Tennessee cemetery records often identify birth, death, and relationship information. They sometimes have insignia or symbols that provide clues about military service, religion, or membership in an organization, such as a lodge. Nearby markers may help identify children who died young, or women who were not recorded in family or government documents.
The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) collection contains tombstone inscriptions from many Tennessee cemeteries. The DAR collection is described in the Tennessee Genealogy article.
Genealogical society members often copy and publish tombstone inscriptions.
- The Family History Library Catalog lists published records of Tennessee 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.
Online Gravestone Transcripts
- Find A Grave can be searched by the name of a person or family to find where a person is buried. Usually gives birth and death dates often with a picture of the tombstone. May give obituaries, names of family members and links to their information in Find A Grave.
- BillionGraves can be searched by the name of a person or by cemetery and location. The site provides photos and GPS locations of grave markers.
- Interment.net includes many Tennessee cemetery transcripts.
- TNGenWeb Cemetery Database lists cemeteries in many counties, often with indexes and burial transcripts.
- TNGenWeb Project includes cemetery information and transcripts. Search on individual county pages.
- USGenWeb Tombstone Transcription Project lists cemeteries in many Tennessee counties, along with tombstone transcripts arranged by cemetery.
- ePodunk is a gazetteer of Tennessee cemeteries.
- Find A Grave also gives a list of cemeteries in many Tennessee counties linking to the information about individuals buried there.
Published Finding Aids
A county-by-county list of cemetery record transcripts and the book and film numbers to locate them at the Family History Library as of 1988 is:
- 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. FHL film 1206468–94FHL films 1206489–90 These films contain a listing of the cemetery records in Tennessee.
Some compilations of inscriptions from graveyards throughout the state are:
- Acklen, Jeannette Tillotson. Tennessee Records: Tombstone Inscriptions and Manuscripts, Historical and Biographical. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1976. FHL book 976.8 V3ac 1976; 1933 edition is on FHL film 1000313 item 2 Each entry gives the surname, most given names, dates of birth and death, and burial location. A surname index is included.
- Cemetery Records of Tennessee. Two Volumes. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1951–62. FHL film 874007; book 976.8 V3c The record is arranged by cemeteries in a county. Each entry contains at least the surname, given name, date of birth, and date of death.
Burials in 65 Tennessee cemeteries along the old Wilderness Road are recorded in:
- Johnson, Robert Foster. Wilderness Road Cemeteries in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. Owensboro, Kentucky: McDowell Publications, 1981. FHL book 973 V3j
The Wilderness Road led from Virginia through northern Tennessee and into Kentucky. The source is arranged by state, county, then cemetery. Tennessee is listed on pages 225–264. Entries list the deceased’s name, birth date, and death date.
Two sources for locating the cemeteries and graves that were relocated during the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) project are:
- Complete Surname Index of TVA Grave Removals. Signal Mountain, Tennessee: Mountain Press, 1989. FHL book 976.8 V32c This source is currently unavailable to Family History Centers.
- Tennessee Valley Authority (Tennessee). Master File Relocation Card Index for Grave and Cemetery Removal and Relocation, 1934–1954.Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah. 1996.FHL film 2050038 These films include all states associated with the TVA project: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Records include: name of deceased, birth date, death date, age, nearest living relative or informant, informant’s address and relationship to deceased, place of removal, and place of relocation.
Periodicals often contain published inscriptions and inventories of Tennessee cemeteries.
Sexton records do not have a standard format and may vary in content. They may include the birth date, birthplace, parents’ names, name of spouse, death date and place, cemetery name, if previously buried and name of the cemetery removed from, and the date the lot was purchased.
Remember that the information is secondary and is only as reliable as the person who gave the information. These records are usually in the current sexton’s charge, but they may be in the town or county clerk’s office. They may also be in the custody of private individuals.
Funeral Home Records
Funeral home records may list the cemetery and may include an obituary; birth date; birthplace; names of parents, spouse, children, and siblings; addresses and biographies of surviving relatives; insurance company; church affiliation; and officiating clergyman. Funeral home staff know where the local cemeteries are. Telephone calls or personal visits are usually more effective than letters. See the United States Cemeteries article for a nationwide directory of funeral homes.
For related records see the Tennessee Obituaries and Tennessee Vital Records articles. For more information on cemetery records, see the United States Cemeteries article. See the Tennessee Archives and Libraries article for facilities with regional collections which might include cemetery records. The Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog lists more sources under:
TENNESSEE - CEMETERIES
TENNESSEE, [COUNTY] - CEMETERIES
TENNESSEE, [COUNTY], [TOWN] - CEMETERIES