Cemetery records, such as tombstone and sexton’s records, have value in that they may give birth and death dates, age at death, name of spouse and children, a maiden name or, occasionally, a birthplace. Tombstones may have symbols or insignias indicating military service and social or religious affiliations. It is important to look at surrounding tombstones because family members may also be buried nearby.
The Illinois Cemetery Project of the Illinois State Genealogical Society has identified hundreds of cemeteries and their exact locations in the state. This information is on their Internet site Cemetery Location Project. This is a county-by-county listing of cemetery names, their locations, and indicates if the tombstones have been abstracted. The information has also been published regularly since 1972 in the Illinois State Genealogical Society Quarterly cited in Illinois Periodicals. Headstone abstracts are not part of this project.
- Find A Grave can be searched by the name of a person, family or cemetery. Usually gives birth and death dates and often comes with a picture of the tombstone. May also give obituaries, biographical information and names of family members with links to their information in Find A Grave.
- Interment.net includes many Illinois cemetery transcripts.
- Illinois Ancestors is a fledgling, volunteer-run site providing free information about the Illinois Counties and includes an Interactive Tombstone Gallery. You can search and browse the Tombstone gallery by the Illinois County and then by each individual Cemetery. Users upload their tombstone photos for everyone to access. Included are photos of the cemeteries' entrances and grounds in most cases which can be helpful when planning a visit.
- Illinois Ancestors Tombstone Project The purpose of this website is to collect photos of headstones, along with obituaries and related portraits.
- ILGenWeb Project includes cemetery information and transcripts. Search on individual county pages.
- USGenWeb Tombstone Project in USGenWeb Archives Digital Library. This is a county-by-county list of cemeteries and the highlighted cemeteries on the web page include tombstone abstracts.
- Search the USGenWeb Archives Digital Library. This web site indexes cemetery abstracts and other items. Select the state of interest and the subject cemeteries. Type the name of the ancestor you seek in the "Query" field, and click Search. For best results, use the "Search Tips" and examples at the bottom of the web page. The computer will list any matches it finds and give you the option of viewing the full transcript.
- Illinois cemetery records on www.ancestry.com ($)
- ePodunk has a gazetteer of Illinois cemeteries.
- Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness has located lookup volunteers who are willing to photograph tombstones for many Illinois counties.
Print and Microfilm Abstracts
Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Collection
- The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) have tombstone inscriptions from Illinois cemeteries. This collection is located at the DAR Library in Washington, D.C., which also includes transcripts of Bible records, cemetery records, church records, family records, marriages, deaths, obituaries, and wills.
- The Family History Library (FHL) has a Genealogical collection of Illinois cemetery records microfilmed from the original records in the D.A.R. library in Washington D.C. The FHL collection includes 35 microfilm beginning with FHL film 848640. The volumes are generally arranged by county and many have individual indexes.
Family History Library Collection
- An important collection of unindexed tombstone abstract records is:
Cemetery Records of Illinois. 13 Volumes. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society, 1960–66. FHL book 977.3 V22g.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Family History Library (Salt Lake City, Utah.) Index to United States Cemeteries. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1988. A county-by-county list of cemeteries. FHL films 1206468–1206494. Another FHL filming is on films 1206461–1206467. Illinois is on film 1206471 or film 1206463.
- Beckstead, Gayle, and Mary Lou Kozub. Searching in Illinois: A Reference Guide to Public and Private Records. Costa Mesa, California: ISC Publications, 1984. A list of the names and addresses of cemeteries at the FHL. This is a good source for locating federal, state, county, and city or town records and resources. It also gives lists of cemeteries, libraries, and newspapers and shows addresses of genealogical and historical societies. This guide has a special emphasis for adoptees. FHL book 977.3 D27b.
- For more information on cemetery records, see United States Cemeteries.
- To find additional cemetery sources in the Family History Library Catalog, use the Place-Names Search function. For example:
- 1. Access the Family History Library Catalog
- 2. Type the word "Illinois" in the place-names search; then click, Search.
- 3. Locate the topic, Cemetery
- 4. OR, type in a county in Illinois in the place-names search; then click, Search
- 5. Locate the topic, Cemetery.
- 6. To explore each cemetery title, click on the highlighted blue title.
ILLINOIS, [Name of County]- CEMETERIES
ILLINOIS, [Name of County], [Name of Town]- CEMETERIES
Several periodicals have published inscriptions and inventories from Illinois cemeteries. These are referenced in the "Places" portion of the Periodical Source Index (PERSI), described in Illinois Periodicals.
- The Family History Library Catalog lists published records of Illinois cemeteries. Thorough "Place Searches" should include counties and towns. Some of the books referenced here may be available on Google Books and in public libraries.
- World Cat is a comprehensive library catalog covering hundreds of libraries. You can narrow searches to retrieve cemetery books for specific states and counties.