Paying Respects: Burial Records, Cemetery Mapping Online

With family members flung far and wide as a fact of modern living, many familiar small-town customs have fallen by the wayside. Now, one such custom – visiting a relative’s gravesite on Memorial Day or other holidays and anniversaries – is making a virtual comeback.

More than a records archive
Launched in November 2008, Names in Stone is an online repository of cemetery records. But while the ability to access burial records online is nothing new, Names in Stone goes a step further by providing actual burial maps – a real boon to historians, researchers and genealogists trying to locate and document burial information.

The site’s searchable database allows online visitors to view photographs and see the precise location of a gravesite as well as the names on adjoining cemetery plots, according to David Day, president of Names in Stone. In addition, researching burial records online gives users access to information that may or may not be recorded on a headstone, such as birth or death dates and names of parents, without having to deal with the logistics and costs of traveling to the actual locations.

Accessible public information
Cemetery mapping capabilities are provided by Spatial Generations, a software product of Gateway Mapping, Inc., an Orem, Utah company. Currently, approximately 100 cemeteries across the country are included in the Names in Stone database, most of them in Utah. Users are encouraged to contribute by inviting local cemeteries to participate, using online mapping tools to add smaller cemeteries with 200 or fewer plots, and sharing photos and other relevant information with the online community. Although burial information is a matter of public record, Names in Stone adheres to a policy of obtaining authorization from individual cemeteries to publish their records

The ability of users to find burial information and locations online is welcomed by cemetery staffs, for whom it will save many hours of research. In cooperation with Teleflora, a national floral delivery service, Names in Stone even allows visitors to order flowers online for delivery to the gravesite of a family member.

“Conventional cemetery Web sites provide an alphabetical listing of burials,” says Day. “Names in Stone shows you where someone is buried.”

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