Project: Global Cemeteries

Categories: Global Cemeteries Project


Welcome to the Global Cemeteries Project!


About The Project

In genealogical terms, the Global Cemeteries Project is a direct descendant of the thousands of cemeteries and millions of deceased ancestors already categorized on WikiTree. Back in March of 2014, Paul Bech initiated a series of projects relating to his home country of Australia, one being the Australian Cemeteries Project. Paul's project followed the original intent of cemetery categorizations, which is to: 1) document their locations; and, 2) place the profiles of our deceased ancestors with known burial information into the properly categorized cemeteries in which they were interred. However, he immediately realized that this work could be expanded to fulfill another purpose.

WikiTree is filled with profiles for people with unknown or unconfirmed birth and death dates, and our cemeteries are filled with people who have that exact information neatly engraved on their tombstones! Put the two together and you've got the makings for an ace project! As more people have begun to show interest in this area, particularly within the United States and Canada, we now seek to expand Paul's original idea to an international level, but the purposes of this project will remain true to their roots. More so than any other resource, cemeteries are the one true “common ground” for genealogical researchers all over the world.


The mission of the Global Cemeteries Project is to make WikiTree the preferred site for genealogists and family researchers to find and share information regarding the final resting places of our ancestors.

Becoming a Cemeterist cemeteries.gif

This project is led by our five global leaders: Paul Bech (Australia and Oceania), Michele Bergin (Europe), Lianne Lavoie (Canada), and Lisa Franklin (United States). For a complete listing of current participants, see the badge report.

If you have signed the WikiTree Honor Code, been an active member of the WikiTree community for at least one month, and have an interest in researching cemeteries, you can become a Cemeterist by following the steps below:

  1. Find the project for your country (see the Project Organization section below). Contact the project leader and ask to have the Cemeterist badge added to your profile. Add your name to the list of participants on the project page. (If there isn't a project set up for your country yet, please contact one of our global project leaders.)
  2. Join our Google+ Community and introduce yourself to the group there.
  3. Add cemeteries to your list of followed tags so that you'll see all of the group's discussions in your G2G Feed.

Project Organization

Did you know that there are over 320,000 cemeteries spread throughout just the U.S. and Canada? With a project of this size and scope, the only way to effectively manage our efforts is to divide and conquer! Our global project is managed by the following four co-leaders: Paul Bech (Oceania), Michele Bergin (Europe), Lianne Lavoie (Canada), and Lisa Franklin (U.S.). We look forward to expanding into other areas of the world as we bring in new Cemeterists interested in working on those areas.

The global project is split up into smaller and smaller subprojects, meaning participants work together in small groups that work on the cemeteries in a particular region (state, province, etc.). Each subproject has a project coordinator that oversees the activity within their region. You don't have to be a WikiTree Leader to lead a subproject, because there are several of us leading the project at the top level, and you can always turn to us for support. The only requirement is that you are comfortable with the basic tasks involved, such as creating new categories. Serving as a project coordinator is a great way to further enhance your level of participation on WikiTree and may lead to an eventual nomination to the leaders group.

Current Subprojects:

What Do Cemeterists Do?

Cemeterists perform several key tasks in our effort to add tombstone information to WikiTree:

  • Of course, we photograph tombstones!
  • We create free-space pages for cemeteries, where we transcribe all the tombstones in a cemetery.
  • We create categories for cemeteries, where we categorize the profiles of the people buried there.
  • We add the tombstone photographs we take to existing WikiTree profiles, and to new profiles we create using the information on the tombstones.
  • We do further research on the people whose tombstones we discover, adding further information to their profiles and attempting to connect them to the big tree.
  • Some of us have also done research in death records and obituaries, finding people who are buried in a cemetery but who never had a tombstone or whose tombstone is no longer standing.

Each Cemeterist does not necessarily have to work on all of these things. We all have our preferred WikiTree activities. For example, if you aren't physically capable of getting out to the local cemetery to photograph it, you could assist in the creation of WikiTree profiles for people in cemeteries other Cemeterists have photographed. Every contribution helps!

What Cemeterists Do Not Do!

As outlined in WikiTree’s Honor Code, we DO NOT knowingly copy source materials that are owned or authored by someone else without citations and/or permission. As it pertains to this project, the posting of grave site and/or cemetery photos originating from outside sources such as the Find a Grave and Billion Graves websites is expressly forbidden. Any uses of such resources may result in removal from the group.

Also, we do not damage tombstones. We do not take rubbings, which can damage the stones. It is possible to clean a tombstone without damaging it, but such attempts should only be undertaken after careful research, as improper cleaning methods or supplies can damage the stones.

Cemetery Challenges

Every few months, we have a Cemetery Challenge, which is a chance to get competitive with your fellow Cemeterists and make a lot of contributions to WikiTree's cemetery coverage. Check out Project:Global Cemeteries/Challenges to see current, upcoming, and past challenges.

Categories and Free-Space Pages

To create a free-space page, go to Add -> New Thing in the menu at the top right of the screen. To demonstrate what a cemetery free-space page should look like, here are a few examples:

If you aren't familiar with creating a new category, see the Using Categories help page. The naming standards vary slightly from country to country, but generally follow a format like "Cemetery Name, City, State", where state can be replaced with province, county, etc., as is appropriate in each country. Please check with your subproject and learn its naming standards before creating new categories.


If you are interested in joining our project, here are some guidelines on how to go about it.

Basic Instructions:

  • Make your self known to the other Project Members. If it is your first cemetery ask to have a Mentor and someone in the community will guide you through all the steps. Once you have completed a cemetery you should have a good understanding of how to do the next one,
  • Photograph a cemetery (if you are new to this try and pick a small one first)
  • Transcribe the details to a spreadsheet
  • Convert the spreadsheet to a wiki table
  • Create a Free Space page for the cemetery. Please be consistent with the naming conventions used for your country or area (or ask the group for suggestions). To create a Free Space page go to the drop down menu at the top of any WikiTree page and mouse-over "Add" then select "New Thing". Name the page (try to be consistent with the naming conventions used on other cemetery pages) and save the page.
  • You can copy the layout of an existing cemetery page and customize it to your cemetery where needed. Just go to the edit tab of another cemetery and copy and paste everything but the Wiki table. Change the parts that need to be changed, then add paste the wiki table to the bottom.
  • Once the cemetery page is complete it needs to be linked to a sub-project (usually the region or country it is in). Again, it would be best to ask this Google community for advice.
  • Create WikiTree profiles for all the graves

Additional notes:

  • It is probably best to upload a smaller picture than your camera can take, I resize my images to 1024x768 pixels and save them as a .jpg at 75% quality. I find these are more than adequate for viewing fine detail and the file size is much smaller (which means faster uploading). The are free programs which can bulk change your photos.
  • GPS information is very useful as well. Many cameras already have GPS and the photos automatically have the info added. There is also an app for smartphones that can record your position at set intervals as you walk around a cemetery and this information can be added to photos later.
  • You don't have to do it all. Help for any part of the process outlined above is welcome. Maybe you just want to take the photos? Maybe you like the research which goes with adding the profiles to WikiTree. I know I do. Tell us what you like to do or are able to do to help the project.
  • The Vault is an open-access file storage and work area for members of the Global Cemeteries Project. Use this free space page to store photographs, templates, and general notes for other members of the project.

This page was last modified 14:55, 29 May 2018. This page has been accessed 16,802 times.