A case for Burial Records
If you are trying to trace the lineage of a particular family or are in search of details about one of your own ancestors, the first resource you would likely explore would be Cemetery Records. These can provide many little known details about your subject and perhaps even unearth a few unexpected clues.
As useful as Cemetery Records are for historical research purposes though, they may not always be easily accessible for any number of reasons. For one thing you may not know where the burial site is located. The cemetery could either be long abandoned or fallen into ruins…or the town officials may have relocated it to an unknown location.
If you do find the cemetery you are looking for, the tombstone may itself be in an advanced state of deterioration. The ravages of time can wreak havoc on even the hardiest marble tombstone, rendering their inscriptions unreadable.
In these and other similar cases, your next best resort would be to consult the Burial Records of the community in question.
As is the case with Marriage and Birth Records, Burial Records follow a procedure. The names and age of the deceased person is documented and many times the names of close relatives, particularly spouses and children or parents are recorded as well. The location of the actual death is also often noted. The recording of the cause of death is a bit less common. Most often, the reason for the deceased's passing is only documented in the case of unexpected or sudden deaths or if the remains were left unburied for a long time. Any difficulty during the burial proceedings, which may have arisen because of the person's moral or religious status, may also be mentioned in the Burial Records.
Burial Records may also register additional information relevant to the deceased's religious status upon death, such as whether he had received communion and confession as well as the sacrament of the last rites.
In many countries, the local customs dictate that a body be buried as soon as possible after death, the day after if possible. This makes Burial Records particularly reliable resources for details surrounding a person's burial. At certain times in the past though, because of concern about the spread of disease, people were often buried near their place of death, even if they were actually residents of another town or country. This may make searching for the Burial Records of a particular person more difficult. Some countries have registered unusually low instances of recorded deaths during heavy migration periods such as winter, when there are a large number of people who have left the area temporarily.
While records made of an adult person's death and subsequent burial may be well documented and thorough, records for children and particularly infants may be less informative. In many instances, if the child died before being baptised the death may not even be recorded at all. This may also be the case for foetuses that have been miscarried and subsequently died before being born.
Original Authors: Doods Pangburn
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 20/06/2008