How to Find a Grave in Delaware for Free: Step-by-Step

Updated

If you’re looking for a grave, it can feel a bit like traveling back through time. Not only do you need to know how to find out if someone died, but you also need to know key decisions made shortly after their death. Were they buried or cremated? Was their body laid to rest close to home or farther away? With this in mind, how do you find a grave in Delaware for free?

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In the digital age, more and more aspiring genealogists have stepped forward from all walks of life. Researching family history is no longer limited to libraries and state record offices. Nowadays, this is accessible to all, sometimes without even leaving home. Better yet, many digital tools and resources make this information available online for free, no experience or membership necessary. 

Everyone deserves to uncover their family history at their own pace. If you want to know how to find a grave in Delaware for free, you’ve come to the right guide. Keep reading to learn what information you need, as well as state-specific resources to guide your search. 

What Information Will You Need Before You Try to Find a Grave in Delaware?

Before you start your search for a grave in Delaware, there is some information you should locate. This information makes it easier to find your ancestor’s grave, regardless of their time or place of death. What do you need?

  • Their full name
  • Any previous names
  • Their place of death (county)
  • Their date of death

Though you might not always know these things, it’s helpful to limit your search as much as possible. If you’re seeking a common name, for example, the location of burial could help you find what you’re looking for faster. Otherwise, you might have to explore multiple potential gravesites before you find the right one. 

Additionally, if you can find any of the following, this makes your search even easier:

  • The name of the funeral home
  • The name of the cemetery
  • Their death certificate

Though not required, these things are an expedited way to explore information online. For example, if you know the exact cemetery they’re buried at, you can search this directly to find the grave faster. Otherwise, you’ll need to explore multiple options in the specific region. However, no matter how much or little information you have, there are tools to help. 

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Delaware-Specific Resources to Help You Find a Grave

When searching for a grave, use Delaware-specific resources to narrow down your search. The more targeted you are, the faster you’ll locate the graves you’re looking for. These Delaware resources are here to help, and they’re all available for free. 

Find a Grave

First, Find a Grave has been a trusted genealogy resource for years. This tool is used to locate graves across the globe, and their Delaware page is dedicated to helping people locate loved one’s graves in Delaware. With only three Delaware county locations to choose from, this can greatly speed up your search. 

Family Search

Another tool that’s popular amongst genealogists of all experience levels is Family Search. With different resource pages for all states in the US, Family Search makes it possible to get started with ancestry no matter what you’re looking for. With cemeteries, records, and library information, Family Search always gets the job done. 

Interment

Though there are limited resources available on Interment for Delaware, it is still worth listing. Because these records date back to 1785, these are some of the oldest digital documents you can find for free online. You can also explore cemetery records by county. 

LDS Genealogy

The Church of Latter-day Saints (LDS) values genealogy and family storytelling. Through their own research initiatives, the church created LDS Genealogy to connect people from all religions with their own family stories. Not limited to LDS records, you can find records by county, city, and more specific for Delaware. 

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The Delaware Genealogical Society

Celebrating 40 years of service in the state of Delaware, the Delaware Genealogical Society is an ever-evolving online resource. With a filter to search by county and cemetery, you can explore hundreds of cemeteries from across the state. 

Department of Veterans Affairs

If you’re seeking a veteran grave, you might have more luck using a veteran tool. The US Department of Veterans Affairs has a national gravesite locator tool that is specifically for veteran burial spaces, including any cemeteries found in Delaware. 

University of Delaware Library

Lastly, libraries have long been a great source of genealogy information. This is especially true for universities that have extensive researchers to dedicate to these tasks. The University of Delaware Library has guides for all things cemeteries and cemetery records, specializing in free historical records. You can also visit the library in person if you’re a resident to access more hands-on assistance. 

Steps for Finding a Grave in Delaware for Free

Are you ready to find a grave in Delaware? While the resources above are useful, you’ll still need to know the proper steps to take. Follow this step-by-step recommendation below. Again, you don’t have to pay anything to begin this process in Delaware. 

1. Search for the name

The first step is to simply do an online search. Using Find a Grave or another relevant tool, search for the name of your ancestor. You might even just use a search engine like Google. Search their name, date of death, location, and any other information you have available. 

Where can you find this information? You can check family records, documents, and Bibles. Talking to living relatives is also a great source of information. You never know what someone else might uncover if you just ask. 

2. Contact the record office

Next, if you’re unable to locate your ancestor’s grave through an internet search, you’ll need to do additional investigation. You can call or email your local department of vital records, county records, or even libraries. These are a great source of information, especially for older documents that aren’t digitized. 

Additionally, you can call funeral homes or cemeteries that were operational at your ancestor’s time of death. These usually have records of their own that might not be online. At the very least, they can point you in the right direction.

3. Find relatives’ graves

Another option if you’re not able to find the specific grave you’re looking for is to change your perspective. By searching for graves of their relatives, you might unexpectedly stumble upon your ancestor’s grave. Even nowadays, it’s common for families to be buried in similar locations or plots. If you can find one relative’s grave, it’s easier to find others. 

4. Locate the grave plot

Next, it’s time to locate the specific grave plot. Most people don’t know how to find a grave in a cemetery, so don’t be intimidated. There is typically a grid system used to keep plots organized. You might be able to find a cemetery map online, especially if the cemetery is modern and active. 

Another option is to visit the cemetery yourself and ask a caretaker. They’re the best source of information. Headstones typically have the plot number engraved in the corner, so you can use this to lead the way to your ancestor’s grave. 

5. Plan your visit

When you’re ready, start planning your visit to your ancestor’s grave in Delaware. If you’re wondering what to leave at a grave, you have a lot of options. It’s common to bring flowers, wreaths, candles, photos, or flags. 

However, consider the rules of the specific cemetery when planning your visit. Some items might not be allowed, and you want to be considerate. At the very least, this is an opportunity to tidy the grave and make sure it’s in good condition. Always use a grave-friendly cleaner for the specific headstone material and be mindful of the cemetery rules. Lastly, practice proper grave etiquette when visiting cemeteries. 

6. Document the location

Finally, it’s a good idea to document the location of this grave. When you create a record of graves you’ve found, you help the world of ancestry expand. As more people look into their own family stories, it becomes a collaborative effort. 

Photograph the grave, note any inscriptions, and create an online memorial for your ancestor. This is especially useful if it was difficult to find any digital records. When you share details from your search, you make it easier for everyone. 

Find the Right Graves in Delaware

If you’re on the hunt for a specific grave, now is the time to begin your search. There have never been more tools at your disposal. Not to mention, the world of ancestry and genealogy research has never been so innovative and awe-inspiring. With more people seeking long-lost graves, you never know what you might find. 

When you take the time to look into old gravesites, you practice remembrance. Not only are these stories told to new generations, but you also protect legacies for those to come. Everyone deserves to be remembered. How do you honor those you love?

If you're a Delaware resident and ready to start preparing your own end-of-life planning documents, Cake has Advance Care Planning forms you can download. To help ease your planning, we have all the documents you need in one place.

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