitude to others in spreading the word. In her article, "Survey a Cemetery - Preserve Our Past," Teresa Hilburn explores the subject of cemetery surveys from the individual surveyor's point of view, the efforts and rewards of doing a survey, along with some helpful tips and encouragement for those interested in undertaking a project. One of the best ways to express gratitude for an act of kindness is to pass it forward.

Labels: , ,

Monday, April 23, 2007

Cemetery symbols may provide insight to individual beliefs

Symbols on headstones often indicate something about the life of the deceased. Owing to a recent ruling, one of the more controversial symbols can now be added to those allowed on headstones in government cemeteries. An article in the International Herald Tribune, "Wiccans symbols allowed on grave markers in government cemeteries," reports the Wiccan pentacle [or pentagram] has been added to the list of emblems allowed in United States cemeteries and on government-issued headstones of fallen U.S. soldiers, according to a settlement announced Monday. A settlement between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Wiccans adds the five-pointed star to the list of "emblems of belief" allowed on VA grave markers.

Wicca is said to be a nature-based religion based on respect for the earth, nature and the cycle of the seasons, but variations of the pentacle have been used in horror movies as a sign of the devil — a usage not accepted and vehemently denied by Wiccans. The pentacle has been added to 38 symbols the VA already permits on gravestones. They include commonly recognized symbols for Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism, as well as those for smaller religions such as Sufism Reoriented, Eckiankar and the Japanese faith Seicho-No-Ie.

VA-issued headstones, markers and plaques can be used in any cemetery, whether it is a national one such as Arlington near Washington or a private burial ground.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Practical tips and hints for cemetery research

Gena Philibert-Ortega, in her article "Lessons Learned from the Cemetery," provides us with insights gained while conducting research for her book on the cemeteries in the Inyo and Mono County regions of California. The article offers practical tips and hints to help family history researchers better understand common situation to improve their success in locating ancestral graves.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Berlin's many cemeteries a popular attraction

Of interest to those who might be planning travel to Germany this summer is an article in Jurnalo, "Tourists flock to see Berlin's historical cemeteries," which provides an interesting summary on the many cemeteries in and around Berlin. As stated in the article, some Berlin cemeteries were devastated during World War II and a few in the border area during the city's post-war division were sealed by the communists and spiked with watch towers and border installations after the Wall went up in 1961. These problems apart, Berlin's collection of cemeteries currently look in remarkably good shape, having been handsomely restored, often by volunteer working groups.

"The city's cemeteries are something of a magnet for tourists nowadays," says Pohren-Hartmann. "Especially for visiting ex- Berliners who have moved abroad. They make guided tours of the more famous burial places, feeling they are reliving history when doing so," he says.

Labels: ,

Friday, March 23, 2007

New book details "Cemeteries of San Diego"

According to an article in the SDSUniverse, "Tales from the Crypt," San Diego State University anthropology professor Seth Mallios unearthed the secrets buried in San Diego's cemeteries for his new book which reveals the results of the San Diego Gravestone Project. Mallios has spent the past five years directing the San Diego Gravestone Project surveying, inventorying and analyzing all of the region's historical grave markers. The findings are detailed in Mallios' new book "Cemeteries of San Diego" which went on sale Monday, March 19, part of Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series which celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns and cities across the country.

Labels: ,

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Listen for the sound of EchoTaps Worldwide

Perhaps the most stirring of all funerals ceremonies are those performed by comrades-in-arms, paying tribute to one of their own, men and women who put their life on the line -- police, fire-fighters and, of course, the soldier. This spring an echoing bugles will be heard across the globe to enhance public awareness of Verertan services and programs. Announced in a recent press release, the Fort Snelling National Cemetery will host EchoTaps Worldwide on Saturday, May 19, 2007 - Armed Forces Day. Admission is free, open to the public, and handicapped accessible.

EchoTaps Worldwide is a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Bugles Across America to create awareness of VA programs and the availability of volunteer buglers to play Taps at the funerals of Veterans. Musicians will render Taps at 11:00 AM local time on May 19 beginning at American Battle Monuments Commission sites overseas and continuing at National Cemeteries, Arlington National Cemetery, National Park Service Cemeteries and State Veterans Cemeteries across America. More information at the Military Salute Reference Forum.

Labels: ,

Friday, February 23, 2007

Pay an online visit to Old Chapel Hill Cemetery

According to an article in the Durham Herald Sun, "Old cemetery expands online," the town of Chapel Hill has added an additional page to its web site, allowing people to learn more about the Old Chapel Hill cemetery. The site features an online tour of the cemetery, a map to locate specific interments, and links to learn more about the cemetery. The best thing for family historians, the site also includes a searchable database, noting the deceased person's last name, the person's year of death, as well as the section and lot of the grave site.

Labels: , ,

Project to photograph archive of New Zealand war-dead

An article in, "Support for war graves archive," announces a project to create a photographic archive of the graves and primary memorials of New Zealand’s war-dead has Wairoa District Council backing. The New Zealand War Graves Trust is planning the archive, reportedly the first of its kind. Forecast to take three years, the project will cover the period from the Boer War in South Africa to peacekeeping in East Timor. The trust intends to set up a website with free access to the archive and virtual tours of relevant cemeteries. The Auckland War Memorial Museum has agreed to accept the archive and host the finished website. The museum, which has a national focus on military history, hosts the "Cenotaph" database of New Zealand’s service personnel. The trust says the archive will be a world first.

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A new way to look at where people are buried and why

An article in, "The Sociology of Cemeteries," announces a talk by Helen A. Shaw, to be presented February 23. According to Shaw, the presentation has evolved over many years and takes an anthropological look at "why" people are buried where they are, which may provide leads to other information. Maybe a person has been "removed for burial" in their home town, or maybe they were buried in a veteran, fraternal organization, church or ethnic cemetery. "What you know about the cemetery in which family members are buried, can tell you a great deal about them and their social and ethnic background. People are buried in a particular cemetery for a reason. Discovering that reason will lead to a better understanding of your relatives." Ms. Shaw is a professional genealogist specializing in census research and cemetery history. The presentation will be given at 7 p.m. at the Thomaston Public Library in Thomaston, Maine.

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Wait, there's more . . .

We haven't heard the last word on techology and tombstones. An article out Wednesday in the Vancouver Province, Virtual cemeteries promise life everlasting, announced Microsoft is getting in the game. The U.S. computer giant is looking at ways for the dearly departed to store e-mail messages and biographical information for centuries. The information could be stored on tombstones or cremation urns, or in a virtual cemetery on the Internet. Microsoft is researching ways of storing the data for generations without having the storage devices break down. Instructions to access the data could come in multiple languages, even hieroglyphics.

Labels: ,

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Isle of Wight cemetery data now available

An article out today in the, Gravesite survey team presents its findings, reports the availability of new cemetery data in the UK. A survey team has gathered information at 96 cemeteries for over 11, 500 graves and counting. The information was presented this week to the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors and will be made available to the general public at the Carrollton Library and Smithfield Library for genealogy studies. No word of its being online.

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Internet-connected tombstones on sale now

A new, digital graveside technology containing the life history the dearly departed is now available to the general public. The Graveside Memory Capsule was announced in a recent press release. The "inconspicuously mounted" device can display pictures, text, audio, music, voice and video, and is immediately accessible at the grave site to anyone with a laptop computer and USB cable. It can even be downloaded on site for later viewing and sharing through CD-ROM or the Internet. The cost is $500.

Plans for a similar product called Cemetery 2.0, was discussed in a Dec. 31 article in, Tombstone technology tells story of deceased. "This is only the tip of the iceberg," predicts Bob Biggins, former head of the National Funeral Directors Association. We can say Amen to that.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Jewish War Veterans urge passing of Native American Veterans Cemetery Act

An article on the Jewish War Veterans web site, JWV Supports Native American Veterans Cemetery Act, highlights legislation that would authorize states to provide grants financed by the Department of Veterans Affairs for the development or improvement of veterans’ cemeteries on tribal land. The group is urging Congress to reconcile bills passed in the Senate and the House, in order to get the bill passed and signed by the President. "Until now tribal governments have not been eligible for grants from the VA that would allow for the development of veterans’ cemeteries on tribal land. The bill would rectify this situation."

Labels: , ,

Monday, November 20, 2006

New National Cemetery in South Carolina

There's an announcement on the U. S. Army web site about Fort Jackson being selected as the site for a new national cemetery to be established. Construction is slated to begin in fiscal 2008, with interments beginning about a year after that.

Labels: ,

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Stoner Creek/Stayton Cemetery

"Searching for buried history" published last week in the Central Kentucky News-Journal shares the story of Phyllis and Butch Johnston as they uncovered some of the tombstones from this forgotten cemetery (a rumored burial ground for a Civil War soldier) and attempted to document those interred.

Labels: ,

GenWeekly -- Delivering a Fresh Perspective for Genealogists