There are two major types of cemetery records in Brazil:
- Information recorded on gravestones (tombstones), including transcripts of this information
- Information recorded in cemetery sextons’ records, municipal cemetery records, church yard records, grave books, plot books, and maps
Civil cemetery records generally begin after 1840.
In São Paulo the first cemeteries of Consolação and Santo Amaro date from 1856. Some minority churches had their own cemeteries, including:
Gamboa, an early English cemetery in Rio de Janeiro that was established in 1810.
São Francisco Xavier in Rio de Janeiro, a cemetery for other nationalities that was established in 1840.
São João Batista, a cemetery established in Rio de Janeiro in 1852 for other nationalities.
Cemitério dos Protestantes (Cemeteries of the Protestants) in São Paulo that was established in 1858.
The Lutheran cemetery in Nova Friburgo that was established in 1824.
Besides cemeteries, consult newspapers and other publications in the cities where the death occurred.
Cemetery records may give more information than parish burial registers or civil certificates of deaths, such as the birth year or date of birth and sometimes marriage information. They may also provide clues about a person’s military service, religion, occupation, place of residence at time of death, or membership in an organization such as a fraternal society.
Some of the inscriptions on gravestones and monuments (referred to as monumental inscriptions) may have been transcribed and are found in manuscripts and printed books in libraries.
Many persons could not afford permanent purchase of the grave and gravestone or monument, so after a period of time the grave was reused. Other cemetery records such as burial books, sexton records, and especially plot books can be especially helpful for identifying ancestors who were not recorded in other records, such as children who died young. Because relatives may be buried in adjoining plots, it is best to examine the original records.
To find tombstone or sexton records you need to know where an individual was buried. The person may have been buried in a church, community, or private cemetery, usually near the place where he or she lived or died. You can find clues to burial places in funeral notices, church records, and death certificates.
Funeral homes and mortuaries in the area will often have lists of cemeteries in the region. If you know the specific area where your ancestors resided, you may want to ask the local Cartório do Registro Civil (Registry of Civil Records) if any burial plots exist on private land anywhere nearby, or you may want to consult a local telephone directory.
Cemetery locations may also be found on local maps of the area. The present sexton or minister may have the burial registers and the records of the burial plots. A local library, historical society, or local historian may also help you locate obscure family plots or relocated cemeteries.
A few sextons’ records and transcripts of tombstone information have been published, including:
Dullius, Werner Mabilde. Cemitérios das Colônias Alemãs no Rio Grande do Sul (Cemeteries of German Colonies in Rio Grande do Sul). Porto Alegre: Editora Gráfica Metrópole, 1985. (FHL book 981.65 V3d)
English, Elisabeth Doby. "Cemitério Dos Campos," United Daughters of the Confederacy Magazine. Vol. XXIII, no. 9, Sept. 1960, pp. 25–27. (FHL book 973 B2ud)
Wolff, Egon. Sepulturas de Israelitas – II: Uma Pesquisa em mais de Trinta Cemitérios não Israelitas (Jewish Burials: A Search in More Than Thirty Non-Jewish Cemeteries). Rio de Janeiro: Cemitério Comunal Israelita, 1983. (FHL book 981 V3w)
Other than these few sources, the Family History Library does not have tombstone records for Brazil.
The following publication includes the listing of names in the Confederate Cemetery of Americana, São Paulo:
Oliveira, Betty Antunes de. North American Immigration to Brazil: Tombstone records of the cemetery, Santa Bárbara d’Oeste, São Paulo State, Brazil. Brasília: Gráfica do Senado Federal, 1978. (FHL 981.61/S2 V3a; film copy 1162423)