There are two major types of cemetery records:
- Monumental inscriptions, including information recorded on gravestones, tombstones, and niches.
- Burial records, including grave books and the records of cemetery officials (sexton’s records), public (municipal) cemeteries, parishes, and burial grounds.
Cemetery records might give information that would not be found in the civil or parish records. They might include the name of the deceased, age, date of death or burial, birth year or date of birth, and sometimes marriage information. They might also provide clues about military service, religion, occupation, and place of residence at time of death.
The sources of cemetery records include:
- The present sexton or minister. He may have the burial registers and the records of the burial plots.
- A local library, historical society, or local historian. Any of these may have the records you need or can help you locate obscure family plots and relocated cemeteries.
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.
In general, it is better to start with sexton records than with tombstones or niches. The record kept by the sexton often has more information about the deceased person and his or her family and will also give the location of the tomb. It is usually faster than searching for the grave itself. Because relatives may be buried in adjoining plots, it’s best to examine the original record rather than to rely on alphabetized transcripts.
Most people in the cities of Peru were buried in niches. The Catholic Church had exclusive jurisdiction over burials until 1808, when the earliest civil records began. Most civil cemetery records did not begin until after the establishment of civil registration in 1857. In 1825, the practice of burying in churches and on church grounds was outlawed.
Funeral homes and mortuaries will know the cemeteries of an area. The civil registrar can also provide information on private burial grounds and cemeteries.
There are two very large cemeteries located across the street from one another in the center of Lima and managed by a joint administrative office. One of the cemeteries is Cementerio Presbítero Matías Maestro (commonly known as Presbítero Maestro) and the other is Cementerio General del El Ángel (commonly known as El Ángel). Presbítero Maestro was opened in 1808. El Ángel was opened in 1956. While the family search research outline for Peru indicates that the cemeterio office will conduct conduct a free search of their records, that is not true. They charge a fee for each person you seek. The cemetery office is located in Barrios Altos, which is a somewhat dangerous area of Lima, so if you travel to the cemetery office do not leave the immediate vicinity of the cemeteries. The cemetery office for both cemeteries is located at the entrance to Presbítero Maestro. Be advised that the cemetery office only has records of burials for the last few years. Earlier records are only available at the beneficencia office in the center of Lima. El Ángel is open to the general public, but Presbítero Maestro is only open for tours or with special permission to relatives of persons buried there.
Iquitos, Mayna, Loreto, Peru has one main cemetery, Cementerio General San Miguel Arcángel de Iquitos.
A large cemetery in Arequipa has had some headstones photographed and transcribed. You can find that data here: Cementerio Apacheta, Jose Luis Bustamente y Rivero, Arequipa BillionGraves
Another cemetery in Puno has similarly had some headstones photographed and transcribed: Cementerio Yanamayo, Puno billionGraves