Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Book Report: Cemetery and Gravestone Handbook

Do you try to uncover every piece of possible  information about your ancestor? Me too. That includes finding their final resting place. This book will help you to find the correct cemetery, understand the engravings on the stone, and care for and photograph that stone. 

Cemetery and Gravestone Handbook

For Genealogists & Family Historians


By Gary W. Clark

Published by




Finding Ancestors (And Others)

Visit the Cemetery

Deciphering the Gravestone

Veteran and National Cemeteries

Photographing Gravestones

Cleaning Gravestones

A Final Word



Emblems of Belief

National Cemeteries

State, Territory, Tribal Cemeteries

Overseas Veteran Cemeteries

CSA Cemeteries

Common Military Ranks

Branch of Service Abbreviations

Resources and Links 

Cemetery Documentation


I am delighted with this book I recently purchased. It is packed full of information, history & tips. Mr. Clark is clearly a gentleman who has experience with the topic he has written about.  Every chapter is full of useful information that can help you find, understand and record the gravestones you are interested in. 

The Stone might be called:

a gravestone, headstone or tombstone


The first chapter, Finding Ancestors (and Others) will walk you through the steps to get the most out of a Find A Grave search. Once you find a gravestone and the cemetery, Mr. Clark explains how to use the GPS coordinates & Google Maps & your smart phone to travel to that gravestone. The author also suggests looking at & GenealogyBank & old maps to discover your ancestor’s final resting place. This chapter, like all the others, is filled with photographs and illustrations to make understanding the text even easier.

Due to mounting casualties, on July 17, 1862, Congress empowered President Abraham Lincoln, "to purchase cemetery grounds and cause them to be securely enclosed, to be used as a national cemetery for the soldiers who shall die in the service of the country."

I could fill several blog posts with all the helpful and interesting information in this book. However, a book report should leave you wanting to learn more. Grab a copy of this book and learn why you might see a spinning wheel on a stone. Learn what time of day you should photograph a stone. Learn what the type of cross on the grave site means. 

The amateur cemetery sleuth should never try to 'fix' a gravestone that appears to be broke, cracked, leaning or toppled. Patching, adding mortar, or applying glue should only be attempted by a professional monument expert or trained restorer. 


I recommend reading this book to make your cemetery research more successful.


At the top of this blog, click on My Library for many more books that I have found useful for genealogical & historical research.












  1. Looks like a good book, especially the advice about taking care not to cause damage when cleaning and photographing stones. Thanks for this review!

  2. Great review of a book I had not previously heard of. I might need to add it to my collection, as well. Thank you.

  3. I need to see if our library has this book. They're always looking for good titles to add to their genealogical collection. Thanks for the tip.

  4. This looks like a good book, especially the tips about not harming gravestones when cleaning or trying to photograph them.


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