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   Education and Research Center
 
  The Cemetery Project

"Show me your cemeteries and I will tell you what kind of people you have." - Benjamin Franklin
 

"Show me the manner in which a nation cares for its dead, and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender mercies of its people their respect for the laws of the land and their loyalty to high deeds." - William Gladstone

The sacred grounds upon which our family members and ancestors are buried hold a plethora of information often relevant to those who seek information about those who fill their family tree. In particular, Jewish gravestones, or matzevot, can provide such valuable information as the name of the deceased, the dates of birth and death, their age at death, their Hebrew name, and the Hebrew name of the father (and occasionally the mother.) Knowing these facts can help the researcher or just the curious person discern whether someone is actually the family member or ancestor we were looking for. Burial data is just one factor that can contribute to successful genealogical research, but it is nevertheless an important one.

The Museum of Family History, in an effort to assist those who are interested in learning more about their ancestors, continues to work with due diligence to provide you with what is hoped to be valuable burial data and instruction. The Museum also attempts to provide you with the proper resources you might very well need before you visit a family gravesite.

BURIAL REGISTRY

Within a period of  three years the Museum has  partially or completely translated more than 105,000 gravestone inscriptions located in more than thirty cemeteries in the states of New York and New Jersey. These matzevot are found in nearly seven hundred landsmanshaftn and synagogue plots, and represent societies whose origins lie in more than one-hundred and seventy Eastern European shtetls, towns, and cities.

 

With the addition of burial data obtained from other sources, the Museum database now contains information for burials not only in New York and New Jersey, but also for Connecticut, Western Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. The current number of burials registered on the Museum database now exceeds 210,000.
 

SURNAMES

Web pages have been created that list unique surnames for many towns and cities (and a few non-affiliated organizations) that have society burial plots in New York and New Jersey. One example would be for the town of Sniadowo, Poland. The Sniadowo unique surnames page lists alphabetically all the unique surnames that have been found among all those interred within the combined Sniadowo-associated landsmanshaftn and synagogue burial plots located in New York and New Jersey. There are also a few web pages that aren't associated with any particular geographical location, but are associated with other organizations without any known particular affiliation to any town in Europe.
 

DIRECTORY
Two lists exist here. Information about many of the cemeteries located in the New York-New Jersey metro area is made available within this directory, e.g.  their addresses, phone numbers, website URLs, dates of establishment and approximate number of burials. Some of these cemetery websites have searchable databases which can be very useful to the researcher.  Another directory exists that display the names of Jewish cemeteries located in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Many cemeteries will take a photo of a matzeva for you for a fee or for free and mail it to you. These policies, when known, are stated within the New York-New Jersey directory.
 

MAPS

There are more than one-hundred cemetery maps included here from nearly four dozen cemeteries located in New York, New Jersey, South Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland, as well as Winnipeg and Montreal, Canada. The images are generally enlargeable and can be saved to your computer for future reference, e-mailed to a friend or relative, or printed out to be used during your next cemetery visit.
 

If anybody has any other maps like these, please indicate the cemetery name, address and phone number if possible,  scan them, and send them to the Museum of Family History at postmaster@museumoffamilyhistory.com.
 

SOCIETY GATES

An evolving exhibition is presented here that displays the many gates and posts that are located at the entrances to various society plots located in the New York and New Jersey metro area. These often bear important information for the genealogist, i.e. the name of society, the date the society was established and when the gate was erected, as well as the names of the society officers and its members.
 

STATISTICAL STUDIES

From the data collected, The Museum has done various statistical studies that might be of interest to genealogists. Such studies involve determination of name frequencies, e.g. what are the most common surnames and given names; how often, for instance, a person with the Hebrew named Moshe took on the Anglicized name Morris, Max and Murray. There is also a page on surname frequency, i.e. which surnames were the most common out of nearly 70,000 entries.
 

HOLOCAUST MEMORIALS

The Museum has photographed over one-hundred and thirty of the memorials that have been erected by various societies and families and placed within the burial plot grounds of various New York and New Jersey cemeteries. The exhibition is a display of photographs, partial listings of family members who perished in the Holocaust, and translations of heartfelt inscriptions written in Hebrew and English. There are also sister exhibitions, all of which fall under the aegis of "World Holocaust Memorials," which display what is believed to be the largest collection of online Holocaust memorial photos from Europe.

This presentation has been created for a dual purpose--not only to pay tribute to and honor our landsleit who lost their lives during this terribly tragic time, but also to evoke the memory of the once-vibrant Jewish communities that have vanished into the recesses of history, never to be seen again.
 

SEARCHING THE CEMETERY DATABASES
A number of cemeteries have made available online databases that can be used by us to search for our family members or ancestors who are buried on their grounds. The Museum explains the intricacies of these databases and attempts to facilitate your use of them.
 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Here you will find answers to questions that have been asked of the Museum during the past year with regards to its Cemetery Project, and also questions that haven't been asked but could be of interest to those who will want to visit the Cemetery Project in search of information.

A very interesting feature is called "Q & A." The Museum's  "Interview with a Cemetery Manager," is an in-depth discussion with the manager of Mount Judah Cemetery, a Jewish cemetery located in Ridgewood, Queens, New York. Some of the topics of discussion include the ins-and-outs of running a cemetery, what occurs from the time a funeral director calls the cemetery in order arrange for a funeral, to the time a funeral is concluded. Also, what kind of information on the deceased does a cemetery actually have? This interview should be of special interest and pertinence to Jewish genealogists.
 

LINKS
Useful sites if you would like more information about cemeteries and crematories in the states of New York and New Jersey:
New York State Cemetery Law Manual: Cemeteries and Crematories: Laws, Rules and Regulations of the New York State Cemetery Board.

List of Not-for-Profit Cemeteries under the Jurisdiction of the Department of State

New York Department of State Division of Cemetery FAQs

International Classification of Diseases (ICD):

If you possess a death certificate that uses a number to codify the cause of death of an individual, and you want to know what the actual cause of death was, please refer to this website. They have the codes from 1900 to the present. These codes have been revised more or less every seven to fifteen years and are now in their tenth revision. Be sure to look under the ICD table for the correct year, otherwise you will arrive at the wrong cause of death.

     banner photo: The grounds of Mount Judah Cemetery in Ridgewood, Queens, New York.
 

 



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