Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How to Survey a Cemetery:

1. Select a cemetery by
          • location
          • interest
          • need

(Types of Cemeteries:  Church, Commercial, Community, Family, Military, Slave)

2. Research the cemetery using:
  • Cemetery Vertical files
  • Census information
  • Historical newspapers
  • Civil War military records
  • Deeds, wills etc.
3. Complete On -Site Cemetery Survey and Survey Form

 A. Introduce yourself to owners and/or neighbors.
(Neighbors are a good source of information which can be documented at a later date)

  B. Photograph the cemetery and its surrounds including:

 • overview of the cemetery including markers, field stones and depressions
 • markers with unusual inscriptions
 • broken, leaning or fallen markers
 • any evidence of vandalism
 • unusual markers- zinc markers for example
 • markers with symbolism
 • different views of the cemetery and markers

C. Record inscription information from markers, not recorded in earlier surveys.

D. Record observations and recommendations for the cemetery.

 ● Very Overgrown
 ● Some Fallen Trees
 ● Some Trash 
 ● Style of Enclosures
 ● Do not agree with markers being moved

 4. Complete the Survey - Include all important historical information learned in research

  Provide to local historical society(s) & libraries:
      • hard and digital copies of the completed survey
      • digital copies of the photographs with descriptions/ captions

  Report any vandalism to owners, neighbors and police


1. When possible, work in pairs.
2. Wear appropriate shoes and clothing - you may be exposed to poisonous vines, insects, extremes in temperatures, and /or rough terrain.
3. Carry with you:
   *pertinent information to the cemetery -example a map of the cemetery
   *bottled water
   *yard stick or walking stick
   *small broom
   *cell phone

4. Do not try to move or repair markers without the advice of a professional.

5. If the cemetery is in need of a clean up, ask neighbors etc. for suggestions of groups who might want to conduct a clean up.

6. If cleaning a marker, use only soft brushes and distilled water.

7. Be respectful of flora and fauna.

8. Share your survey information with the local historical &/or cemetery preservation organizations.

For more information see: 
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