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

Updated

If you’re seeking a grave, it’s not always clear where to start your search. While there have never been more tools available online, most people are new to the idea of genealogy research. There are many reasons to search for graves, whether you’re doing family history research or exploring famous sights. With that in mind, finding graves is different depending on the specific state. How do you find a grave in Maryland?

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Though Maryland is a smaller state, it has a large number of graveyards, many of which are historic. This can make it challenging to find a grave, especially if you’re looking for an older site. While many records have been digitized, this is a slow process. You might have to overturn a few rocks to find specifically what you’re looking for. 

If you’re trying to find a grave in Maryland, you’re in the right place. This guide shares the step-by-step process to find a grave in Maryland for free or a low cost. Luckily, it’s never been easier to start your search without ever leaving your home. 

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

Before you start your search for a grave in Maryland, make sure you have the right information. You need to know how to find out if someone died, at the very least. From there, you need key information about the deceased to speed up your search. While you only need a name to start a search, you might find duplicate or confusing records. It’s best to have:

  • Full name
  • Previous names (if applicable) 
  • Date of death
  • Place of death

If you can identify the year of death as well as the Maryland county, this goes a long way. This is especially true if you're seeking a common name. Depending on your ancestor, more information makes a world of a difference. 

Additionally, you might also want to have information such as:

  • Funeral home name
  • Cemetery name
  • Death certificate

While this information might be harder to find, it greatly reduces the time spent seeking your ancestor’s information. Luckily, it’s easy to request a death certificate in Maryland, making it easy to learn some of these extra details. 

Maryland-Specific Resources to Help You Find a Grave

The more state-specific resources you have at your fingertips, the easier it is to start your grave search. Better yet, most of these resources below are free, meaning anyone can start their online search no matter their budget. 

Find a Grave

First, it comes as no surprise that Find a Grave is on this list. This is one of the most well-known ancestry websites, and it’s specifically dedicated to helping people locate graves. At Find a Grave, you can browse by state, county, and cemetery. 

Family Search

Another resource is Family Search. This tool compiles links and resources from across the web, making it possible to find everything you’re looking for in a few seconds. With resources organized by county, year, and city, this is a great starting point. 

Baltimore City Archives

Local and state archives are also a powerful tool for finding graves in Maryland. The Baltimore City Archives includes resources going back to the 1700s. With support from the National Archives, there are so many great tools on this website that are free to Maryland residents. 

Arlington National Cemetery

Next, the Arlington National Cemetery website and app is a powerful search tool for those who have ancestors buried in this famous military cemetery. Under the jurisdiction of the US Armed Forces, this national cemetery is one of the most famous in the country. With over 600 acres of land, it’s important to know your way around with these online resources. 

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Archdioceses of Baltimore

Lastly, the Archdioceses of Baltimore is a fabulous resource for Catholic grave information. Many cemeteries across the country are religious, and this can be a great tool if you’re seeking a specific type of grave. With cemetery information through the Baltimore area, check this list if your ancestor belonged to the Catholic church.

Steps for Finding a Grave in Maryland for Free

If you’re ready to find a grave in Maryland, you don’t need any formal experience or expensive programs to get started. As you can see from the tools above, there are a lot of free or low-cost resources specifically for the state of Maryland. With those in mind, use these steps below. 

1. Locate key information

The first step is to find key information about the deceased. We shared some of these must-haves above, so do your best to find as much as possible. You can use free ancestry websites, death records, obituaries, or family records. It’s also worth talking to older loved ones to see if they have any connection to the deceased. You never know if you don’t ask. 

2. Start an online search

Next, start your online search. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Search for records by name using the resources above. It only takes a few minutes to yield a large number of results, and you never know what you might find. 

Depending on the date of the record and your loved one’s name, it might be unclear whether you’ve located the right record right away. This is why it’s important to know more information, if possible. If you come up with the right record quickly, great. Otherwise, continue to the next steps for additional help. 

3. Contact local resources

If you’re unsuccessful with your first search, you still have more steps you can take. Next, try contacting local resources like your vital records office and libraries. These departments archive records, and they can help you do a more hands-on search for free or a small fee. 

Additionally, you can contact funeral homes and cemeteries that were active during this individual’s death. These often have their own sources of records that you might not be able to access online. You might have to make a few calls, but this can be very successful. 

4. Search for family graves

Another important method is to search for graves of your ancestor’s relatives. Especially in earlier decades, it was commonplace for people to be buried close to loved ones. They would be buried on family lots, typically next to children, spouses, or parents. 

This means if you’re unable to find a specific grave, you might be able to find more information through one of their relative’s death information. For example, if you locate a spouse’s grave, this is a big hint about where their loved one might be laid to rest. 

5. Use a cemetery map

Once you’ve found the record you’re looking for, you should know where your loved one is buried. Next, you need to know how to find a grave in a cemetery. This isn’t always clear, especially if you haven’t spent much time in cemeteries. The good news is you can usually find cemetery maps for free online. 

Additionally, if you need help, the cemetery staff is a great resource. There should be signage available on-site, and there are crew members available to help you find the grave you’re seeking during business hours. 

6. Plan your visit

When you’re ready to visit the grave, plan your visit. Many people choose to clean the graves of their ancestors as a form of respect. This is a great idea, especially if the grave hasn’t been visited in a while. Just ensure that you’re using the right type of grave cleaner for the headstone and that you don’t violate any of the cemetery rules. 

Also consider what to leave at a grave. It’s common to bring flowers, photos, and wreaths. You might also bring candles or flags depending on the time of year. Again, consider the cemetery rules before planning your visit. 

7. Record the space

Last but not least, take time to record what you’ve found. You might choose to upload a photo to Find a Grave, share an online memorial, or simply keep your own private log. When you take the time to update these records, you make it easier for your own ancestors in the future to complete their own genealogical research. 

Ancestry is a collaborative process. It’s something that takes ongoing patience, research, and understanding not from any single family but from many families. By taking the time to share what you’ve uncovered, you make this more accessible to everyone. 

Find a Grave in the State of Maryland

Though small, Maryland is a vast state that has been a part of this country’s history since its earliest days. That being said, finding a grave in Maryland isn’t always easy. With the rise of the internet and genealogy research, it’s slowly becoming easier for people to find their own family history records. 

Are you seeking a grave in Maryland? Start with this guide above. Though it might take hard work, it’s also never been more accessible to find your own way back through time. When you explore old graves, you practice life’s greatest form of remembrance. 

If you're a Maryland 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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