Doing Cemetery Research

You know you’ve been bitten by the genealogy bug when cemeteries cease to be creepy and turn into a place you can spend hours. Doing Cemetery Research will get you excited about exploring the final resting places of your ancestors and give you the knowledge you need to read tombstones, decipher plot maps and keep your research organized.

  • What a tombstone can tell you about your ancestor
  • How to best prepare for a cemetery trip
  • The best websites for cemetery research
  • What to do when you can’t locate the grave you’re searching for
  • How to keep track of your cemetery research



$39.99 ($37.99 for VIP)

Course Length:

2 Weeks

Start Date:

View upcoming course schedule for dates.

PRAISE FOR THIS CLASS“I really enjoyed this class. I learned a great deal, picked up some much needed techniques and was able to apply the lessons in some real life research. I feel like I’m a step closer to becoming a good genealogist.”


  • Researchers new to cemeteries
  • Genealogists planning a cemetery trip
  • People who are stumped by the strange symbols they find on tombstones


  • This course assumes you understand the basics principles of genealogy and have done some investigation into your family history. If you are a total beginner, consider taking the Discover Your Family Tree course before enrolling in this class.


Lesson 1: Introduction to Burial Grounds

A.    Introduction

I.    Definitions of cemetery terms

B.    About the Cemeteries

I.    Differences among cemeteries in US and internationally (is this what you meant?)
II.    Cemetery superintendents, caretakers and cemetery ledgers
III.    Plot maps and Google maps
IV.    Information and misinformation from oral family history

C.    About the Tombstones

I.    Types of burials — differences by religion
II.    What gravestones are made out of and what years they represent
III.    Memorial stones, mausoleums and monuments
IV.    Stone sizes and shapes, headstones and footstones
V.    Flag holders and fraternal/historical markers
VI.    Military markers and gravestones
VII.    Symbols, weathering and hard to decipher words

Lesson 2: Tips for Trips

A.    Getting Organized

I.    Doing online research to get prepared
II.    Good websites for cemetery research
III.    Keeping organized at home and in the cemetery

B.    Tools for Finding Cemeteries

I.    Maps, streets, GPS and information in books
II.    Parking the car, walking around and cemetery hazards

C.    Miss Manners’ Cemetery Rules

I.    Rules and regulations of the cemetery
II.    Seeking permission and cemetery behavior
III.    Respecting the dead and cemetery vandalism

D.    Getting Help

I.    Don’t go alone but who not to take

Lesson 3: Visiting the Cemetery, Sharing and Showing Off

A.    Learning from Local Cemeteries

II.    Learning without pressure by using someone else’s ancestors
III.    Or if your ancestors lie near by, take a trip

B.    Cemetery Equipment

I.    Packing a bag for the adventure
II.    Emergency items

C.    Finding the Graves

I.    The excitement of success and the agony of defeat
II.    Emotional connections and finding balance

D.    Photographing the Cemetery

I.    Digital camera tips and tricks
II.    Manipulating the images
III.    Mirrors, umbrellas and time of day
IV.    Weather

E.    Looking for Neighbors

I.    People in your family area
II.    Family plots
III.    Cemetery symbolism and family surnames
F.    File Management

I.    Archiving, storage and software
II.    Naming your images well

G.    Online Cemeteries

I.    Social networks and Photo Hosting
II.    Why you should begin with Find-a-Grave
III.    To blog or not to blog
IV.    Photos in your family tree online?

H.    Gravestone Addiction

I.    Finding out more is the only cure
II.    Sharing ideas with others
III.    Learning to bore family with your finds
IV.    Teaching others to help you

Comments are closed.