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How to locate a burial plot

Updated July 20, 2017

Whether you are researching family history or hoping to pay respects to a lost loved one, finding a burial plot can seem like a daunting task, especially if the individual has been long-deceased. The key to success, however, is collecting as much information as possible about the person's life and death. Beyond that, it is just a matter of using the many resources that are available.

Collect information. Ask relatives and friends for as much information as possible regarding the deceased's full name, Social Security number, birth date, time and place of death, and place of burial. The more data you have, the easier your search will be.

Check listings on the Find a Grave website. You can search 56 million grave records compiled on the site by more than 500,000 volunteers. If the deceased person is listed, the cemetery in which they are buried will be, too.

Obtain a copy of the person's death certificate. A death certificate should include the name and location of the cemetery where an individual is buried. A fee is usually charged for a death certificate copy. Record keeping varies by state. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains a directory of where to find vital statistics and documents for specific locations and dates.

Search published obituaries through your local library archives or an online news archive. Obituaries list burial arrangements in addition to information about the deceased's life, death and family.

Search online death indexes and records maintained by states, counties and other organisations. You can search by name, date of death, Social Security number and other vital statistics.

Contact the cemetery. Once you locate the cemetery where you believe someone is buried, the location of an individual grave site or family burial plot can be obtained at the office.

Tip

Resources and directories vary greatly depending on the location and dates of your search. If one does not have the information you need, check another. If you suspect, but are unsure, that the burial site you seek is located in a particular cemetery, don't hesitate to check with the cemetery office to confirm it.

Warning

Obtaining a death certificate is a reliable way to obtain information on a burial site, but expect to pay a fee.

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About the Author

Maureen Cawley has covered and uncovered the real Jersey Shore and beyond since 2000. Her work appears in "On Deck Magazine," Catamaran Media newspapers, "Southern New Jersey Vacationer" and on her blog, My Here and There. Cawley received a first-place award from the New Jersey Press Association in 2007. She is a former teacher and a 1989 graduate of LaSalle University in Philadelphia.