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Cemeteries are regarded as the location where people are buried after they die. They are often known by various terms such as graveyards, burying grounds, burial grounds, burial plots, 'churchyards', and several other terms. Some of the terms are often used to define smaller cemeteries, such as those that may be adjacent to a church, hence the term 'churchyard' in a few cases for example, with smaller cemeteries, while others apply to all.
A cemetery may be operated by a municipality, or it may be operated by a church or religion, a funeral home or other private company, or a fraternal order. Depending on availability of suitable land, it may be quite small, or it may be very large. Some burial plots may contain only one or several graves, while a few very large ones may have over a million burials.
There are a number of ways to find cemeteries:
- Look in phone books or other directories for a location
- Look in atlases, gazetteers, or other maps to see if cemeteries are shown.
- Search for them on Google, which has many listed, but not all. Google Maps has a large number shown on them in English-speaking areas, coverage is incomplete in most other languages.
- Use burial databases online, such as those described below to locate not only the cemetery, but often listings or photos of headstones for those buried in them. Coverage varies from site to site, so search in more than one site.
Websites for Cemetery Research
The following websites are useful in locating many burials.
Individual Cemetery Websites
Some cemeteries will maintain a website which will often list operating hours, and some will post burial lists online on those sites. Be sure to see if the cemetery you want to find a burial has a website, often this can be found via a search engine.
Find A Grave
Find A Grave is probably the best known aggregaor site for cemetery data. Photos and other information are gathered by site visitors and users and submitted to it. They are then made searchable, and you can search for a burial globally on the site. Coverage depends on the cemetery and the interest in it. May not contain the more recent headstones in some cases.
Interment.net is a site where transcriptions of headstones are gathered and placed online. There are no photos, but you can often find listings of burials that can be nearly complete for older or very small cemeteries.
BillionGraves is a newer site that allows users to download an app for their iPhone or Android device (for Android users, the website will indicate which Android devices do NOT work with their app), then go out to a cemetery and take pictures of the headstones. The app tags the photos with the GPS location, thus it effectively maps the cemetery, which makes it easy to find the location on the web or on the smartphone app. This site is very new, so coverage is not to the level of Find A Grave or Interment.net, but thousands of headstones are photographed and uploaded every week to the site.
Names in Stone
Names in Stone is another site that uses GPS technology to map cemeteries. An additional feature is that the site partners with cemeteries to add new headstone photos to the site on a regular basis since often a cemetery is still having burials take place. There are other mapping features on the site too.