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Your Guide to Cemetery Research Paperback – April 22, 2002

4.8 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Slogging through graveyards armed with a camera and notepad may sound morbid, but it is high adventure to most genealogists. Indeed, according to Carmack (Organizing Your Family History Search), cemetery research provides valuable information about the dearly departed, and it can actually become a family tradition. Carmack begins her demystification of the process with a discussion of the various records created at the time of death (death certificates, funeral home records, and more) and the task of locating an ancestor's grave or cemetery. Once a burial site is established, a visit to the cemetery is in order. Carmack details the different kinds of cemeteries, grave decorations, and veterans' markers and explains the benefits of analyzing a cemetery's "community." A very helpful chapter on capturing a tombstone's information follows. Carmack covers American burial customs and the value (and pitfalls) of cemetery transcription and preservation projects. Finally, she offers ways to make cemetery visits a family affair. Examples of the artwork, epitaphs, and poetry found on tombstones are provided, as are an appendix of symbols and their meanings, a historical time line of America's epidemics and disasters, and a medical glossary. Genealogists and local historians of all stripes will find this book invaluable. Highly recommended for public and genealogy libraries. Elaine M. Kuhn, Allen Cty. P.L., Ft. Wayne,
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Carmack, a noted genealogist and an admitted cemetery addict, addresses a specialized area of genealogical research that can yield a wealth of historical and ancestral information. To locate an ancestor's final resting place, one must be thoroughly familiar with American death records. After explaining how to access and interpret coroner's records, death certificates, obituaries, wills, prayer and memorial cards, funeral home records, and mortality schedules, the author outlines the often less-than-straightforward process of locating elusive cemeteries and individual graves. Also included are a discussion of American burial customs and an analysis of cemetery artwork and epitaphs. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 263 pages
  • Publisher: Betterway Books; 1st edition (April 22, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558705899
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558705890
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Betterway Books started out publishing mostly craft and hobby guides, which led them into genealogy, and, under the editorship of Carmack herself, they have become one of the most reliable publishers of high quality methodological volumes in our field. Carmack, who is also a Certified Genealogist, has written two volumes in the "Discovering Your . . . Ancestors" series (on women and immigrants) and the very practical _Organizing Your Family Research,_ as well as a number of compiled genealogies, all of which have been well received. This new book maintains her high standard. Non-genealogists generally look askance at anyone who likes to hang around graveyards, but since that?s where the majority of our ancestors are to be found, we family researchers approach the subject differently. Carmack has had a particular interest in cemetery research for years (and has published other works on the subject), and she leads the reader expertly through the many research steps necessary for success. First, there are the records created when someone dies -- not just the death certificate and obituary, but coroner?s reports, prayer cards, funeral home records, and census mortality schedules. Then you have to figure out where the interment took place, which means understanding the records cemeteries themselves create, whether municipal, commercial, or church-connected. Once you know where to look, you have to know what to look *for* -- not just the grave marker itself but (as in all genealogical research) the context in which it exists. And that?s only the first quarter of the book! There?s a great deal more to learn regarding tombstone rubbings and photography, ethnic and regional burial customs, cemetery preservation (a growing problem in the U.S.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
YOUR GUIDE TO CEMETERY RESEARCH is a must read for all of us who take great pleasure in hanging out in cemeteries, clipboard and camera in hand. This book shares information on locating death and cemetery records that was new to me and may be new to you as well.
Beginning with "Records of Death", Sharon outlines a variety of sources for death information. Autopsy records, Family Bibles (and lots of ways to find these!), Bodies in Transit records, Burial Permits, and Coroner's Records are only a few of the topics included. In discussing death certificates, a contribution by Katherine Scott Sturdevant proves that our belief that death certificates are primary proof of the cause of death may often be wrong! (See pages 22-23.) I also learned in this chapter that rural dwellers without access to a stone carver could order a tombstone from a mail-order catalog, Sears-Roebuck being one example!
Since summer is one of our favorite cemetery visiting times, the chapter on "Searching A Cemetery" is very timely. From the necessity to take along bug repellant to ways to analyze headstones, this chapter will help you get the most from your cemetery visit. Sharon also gives safe methods for making tombstone rubbings and casts.
Very helpful chapters are included on ethnic and religious burial customs which are critical in understanding the burials you encounter. American burial customs are also covered. Appendices offer great information on gravestone art, epidemics, and medical terms.
The book is also very entertaining. Betterway Books are always well put together with lots of tips, reminders, quotations, and "this happened to me" stories. The photographs and illustrations are excellent, presenting a variety of tombstone styles and examples of records. Throughout the book, you can hear Sharon's voice, and the voices of contributors, sharing the joys and tribulations of genealogists on the hunt. This is a first class book and well worth owning.
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Format: Paperback
Let me begin by saying that I'm by no means a genealogist (not even an amateur genealogist!). In fact, I'm not even all that interested in my family's history. Rather, I'm just someone who loves snooping around cemeteries, the older and more obscure, the better. This is the first genealogy/cemetery research book I've read, so I can't really compare it to any others.

That said..."Your Guide to Cemetery Research" is a valuable tool for genealogists and graveyard enthusiasts alike. Sharon DeBartolo Carmack begins by explaining how to locate your ancestor's vital records, including death certificates, obituaries, death notices, wills and probate, prayer and memorial cards, and mortality schedules. She then illustrates how you can use this information to find out where your ancestors are buried (and also tells you how to go about locating the cemetery itself). She describes the different types of cemeteries, as well as what sort of records they may have kept. The reader will also learn how to search a cemetery for the desired grave or plot, and how to read, record, and interpret the information on and around the marker. Especially interesting is her discussion on how the aggregate information in the graveyard can give you a picture of what the community was like when your ancestors were alive.

DeBartolo Carmack provides tons of helpful, hands-on, how-to advice for use inside the graveyard. She explains how to make a rubbing or cast of the tombstone, and offers ideas for different types of crafts to get the whole family interested (reunions in cemeteries, cemetery scrapbooks, and cemetery quilts, to name but a few). Her section on photographing markers and tombstones is particularly enlightening.
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