If you are wondering about tracing your ancestry or where to begin, several resources are available, starting with Washington, DC cemeteries near you.
Cemetery records are an excellent source for family history research. Of course, the closer the burial date to the present time, the more likely you are to get your answers. The information you have and what you are looking to find will also factor into how your search goes.
A historic cemetery that has been well maintained over time can help preserve burial records dating as far back as centuries.
A cemetery record can contain the deceased’s name(s), age, birth date and place, gender, marital status, names of parents, spouse, and other relatives. You can learn when, where, and how the deceased died, where they were buried, service(s), religion, and other affiliations that defined them, etc.
If you are lucky enough to find a photograph or engraving of your ancestor on record, you can identify them in an old photo album or family portrait. This could be an invaluable tool as you have a face with which you can associate historical documentation such as census records or military service records.
Funeral records like an obituary or death certificate will typically include the cemetery or place of interment. With some knowledge of the burial site of the person you want to find, you can take matters into your own hands and search manually. If you can find the grave, the inscription on their headstone might offer clues to go on from key dates to the marker’s design.
Another way is to consult the cemetery officials with the information you already have, such as a name or date. They can then look through archives like grave books, maps, or more extensive cemetery records, making the process more streamlined for you.
An even more convenient way, especially if you don’t have a lot to go on but name/area, might be to search online databases such as FamilySearch. With millions of indexes to draw from, you can connect and collaborate with other interested relatives to build a family tree with the information you get.
Suppose you are particular about finding the final resting place of your ancestor. In that case, you can take advantage of other resources like Find a Grave. They aim to make GPS cemetery data searchable online with burial site markers transcription across cemeteries in and outside the US.
Many of these resources are linked and non-profit. This means beyond finding your own results, you can volunteer to take photos of headstones and transcribe them to give someone else a chance.
As you go about finding your ancestors, you may also want to consider your descendants when making end-of-life decisions. Everything from a person’s final resting place to the details of their memorial or monument contributes to how they are remembered by generations to come.
At our interdenominational Washington, DC cemetery, loved ones (human and pets alike) don’t just rest, they also get to have their history preserved. Call or visit us today to book a tour, an appointment, or both.