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The Daily Genealogist: Cemeteries in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Valerie Beaudrault

Valerie Beaudrault
Assistant Editor

Philadelphia, which is located in the southeastern corner of Pennsylvania, is the largest city in the Commonwealth.

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

John Jay Smith, a Quaker and librarian, founded Laurel Hill in 1836. This garden cemetery was not only a place for burying the city's dead, but also a place to be enjoyed by the living. It is located in the north section of Philadelphia and is divided into three sections -- the North, Central, and South portions of the cemetery. Laurel Hill was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1998. A number of prominent people are buried there, including Philadelphia's industrial magnates, forty Civil War-era generals, and six Titanic passengers.

To access the burial records search page, click the Research tab and then the Records tab at the top of the page. Click the Search link to begin. Enter a first name and/or last name in the search boxes. The basic results returned include the name of the deceased and the burial plot location information. If there is a photograph of the gravestone it will also appear. Click on the More Information/Condolences link to view dates of birth and death and any additional information. You can click the gravestone image to enlarge it. Click the Visit tab in the contents list to open a new page with a link to a map of the cemetery.

Historic Fair Hill Burial Ground, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The land on which this burial ground is located was willed to American Quakers in 1691, by Quakerism founder George Fox, for many purposes -- a meetinghouse, school, burying ground, children's playground, and a garden. The meetinghouse with a burial ground was established in 1703. The burial ground was likely in use through 1795. The land was then leased to tenant farmers. In 1817, it came under the care of Green Street Monthly Meeting. In 1842, the current Fair Hill Burial Ground was established and the first burial took place in 1843.

Click the History tab in the contents bar and choose an option from the drop-down list. You will find a brief history of the Fair Hill Burial Ground, a page with links to biographies of historical figures buried there, and databases of interment records and obituaries.

Historical Figures
The list found here includes the names of twenty-two well-known individuals buried in the cemetery. The link includes the person's name, plot location information, and birth and death dates. Many of those included in the list are prominent abolitionists.

Interment Records and Obituaries
The interment records for Fair Hill Burial Ground are housed at the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College. The database is in Microsoft Excel format. Click the link to download the file. There are more than 3,500 records in the database. The data fields include date of interment, last name, first name, cause of death, age, lot and plot information, member/non-member status, district, and remarks. The remarks field contains information such as relationship of the deceased to others, removals, undertaker, number of people in a grave (i.e. two children, spouses), and occupation.

Click on the second link to download obituaries that appeared in the Friends Intelligencer between the years 1854 and 1960. There are about 1,200 obituaries in the file, which is in PDF format. The obituaries were transcribed and compiled into a typescript, which has been digitized and uploaded to the website. Source information is included at the end of each obituary.

Posted by Jean Powers at 08/19/2013 12:11:45 PM | 

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