Burial records and plot books (cemetery plans) kept by cemetery officials are especially valuable when trying to find an ancestor who could not afford a gravestone or monument. The records and books are usually held in the cemetery’s administration office or by the local council or church.
Also known as register books, these records list the deceased’s name, date of death or burial, and plot number or description.
Plot Books and Cemetery Plans
These give a diagrammatic description of a cemetery. Each grave is shown by number with the name of the person buried there. These records may have been transcribed and listed in alphabetical order. By examining the original plot book or cemetery plan, rather than relying on alphabetized transcripts, you may find relatives buried in adjoining plots.
Because of the vast distances between settlements, many people who died en route to other localities were buried where they died. These types of burials are known as lone graves. Many of these lone graves have been located, and the known information has been transcribed and collected.
Many burials were on stations, which are small settlements on large tracts of grazing land. These burials were generally limited to family members or workers at the station. Station burials were on private ground, and seldom was burial information transcribed, except in a published family or local history.
Finding These Records
Local genealogical periodicals may publish sexton’s records and transcripts of tombstone information. For information on periodicals, read the Periodicals article. When death and burial records are difficult to find, contact a local library, historical society, or historian. They may have the records you seek or can help you locate obscure family plots or relocated cemeteries. For information on archives and societies, read the Archives and Libraries and the Societies articles.
Finding Tombstones for an Ancestor
To find tombstone inscriptions or burial records, you must know where an individual was buried. Clues to burial places may be found in funeral notices, obituaries, church records, and death certificates. Individuals were usually buried in a church, community, or private cemetery near the place where they lived or died. Cemetery locations may be found on maps of the area. For information on maps, see the article about Maps.
The following Web sites should be checked for information.
- Australian Cemeteries is a gateway site to all known Australian cemeteries. Organised be state, it may provide links to contact information, online data, home pages, look-up volunteers, undertaker's data, transcript links, headstone photographs and maps, if available, for each cemetery listed. Various types of cemetery records are available on http://www.coraweb.com.au/cemetaus.htm.
- AusCem showing all known Australian cemeteries, with geolocations. They are linked to Australian State websites.
- Some transcripts can be found on the |Australia Cemeteries section of Cemetery Records Online. Check this site often.
Often, this information has been transcribed, indexed, and published and is found in manuscripts and books in libraries and archives. The Family History Library has copies of some of these books. Be aware that large cemeteries are transcribed in sections. Be sure to look to see if the transcription you are using is of the entire cemetery or just a section.
Family History Library Collection
The following is a directory of transcribed cemetery inscriptions:
- Killion, Martyn C. H., and Heather E. Garnsey, Editors. Cemeteries in Australia, a register of transcripts. 3rd ed. Sydney, N. S. W., Australia: Australasian Federation of Family History Organizations, 1994. (FHL book 994 V34m.)
The Family History Library has copies of some cemetery records, compiled or published tombstone inscriptions, and some burial records. These are listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
- AUSTRALIA, [STATE] - CEMETERIES
- AUSTRALIA, [STATE], [TOWN] - CEMETERIES
Indexes to cemetery records are listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
- AUSTRALIA - CEMETERIES - INDEXES
- AUSTRALIA - CEMETERIES - INVENTORIES, REGISTERS, CATALOGS such as Index to Known Collections of Australian Monumental Inscriptions.
- AUSTRALIA, [STATE] - CEMETERIES - INDEXES
- AUSTRALIA, [STATE], [TOWN] - CEMETERIES - INDEXES