Ancestry Blog » Collections The official blog of Ancestry Sat, 25 Oct 2014 13:00:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Titanic Captain among those listed as more than one million historic Liverpool crew lists are digitised by Ancestry Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:20:06 +0000 Brian Gallagher Read more]]> We are all familiar with the ill-fated maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic. On the night of the 14th of April 1912, 1,500 people lost their lives after the liner hit an iceberg and sank to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. The captain on that tragic voyage was Edward Smith. Smith joined the White Star Line shipping company in 1880 and quickly became one of its most respected captains. He was regularly trusted to guide the largest new vessels in the fleet.

Edward Smith can be found in The Liverpool, England, Crew Lists 1861-1919 collection on Ancestry. The collection features the names of crew members who worked on vessels registered to the Port of Liverpool. In the crew lists, Edward Smith is mentioned in 1901 as captain of the SS Majestic, when he and his crew were called upon to transport troops to Cape Colony to fight in the Boer War. Following this, he was awarded a special Transport Medal for his service.

However warning signs of the later tragedy soon surfaced. In 1911, Smith was captaining the RMS Olympic when he collided with the British warship HMS Hawke. The vessel had to be returned to port with a badly damaged propeller.

The Liverpool, England, Crew Lists 1861-1919 collection has been published from original records held by the Liverpool Record Office. The records were a form of employment contract between the shipping company and crew, and needed to be completed before any vessel set sail. The collection, which refers to a total of 912 ships and spans nearly 50 years, lists each crew member’s name, age, birthplace, residence and past maritime experience, and even remarks on their general behaviour. There are also details regarding whether crew members were discharges, deserted or died at sea.

The history of Liverpool is intrinsically linked to the development of its port throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, with its natural harbour helping the city become a powerhouse of the industrial revolution and a key transport hub for travel to the promising shores of America and Australia. The port also contributed greatly to the diversity found within the city, with Liverpool rapidly developing a uniquely Irish character. Around 300,000 migrants arrived in the city from Ireland in 1847 alone and within five years a quarter of the city’s population were Irish-born.

Miriam Silverman, Senior UK Content Manager from Ancestry comments, “From ship captains to their crew, this collection sheds light on a period in which the port of Liverpool was a global transport hub. With more than a million maritime records now available online at Ancestry, it will also be of huge significance for anybody looking to trace their seafaring ancestors back to Liverpool at this time.”

Search The Liverpool, England, Crew Lists 1861-1919 collection today and find your seafaring ancestors on Ancestry. This collection can be accessed here.

Follow Ancestry on Facebook and  Twitter to keep up-to-date on new collections.

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Just in Time for Labor Day – Delaware, Winterthur Museum Craftperson Files, 1600-1995 Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:26:38 +0000 Juliana Szucs Read more]]> Just in time for Labor Day, Ancestry has released a unique collection that relates directly to the occupations of those involved in various crafts, dating back to the 1600s in America - Delaware, Winterthur Museum Craftperson Files, 1600-1995.

The Winterthur Library is devoted to the study of everyday life in America and America’s craft traditions, including furniture making, silversmithing, pottery making, textile production, etc. Among their collections, which is now available on Ancestry, are 91 drawers of index cards – roughly 125,000 of them – each listing the names, working dates, places of residence, and other information about American craftspeople. Data on the cards relate to a wide range of craftspeople, including:

  • artists / painters
  • blacksmiths
  • engravers
  • fraktur artists
  • furniture makers / cabinetmakers / turners / joiners
  • gilders
  • clock- and watchmakers
  • glass workers
  • goldsmiths
  • graphic artists
  • jewelers
  • metalsmiths
  • potters
  • sculptors
  • silversmiths / silver plate workers

Information on the cards includes the names of craftspeople, occupation and working dates, birth and death dates, where they lived, what they made, notes about their professional lives, and bibliographical and source references. (Information about furniture makers and silversmiths is more complete than other occupations, and some of the cards don’t include complete information.)

So this Labor Day weekend, why not pay tribute to the labors of our ancestors and explore this one of a kind collection. What interesting occupations did your ancestors have? We’d like to hear your ancestor’s story.

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One Million World War I Heroes Forgotten by Descendants Wed, 30 Jul 2014 01:15:21 +0000 Read more]]> As we commemorate the World War I Centenary “1914 – 2014,” remember your forgotten heroes.  

  • Three in 10 descendants of World War I heroes are unaware of their military heritage
  • Many lose opportunity to learn of family link to Great War when relatives pass away
  • Ancestry makes all WWI Medal Index Cards records free-to-use to help people find lost heroes 


More than a million British soldiers* who served in World War I (“WWI” also known as “The Great War”) have since been forgotten by their descendants, according to a new genealogical study.

Our researchers mapped population growth among veterans of the Great War to quantify how many Brits today have a WWI ancestor. They then compared this figure (26.7 million) with the number of people actually aware of such heroes in their family’s past.

The results show a significant ‘ancestral knowledge gap’, with 7.5 million Britons in the dark about their family connection to the Great War.

According to the report, this equates to more than a million soldiers (1.26m) since forgotten by their descendants.1

The research also suggests why such important family knowledge has been lost. Most of those unaware of having WWI ancestors assume that they would have been told about them, when in fact many veterans never spoke to their children about their role in the conflict, wanting to put the trauma they experienced in the trenches behind them.2

In addition to those completely in the dark, many Brits have heard a rumour of a connection to WWI but don’t know the details, with most of these people reporting that their grandparents died before they could ask them about the details of their WWI war hero ancestor.3

Those ‘in the know’ about their WWI ancestry clearly see the benefit of such knowledge, with half saying they’re more grateful for what they have today and a similar number feeling humbled when they think about their ancestor’s bravery.4

To help people discover and learn more about their veteran ancestors, we are making our British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards (1914-1920) available and completely free to use until the end of 2014.An additional 10 million records will also go online to celebrate the WWI centenary.

More than 20 million WWI records are available at Also included on the site are the British Army WWI Service and Pension Records, 1914 – 1920Citations of the Distinguished Conduct Medal, 1914-1920, and we have also digitised the Commonwealth War Graves 1914-1921, which list details and images of fallen WWI soldiers’ graves.



  • Miriam Silverman, Senior Content Manager: “Many veterans never spoke about their experiences in the Great War upon returning home, so it’s understandable how so much knowledge could have been lost, especially if people missed the opportunity to speak to their older relatives before they died. The result is a widespread and tragic lack of personal knowledge of our WWI ancestry. We believe all those who served in WWI deserve remembering and want to help bridge this knowledge gap. That’s why we’ve made all of our WWI medal records universally available and completely free to use. We hope that this will allow millions of Britons to reconnect with their past and feel the pride that so many of us have for our war hero ancestors.”



*NB – This study looks at British soldiers (from England, Ireland, Wales & Scotland) serving in the British Army but does not include those serving from the wider Commonwealth nations or Indian Army (that made up approximately three million additional serving troops).

The research was carried out using two methods:


  • A population projection model, used to show how many people today are directly related to a British WWI soldier. The model mapped the population from 1918 to today accounting for levels of migration and emigration to show the natural population growth from the native 1918 population. The number of surviving British veterans who got married (4.2m), their offspring and orphans of those KIA or MIA (300,000) were then mapped from 1918 to modern times, growing to a population of 26.7 million today.
  • A nationally representative poll of 2,000 Britons to tell us about the levels of modern day knowledge of our WWI hero ancestors. Sample = 2,000 UK residents, carried out online between 4-6th July 2014. This showed that 30% of people know of their British WWI hero heritage, equivalent to 19.2 million people, meaning that 7.5 million of the 26.7 million people with war hero ancestry are unaware of it (approx. 28%).


Full methodology available upon request.


  1. This is based on applying the 28% (% of all descendants of WWI heroes unaware of their heritage – 7.5m/26.7m – see above) to the 4.2m surviving veterans and the 300,000 veterans who died leaving children. 28% of 4.5m = 1.26m, approximately one million. This is an underestimate (minimum) as the population of people who know of a WWI hero in their lineage could contain overlap (where people share the same WWI ancestor), which would increase the proportion of ‘forgotten heroes’. NB – Our definition of ‘forgotten heroes’ are of those ‘forgotten’ by direct descendants, rather than completely forgotten by all, or extended non-direct descendants.
  2. Of those who know nothing of any WWI ancestry, when questioned about why, the most common response was that ‘none of my family ever told me’ (56%).
  3. Among all respondents to the poll, 13% said that they believe they have a WWI ancestor but don’t know any details. When asked why they didn’t know the details the most common answer was that ‘my grandparents died before I could ask them about details’ (60%).
  4. Of those questioned with knowledge of their WWI ancestors, 51% agreed with the statement ‘Knowing that one of my ancestors fought in WWI makes me more grateful for what I have today’ and 50% agreed with the statement ‘I’m humbled that my direct ancestor put so much at risk for his country’.
  5. Access to the records in the Medal Index Cards collection will be free until 31 December 2014 23:59 p.m. GMT.  To view these records you will need to register for free with with your name and email address. We will then send you a user name and password to access the records. After the free access period ends, you will only be able to view the records in the featured collections using an paid membership.


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Six Things to Look for in City Directories Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:29:13 +0000 Juliana Szucs Read more]]> City directories are incredible sources. In many cities, they were published annually, which can give us a lot of detail about our ancestors. Here are six things to look for in city directories.

1. Your Ancestor and Other Family Members

Sure, you’re going to look for your ancestor, but look for other family members, too. Some of them may have lived nearby, others across town. Then follow the family year-by-year to note changes in occupation, living arrangements, even deaths of a head of household. Add it all to a timeline so you can keep track of the family’s comings and goings.

2. Streets and Maps

Street names can change over time. So can house numbers. To get a real look at your ancestor’s neighborhood, look for street directories inside city directories. In some cases you may even find maps of the city or town. Street directories will typically give you cross streets, which you can use to orient you on modern day maps. This sample lists the right and left side of the street and the house number that corresponds with each intersection.

Brooklyn, New York, 1877


Mobile, Alabama 1890

You may also find a reverse directory that lists residents by address, as well as cross streets. Use these to look through the neighborhood when searching for your ancestor’s name just isn’t working. It’s also a good way to see who is living nearby.

3. Churches and Clerics

Religious records are incredibly valuable for discovering dates, places, and family relationships. For the years before states were required to keep records of births, marriages, and deaths, churches may be the only place to find that information. Use city directories to find the churches nearest to your ancestor and churches that may be affiliated with his or her ethnic background.

If you find the name of a cleric on records associated with your family, research the cleric in city directories, too. Use his address and compare it to the address of local churches to determine church affiliation. Also look to see if the directory you’re viewing has a list of churches and synagogues that includes the names of clerics.


Chicago, Illinois, 1900

4. Cemeteries

Check city directories for cemeteries near where your relatives lived. They may point you to burial locations, possibly even a family plot, where you’ll find details about more than one family member. This directory from Mobile, Alabama in 1890, gives the cemetery locations and even the name of the sexton.


Mobile, Alabama, 1890

5. Advertisements

Look at the ads carefully. You may discover more information about a family member’s business or place of business, names of photographers, banks, organizations and other details that  could appear elsewhere in your family’s history. Advertisements were a big source of revenue for directories and this Buffalo directory calls its index of advertisers the “Honor Roll.” Page numbers in the final column will take you directly to the ad.


Buffalo, New York, 1939

6. Historical Information

City directories often included histories of the area, some with images of the city, too. That same Buffalo directory from 1939 includes an Introduction that spans 21 pages with photographs of the city and its landmarks, and sections on early history and settlers, historic sites, street names, statistics, and more. There are even sections outlining the history of several ethnic groups in Buffalo (Polish, German, Italian, Irish, and Jewish). All of this can give you a little more background on your family and their home life.


Buffalo, New York, 1939

Search U.S. City Directories on

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Special Delivery: Postmasters in the Family Tree Sat, 26 Jul 2014 14:14:18 +0000 Amy Johnson Crow Read more]]> postage-stampHappy Birthday to the U.S. Postal Service! (We would have sent them a card, but we couldn’t find one for a 239th birthday.)

One great thing about having an ancestor who held a government job such as postmaster is that it creates a paper trail. A postmaster (which is the correct term for both males and females) has to be appointed to that position.  That appointment needs to be recorded somewhere.  For the period from 1832 to 1971, that “somewhere” was the Post Office Department. Those records were sent to the National Archives and Records Administration and are available in the U.S., Appointments of U.S. Postmasters, 1832-1971 collection on

Postmaster is an interesting occupation to have in the family tree. Besides being a job with records associated with it, it spans both urban and rural ancestors. (If there’s a post office, it needs a postmaster.) Also, beginning during the Civil War, there are a large number of women who were postmasters. It’s a rare glimpse into work outside the home for females of the time. It is estimated that 10 per cent of the postmasters in the U.S. at the close of the 19th century were female.

During the Civil War, the position of postmaster was a political appointment that was sometimes given to the widow of a Civil War soldier. These appointments were given both as a token of recognition of his service, but also to provide income for the widow and any children. After the war, many post offices in the former Confederate states had female postmasters due to the requirement that federal appointees not have voluntarily taken up arms against the United States. (In other words, Confederate veterans need not apply.)

Be sure the look at the image of the actual record. Some records contain notes. Also, you will be able to estimate how long a person was the postmaster by comparing their appointment date with that of the next postmaster. (The actual time in the position would have been shorter, as the appointment process itself took some time.) Keep in mind that the U.S. Post Office did not maintain the post offices in the southern states during the Civil War; therefore, there will be a gap in the postmaster appointments in those states.

You can also learn a lot by browsing by location. The records are arranged by state and then by county. If you browse through a county, you can see when post offices were discontinued or when a name changed. Browsing through Emmet County, Michigan, we see that sometime after 4 June 1877, the Little Traverse post office was renamed Harbor Springs and that the Mossville post office was discontinued 4 March 1878.

emmet-county-postmasters Other Resources:


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New Sources for Black Sheep, Part 2: California Prison Records Fri, 11 Jul 2014 18:02:37 +0000 Amy Johnson Crow Read more]]> Dick Fellows photograph, Folsom State prison, 1882. From California, Prison and Correctional Records, 1851-1950 collection.

Dick Fellows photograph, Folsom State prison, 1882. From California, Prison and Correctional Records, 1851-1950 collection.

Richard Perkins was born in Kentucky around 1845. As a young man, he answered the call of the West and headed to California to seek his fortune. Things didn’t go as he had planned, so he decided to take the alias of “Dick Fellows” and supplement his income by robbing stagecoaches.

In 1870, he was convicted of robbery and being an accessory to murder. He was sentenced to eight years and was sent to San Quentin State Prison on 31 January 1870. He was paroled after four years.

After being released, he tried various pursuits, but never with much luck and he returned to robbing stagecoaches. Unfortunate for him, his luck at highway robbery wasn’t much better than his luck in lawful work. Dick Fellows has been described as “California’s most unsuccessful highwayman.” In one attempt on a Wells Fargo wagon, he was bucked from his horse and knocked unconscious. A later attempt at a different wagon was marginally more successful. He got the treasure box… but had forgotten to pack the tools to open it. Thrown from his horse (do you see a pattern here?), he tried to lug the box all the way back to town. He broke his leg, stole another horse, and was later captured when investigators tracked the stolen horse. Fellows was tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison. He was sent to Folsom State Prison in April 1882. (He was pardoned and released in 1908.)

The new collection California, Prison and Correctional Records, 1851-1950, has records about Dick Fellows and his cellmates in Folsom and San Quentin state prisons, along with the California School for Girls, the Ventura School for Girls, and the Whittier State School.

In addition to the photographs in the collection, many of the registers have physical descriptions of the inmate along with biographical information. The records of the California and Ventura girls schools often name a parent or guardian.

As you go through the California prison records, be sure to follow all of the records for an individual. Records from different times of being incarcerated can have different information. For example, Dick Fellows’ physical description is much more detailed in his admission at San Quentin than it was at Folsom.

Looking for troublemaking ancestors who stayed back East? Read about our new collection of New York prison records.



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New Sources for Black Sheep, Part 1: New York Prison Records Tue, 08 Jul 2014 23:54:55 +0000 Amy Johnson Crow Read more]]> “If you can’t get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you’d best teach it to dance.” Those words by George Bernard Shaw are a good reminder to those with black sheep in the family. (And who doesn’t have one or two of those?) Records created about the ne’er-do-wells of the family can be rich in clues. Once you get over the shock and surprise of finding a criminal relative, you might be amazed at what you can uncover.

New York has some of the most historic and famous prisons in the United States. We recently launched four new collections of New York prison records and in these you’ll find everything from those convicted of habitual drunkenness to convicted murderers.

The Governor’s Registers of Commitments to Prisons, 1842-1908, has registers from prisons across the state. Records include the crime that was committed and the term of the sentence. They also include the county where the person was convicted, which can lead you to court records and newspaper accounts (of both the crime and the trial).

Need some clues about names? These registers have them. Prisoners are listed with aliases, “real names,” and full names. Could those aliases have been names they borrowed from people they knew?


John Reilly (alias), John Burke (real name), and John Sullivan. James Stephenson (indicted), James R. Warren (alias), and James Sully. Six names, two men.

Prisoners Received at Newgate State Prison, 1797-1810, documents the earliest state prison in New York. It was originally designed to be a model prison to reform those who had been convicted of serious crimes (aside from murder and arson). Prisoners from New York City were literally sent “up the river” to Newgate. (Yes, that’s where the phrase comes from.) Early records in this collection include occupation and physical description. Later records include the inmate’s previous offenses.

Discharges of Convicts, 1882-1915, applies specifically to those who were pardoned or had their sentences commuted by the governor. The registers include the name of the convict, county, crime, court, judge, date of sentencing, date received in prison, sentence, commutation earned, and discharge date. In some cases, you’ll find correspondence regarding commutations as well.

Executive Orders for Commutations, Pardons, Restorations and Respites, 1845-1931, is a good collection to use with the Discharges of Convicts. The governor could restore the citizenship rights of convicted felons. The Executive Orders show the governors’ orders restoring those rights.

Later this week, we’ll highlight some other new prison records on Stay tuned!

Blackwell's Island Penitentiary. Image from Library of Congress Photo Collection, 1840-2000.

Blackwell’s Island Penitentiary. Image from Library of Congress Photo Collection, 1840-2000.

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Historic Victorian Atlas Published Online Fri, 20 Jun 2014 18:07:16 +0000 Read more]]>  

Newly digitised, navigable atlas collection details 500 years of British history:   

  • Victorian atlas reveals the shifting shape of Britain’s landscape over the last 500 years
  • Collection of 57 maps shows England’s lost counties such as Westmorland and Huntingdonshire 
  • Parish borders reminiscent of time when people associated more with their church than town hall

A historic atlas of Great Britain has today been published online for the first time, offering a unique view of England, Scotland and Wales over the last 500 years.

Digitised by, the Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers, contains 57 separate county maps, which show how Britain’s ancient parish and county boundaries have changed shape over the centuries.  Navigable online, the Atlas lets users scroll over whole counties and zoom in and out to identify local parish towns and churches.

The maps, digitised from original documents held by the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies give an insight into how England’s historical county maps remained unchanged for centuries, before many of the ancient counties were split up to make more governable areas.

PhillmoreMapsAlthough it doesn’t exist as a county today, Middlesex is shown as it was in the 19th century, occupying large swathes of London such as Islington and Chelsea (and London itself is as a much smaller settlement barely more than one mile wide, recognisable only by a map marking of St. Paul’s Cathedral). The Home Counties also feature in their original form before the London Government Act 1965 saw the creation of Greater London, with Essex and Surrey’s original boundaries shown in the maps.

Other counties that appear in the atlas but no longer exist today include Westmorland (now part of Cumbria), and Huntingdonshire, which became a part of Cambridgeshire following a Government Act in 1971. Lancashire is also shown here in its original form, comprising modern day Manchester and Liverpool as well as parts of Cumbria and Cheshire. It was subsequently reorganised and downsized, losing nearly a third of its area in the process.[i]

Before Britain’s population grew over the centuries and regional administration became more sophisticated, people often identified more with their local parish when considering where they came from, but over time these parish borders changed to such an extent that it is almost impossible to determine the exact location of parishes and their records using modern maps.

The Phillimore Atlas is thus an authoritative guide to the drastic changes in Britain’s county and parish borders over the last 500 years and a valuable way of adding geographical context to family history research.

The maps were the brainchild of Cecil Humphery-Smith, a genealogist and heraldist who founded the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies, based in Canterbury, which promotes family history both through courses and its extensive library.

At, the records can be searched and browsed by county, and offer a colour-coded and easily navigable view of every area of the country. Furthermore, users searching the website’s Lancashire Parish records as well as the 1851 Censuses and Free Birth, Marriage and Death Index will find that every record in these collections links to a relevant map.

In addition, almost eight million new records have been added to the Lancashire Parish records currently available on the site.



Miriam Silverman, Senior Content Manager: “The borders of the UK parishes and counties have changed so much over the last 500 years and that really makes these maps the key to navigating the past and progressing with your family history journey.”


2 Figure gained by comparing the size of Lancashire before and after its reorganisation in 1974 in the Local Government Act. Before the Act, the 1961 Census County Report states that Lancashire’s area was 1,201,849 acres (1,877 sq. miles). Today – according to ONS’s UK Standard Area Measurement – the area of the county is 1,189 sq.miles (a 36 per cent drop)

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New Puerto Rico Records and Research Guides Mon, 09 Jun 2014 23:05:04 +0000 Amy Johnson Crow Read more]]> PuertoRicoWe’ve just launched a new collection with more than 5 million vital records from Puerto Rico.

Civil registration began in Puerto Rico in 1885, and the records can contain rich details, sometimes even mentioning several generations. For example, a birth record might list the names of the child, parents, and grandparents.

Before you start researching this collection, download “Using Vital Records in Puerto Rican Research” as it includes helpful tips and record samples with call-outs noting where to look for important information in the records. We’ve also included a glossary of important terms translated from Spanish to English.

We’ve also put together a research guide for Puerto Rico. Like all the others in our research guide series, you’ll find an overview of Puerto Rican history, important information about census and vital records availability, and links to significant collections on Plus links to resources beyond and a timeline of important events.

So start your Puerto Rican voyage of discovery by downloading our newest research guides—Puerto Rican Resources: Family History Sources for the Isle of Enchantment and Using Vital Records in Puerto Rican Research.

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Gonna Lay This Body Down: Quaker Funerals & Burials Sat, 07 Jun 2014 15:26:59 +0000 Lisa Arnold Read more]]> Have you ever seen a Quaker Burying Ground?  They are the epitome of simplicity and serenity. The stones are all small (the reason for which is described below) and non-Quaker names appear here and there. Names of slaves and Indians – not your typical church cemetery you must admit! Knowing more about Quaker burials will give us some insight.Burial1

Quakers tended to have simple funerals. A funeral, called a “memorial service,” was usually held in a meeting house. Members gathered to honor and remember the deceased. The service often began with an explanation by the Elders of what would happen during the meeting, because it was assumed that a number of mourners were not Quakers and would not know the Quaker customs. Then everyone sat in silent meditation. Some might share a memory with the congregation, but there was usually no eulogy given.

A Quaker funeral was not a somber affair but rather a celebration of the life that was lived. In honor of this fact, Quakers did not wear black as a symbol of mourning and there was no prescribed mourning period for Quakers.

Burial Grounds

Quakers were not permitted to be buried in parish cemeteries in Britain, so as meetings (congregations) were established and land was purchased, they also acquired land for burial grounds. This practice was continued when the Quakers came to the colonies. Many, if not most, meetings had their own burial grounds unless a large city was nearby, where Quakers could be buried in municipal plots.

The Philadelphia Common practices varied from one meeting to another, but there was usually a funeral committee, made up of members of the meeting who had oversight of funerals and made necessary arrangements for the burials. Historically, the deceased were buried in the “next available” lot. Some meetings allowed families to be buried adjoining lots, although this practice was not the norm.

Most Quaker meetings differed from other denominations by allowing American Indians, slaves, and individuals of reduced circumstances to be buried in their burial grounds.  But no matter who the deceased person was, Quakers did not allow public displays of wealth or position in their cemeteries. For this reason, you will not find large stones or epitaphs in a Quaker burial ground; stones were kept small and of a uniform shape and size. Per the 1717 Quaker Book of Discipline: “…. in each particular burial ground, such uniformity is preserved in respect to the materials, size, form and wording of the stones, as well as in the mode of placing them, as may effectually guard against any distinction being made in that place between the rich and the poor.”

Other Details

Here are some other details about Quaker burial grounds:

  • The earliest Quaker burial grounds were simple fields of unmarked stone, in keeping with the discipline of simplicity.
  • The Philadelphia and Ohio Yearly Meetings did not permit tombstones until the late 1800s.
  • If there were any stones, they usually only provided the names of the deceased, their age or birth year, and date of death. (Here is a guide to understanding Quaker dates.)Burial2
  • Not all individuals who were buried there are Quakers.
  • Not all Quakers were buried in Quaker burial grounds.
  • Most meetings did not keep careful records of the persons interred in their lots; they relied instead on the memories of their members to know where to dig the next lot (!)
  • Some meetings kept meticulous records of burials in plot maps. For details and maps of “Quaker Burial Grounds in Philadelphia from 1683 to Present,” visit Swarthmore College’s Philadelphia Quaker Burials.

Burial3 To learn more about Quaker funerals and burial practices, order my new book: Thee & Me: A Beginner’s Guide to Early Quaker Records. Available on Purchase as an eBook or in printed format. The printed book has dozens of illustrations and images, including a bonus chapter with a case study demonstrating step-by-step how to perform a successful search using the Quaker Collections on

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