10 December 2016

StLGS Cemetery Project Completed!

(The following article, acknowledging the completion of the society's cemetery project, was written by Ted Steele, one of many St. Louis Genealogical Society volunteers who worked on our cemetery project over the years.)

Throughout the nineteenth century, thousands of families came to (or passed through) St. Louis, Missouri, on their way west. Some families stayed and some were in the city for only a brief time. In either case, many of those families had one or more of their members who died and were buried there. Since 2000, the St. Louis Genealogical Society (StLGS) has had a project to transcribe and index every burial in every cemetery in St. Louis city and county. Thus began a society effort that involved StLGS volunteers photocopying cemetery records or walking cemeteries to record whatever information could be gleaned from tombstones. This project identified 444 open or historical cemeteries in St. Louis city and county. Once the data was captured, StLGS volunteers created an every-name index to each cemetery.

It wasn’t always easy. By and large, cemeteries are private businesses, so access to their records or obtaining access to walk the grounds required permission from each cemetery owner. While many owners were happy to provide this access, others required considerable encouragement to do so. A few were adamant against allowing any access to their records—or their property. One by one, however, determined society volunteers worked with these recalcitrant owners, convincing them that creating these copies and indexes would provide both off-site backup for their businesses and alphabetical indexes to their interments that would prove to be helpful to them. One by one, they agreed.

In November 2016, StLGS volunteers completed their work on the last of these cemeteries, Oak Grove, in Normandy, St. Louis County. That effort, then, culminated the society’s project to record and index all of St. Louis’s cemeteries. During the past sixteen years, StLGS volunteers have captured and indexed more than 1.5 million interments. Those indexes are now available to society members on the society’s website at www.stlgs.org/research-2/life-death/cemeteries-2/st-louis-area-cemeteries-list/.

StLGS is now working to do the same with all St. Louis area congregations. Although this work has only recently begun, StLGS already has thousands of baptism, marriage, and burial every-name indexes for selected congregations available to society members on its website at www.stlgs.org/research-2/congregations/congregation-index/.