Home Resources, Education & Links

Resources, Education & Links

This growing online library provides guidance documents, forms and other resources for use by members and volunteers to plan and conduct their research, documentation and preservation efforts.

Cemetery Research at Fairfax Library’s Virginia Room (PDF)
A guide to resources available in the Library’s Virginia Room to research Fairfax County cemeteries. Some of the listed online resources can also be accessed via the Internet outside the library.

Family Researchers: What You Can Learn Visiting a Cemetery (PDF)

Guides for Cemetery Cleanup and Preservation Work

Gone But Not Forgotten: FCCPA Cemetery Preservation Guide
Color edition – larger file – 4.5 MB (PDF)
Greyscale edition – smaller file – 1.6 MB (PDF)
Guidelines for Cleaning a Marker (PDF)
Guidelines for Taking Photos of Gravestones (PDF)
Aluminum Foil and Hydrocal: An Alternative for Cemetery Monument Rubbings – a technique for reading an unreadable monument (PDF)

Gravestone cleanings should be done with just plain tap water and soft brushes; use no cleaning agents unless under the direct supervision of a certified preservationist. (Do not use well water since it may contain minerals and other contaminants that can stain the gravestone.) The purpose of cleaning a gravestone is not to just improve the clarity of any inscription but to remove or reduce the biological growth, pollution and other contaminants that accelerate the erosion of the stone. Too abrasive or frequent cleanings, however, can be more destructive than the contaminants themselves. Under no circumstances should any form of power tool be used directly on the stone. As a general rule of thumb, gravestones are better off with the least amount of physical contact as possible.

(A GENERAL CONCERN ABOUT THE USE OF GRAVESTONE RUBBINGS: As a general rule of thumb, gravestones are better off with the least amount of physical contact as possible. Regarding the use of gravestone rubbings, please note this practice has been regulated or banned in some states and in many cemeteries (particularly in historic graveyards) due to the damage it can cause to the stone. Because older gravestones are an important part of our national heritage, you should be as careful with them as you are when handling anything of historical significance. Rubbings themselves are generally discouraged unless authorized by the gravestone owner. Use of a foil rubbing technique can be less injurious to the gravestone if expertly conducted. Inexperienced people should not do gravestone rubbings or foil impressions without the instruction of someone with extensive experience in the technique and knowledge of the specific type of stone (some are much softer or brittle than others). Do not touch any gravestone that looks delicate, unstable, or disaggregated. Older gravestones have a lot going on in their interior that can’t always be seen from the outside. Even if it looks stable, putting pressure on the face of the stone to get an impression rubbing could be disastrous if the interior has become soft or delaminated. The gravestone may have deteriorated causing instability. Some gravestones can weigh several hundreds of pounds and can cause serious injury if it falls over as well as severely damage to the gravestone itself.)

Tips for Photographing Gravestones: Documenting Without Damage

Adopt a Cemetery (PDF)

Learn from the professionals on how to clean grave stones
Cemetery Conservators For United Standards

Guides for Conducting Cemetery Surveys

Guidelines for Cemetery Surveys (PDF)
Cemetery Survey Short Form (PDF)
Abbreviations for Mapping a Cemetery (PDF)


Virginia Burial Law
Code of Virginia (1950) (PDF)
Virginia Department of Historical Research
Visiting a Private Cemetery (PDF)

Fairfax County

Cemetery Survey
History Commission
Fairfax Circuit Court and Records
Fairfax County Cemetery Advice (PDF)

Educational Resources

College of Arts and Sciences University of Mary Washington Department of Historic Preservation

Cemetery Preservation Organizations

Gravestone Preservation
Cleaning and Preserving Gravestones
Association for Gravestone Studies
The Tombstone Transcription Project, USGenWeb: Fairfax County, VA
Removing Graffiti from Historic Masonry

Records from the National Archives, Washington DC, Record Group 92 – 8W2A – Box 8, Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General

List of Exhumation and Removals to Arlington National Cemetery from DC, Fairfax County – 10 MB (PDF)

Located on the scanned ledger pages is information concerning over 800 Union soldiers, who had been buried in Fairfax County and were removed and reburied in Arlington National Cemetery after the Civil War. Unfortunately, many of the men are unknown.

Whenever possible, the records include:

“Name, Rank, Company, Regiment,
From Whence Removed and When,
Date and Cause of Death, Age,
Interment at Arlington Cemetery” (burial location)

Starting in 1865, Edmund B. Whitman of the US Quartermaster Corps inspected battlefields and cemeteries, read informal records and conducted interviews in an effort to locate Union soldiers and remove them to national cemeteries. When the program ended in 1870, Chief Quartermaster Whitman and his crew had overseen the reburials of nearly 115,000 Union soldiers all over the United States. The exhumations of the Union soldiers buried in Fairfax County were under the direction of Colonel Marshall I. Ludington, Chief Quartermaster, Department of Washington.

Finding Your Loved Ones Beyond Ancestry.com

Online Resources
Researching National Archives
What family researchers can learn when visiting a cemetery?


Fairfax County Cemetery Survey On Line

Virginia Department of Historical Resources – Cemeteries

Fairfax Genealogical Society

National Archives – Genealogical Research

Find A Grave

Billion Graves

Association of Gravestone Studies – Symbols on Gravestones

Association of Gravestone Studies – Home Page

Chicora Foundation, Inc. – Cemetery Preservation

National Preservation Institute

Preservation Virginia

National Park Service Sailors and Soldiers Civil War Database

Library of Congress – Genealogical Research

From the Virginia Museum of History & Culture (formerly Virginia Historical Society)

Virginia Museum of History & Culture

Links to other online resources
The Virginia Museum of History & Culter offers a number of online resources to help with your research. Below is a list of our recommended online resources. These resources can be used in conjunction with research conducted in our library or on our online database of VHS collections.



Genealogical Research Institute of Virginia (GRIVA)

Research locations (Virginia Genealogical Society)
List of genealogical and historical societies in Virginia

Family history resources at the Library of Congress

Virginia Vital Statistics Genealogy Information

Board for Certification of Genealogists

Family Search Internet Genealogy Service
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

National Genealogical Society

RootsWeb.com Home Page

Preservation Directory – Virginia Preservation Organizations

American Civil War Research and Genealogy Database
Subscription service, free demo available