Incorporate online resources into your work, to help with identifying cemeteries or gathering information about a particular cemetery. To learn about cemeteries in a geographic area, try searching by state, county, city, or town. Search USGenWeb.com and RootsWeb.com lists.
If you have the name of a cemetery, check for a Web presence. Cemetery websites range from the minimal to the expansive. Some have a history not only of the cemetery, but of the entire area. Others are lavishly illustrated with drawings and photographs. The site for Cypress Lawn Cemetery in Colma, California, www.cypresslawn.com has brief biographies of the notables buried there, a veritable who's who of early San Francisco and northern California. Many sites include detailed maps of the cemetery, whereas others offer access to records. Maple Grove Cemetery, Wichita, Kansas, (http://maplegrovecemetery.org) answers genealogical inquiries free of charge.
There are veterans' cemeteries, state hospital cemeteries, poor farm cemeteries, and slave cemeteries. There have been burials in cemeteries on Indian reservations, military bases, and in World War II internment camps. All manner of cemeteries have Internet sites. A search for “pioneer cemeteries” quickly yields well over 11,000 leads. Using “ghost-town cemeteries” as the parameter at Google.com results in at least 32 sites.
The government helps pinpoint veterans' gravesites with its national grave locator at www.cem.va.gov. Its lists of national and state veterans' cemeteries include contact information. Background details about Arlington National Cemetery, its rituals and traditions, as well as biographies of many who rest there, can be read at http://arlingtoncemetery.net.
A particularly interesting website is www.epodunk.com. Enter a state and then the name of a community. The resulting profile of the community is replete with statistical information and numerous links, one of which is to cemeteries in the community or within a few miles. Even tiny communities, such as Essex, Illinois, with its 2003 population of 651, have their own page with the latitude and longitude. Select the cemetery link to find the area cemeteries (14 for Essex) or the county cemeteries (48 in this case). Clicking on the topographic map link takes you to a USGS quadrangle map at www.topozone.com where you can see the exact location of the cemetery.
Another useful feature of epodunk.com is its link to funeral homes. Although the listings are geared to present-day needs, such as sending flowers for a pending funeral, the lists provide addresses and phone numbers you may find useful in your search for burial records. If your ancestor was involved in politics, check The Political Graveyard www.politicalgraveyard.com. This ongoing collection includes close to 150,000 federal and state officeholders and candidates, party officials, judges, and some mayors.