Tyler Stahle | Nov 8, 2017

5 Free Resources for Cemetery and Obituary Research

This is the second of a three-part series exploring free online genealogical resources. Read part one and part three.

Whether you’re new to the field of family history, or if you’ve been a researcher for years, you’ve probably come to value the important information gleaned from obituary records and cemetery tombstones. These resources often provide a wealth of information about an ancestor, including birth and death dates, full legal names, names of spouse or children, locations lived, and more.

Thankfully, dozens of tools exist to help researchers find obituaries and cemetery records pertaining to one’s family tree. Many of these resources can be accessed for free online. We’ve compiled a list of some of the more useful tools you can use to locate these important records.


BillionGraves is the world’s largest resource for searchable GPS cemetery data. BillionGraves, which can be accessed on a desktop and through the mobile app, is dedicated to photographing and transcribing information from gravestones in cemeteries around the world.

After downloading the app (available for both iOS and Android), users can use their phones to take pictures of headstones and upload them to the BillionGraves website. The images are then transcribed by volunteers who are eager to contribute to this growing database.

If you’re searching for an ancestors grave, BillionGraves also makes it possible to locate any imaged and indexed gravestone thanks to GPS coordinates and satellite technology.

You can also access the BillionGraves index online at FamilySearch.

Find A Grave

Similar to BillionGraves, Find A Grave is a free resource dedicated to documenting and preserving headstones from around the world. The website, powered by volunteers, provides headstone photos, biographies, and GPS information that is vital to family historians.

Becoming a Find a Grave contributor is also something to consider. You can photograph headstones in your local cemeteries, help build out the cemetery map online, create cemetery profiles, fulfill photo requests, and transcribe gravestone information. For more on becoming a contributor, click here.


Searching for gravestone information related to American political figures and families? PoliticalGraveyard.com is for you! This website has catalogued information on more than 200,000 prominent American political figures and persons. When researching this site, you’ll be led to information regarding where these people were buried, dates and locations of birth and death, offices held, organizational affiliations, and cause of death.

The Obituary Daily Times

The Obituary Daily Times is an index of published obituaries. This database is distributed freely (usually daily) via email and has about 2,500 entries each day. You can join the Obituary Daily Times email list by sending an email to GEN-OBIT-request@rootsweb.com.

The Tombstone Transcription Project

The Tombstone Transcription Project recognizes that many headstones and gravestone inscriptions are fading away due to harsh weather conditions. In an effort to preserve gravestone information, this project is geared towards organizing volunteers who work together to transcribe tombstone inscriptions and archive the information so that future generations will be able to access and understand it.

Use the website to search for tombstones by state and county.

What other resources do you use to aid your cemetery and obituary research? Tweet us @RootsTechConf to join the conversation.

This is the second of a three-part series exploring free online genealogical resources. Read part one.

Tyler Stahle

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