Every day genealogists use our cemetery books, funeral home records, and death records. They sift through their family legacies, write books, study history, or just try to understand everything they can about how burials were handled in the past. This blog highlights the different types of death records available at the Champaign County Historical Archives. 

Cemetery books

Cemetery Books

One of the most popular and widely used research tools we have are the cemetery books. Cemetery books cover a variety of types of burial places. We are lucky enough to have many books of records from local pioneer burial places. Many of these have been compiled by Champaign-Urbana's Alliance Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. These lists of burial locations, names, and dates have been meticulously chronicled by the DAR as part of their historic preservation project. Once the research was completed and typed up, a copy was presented to the Archives staff for cataloging and indexing. Patrons are welcome to browse these books, make copies of the pages, and use them for their research.

We also have records created by a variety of churches and synogogues, related to their cemeteries. Some church cemeteries are very, very small and the records are old and incomplete. Another type of burial place is the family plot. The Archives has quite a few records of family plots and some of those only have one or two recognizable graves left. One noticeable difference with a family plot is that if the homestead or area has been abandoned, often the family connections are lost as well. Even records that have sparse or incomplete information can be helpful when tracking down details about your family.


Mount Hope Cemetery

Mount Hope Cemetery map

The Archives holds quite a few maps of local cemeteries. Some are included in the cemetery books and others are individual items in our map collection. Some are hand drawn, some professionally printed, and some are a mixture of both. These maps are a valuable source of information for patrons that are trying to fill in family tree dates and names. If you are interested in gravestone locations this is a great resource.


New Clements Cemetery

New Clements Cemetery map

The Archives is also home to a collection of death certificates on microfilm and in paper form. If you are a genealogist, or just interested in finding out about the death of a family member, these might be interesting to you. As a companion record to death certificates the archives also has a number of funeral home records. These records highlight valuable information for researchers. Often, funeral home records hold key information about the deceased beyond their basic vital details. Other family members are listed, as well as information about their occupation and hobbies.

Death Records Microfilm

Microfilmed death certificates

The archives staff can help you find these important records. Just give us a call or visit us today!

-Ann Panthen

Archives Assistant