Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Do you know the best way to preserve an old cemetery?  It doesn't require lawn mowers and scrub brushes, tracing paper, or epoxy glue.  In fact some of those materials may actually damage an old cemetery if not properly used.  All it takes is a hand held GPS device, a camera and a Florida Master Site File (FMSF) form. 

Knowledge is the best source of protection for old cemeteries.  Many old cemeteries become abandoned, overgrown and lost to time.  When you know about or have found an old cemetery, the best thing to do is download and print out a Historical Cemetery Form from the Florida Master Site File web site (   Return to the site, write down the GPS coordinates, take at least one general view photograph and record any information you can uncover from your visit. Noting the cemetery location on a USGS Quad map is a required attachment. This is the minimum necessary to record a cemetery on the Florida Master Site File. Knowledge is protection! When development is planned and permits are pulled, a listing on the FMSF may allow that old cemetery to be protected.

If you want to provide more than the basic information needed to record an old cemetery, there is a great guide published by the FMSF staff, to help you.   The "Guide to the Historical Cemetery Form" Version 4.0 dated June 2011 can be downloaded from the same FMSF web site listed above.  It provides line by line instructions on filling out the Historical Cemetery Form.  It also provides several very helpful appendices including doing field work and research on cemeteries, a glossary of terms, the photo policy, and suggested readings and references.

Sometimes it is difficult to obtain a copy of the correct USGS Quad map on which to mark your cemetery location.  This is a required attachment and for consistency's sake it must be on a USGS map.  There is a web site that can help you identify the correct quad map for your location:  However if you reside in Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns, or Volusia Counties within the FPAN - Northeast Regional Center, you can contact either Toni Wallace at or Sarah Miller at and we can provide you with a copy of the correct quad map for your cemetery location.

The last item of importance in recording your cemetery is to determine if it has already been recorded on the FMSF.  Why is this so imporant?  If it is a new submission, you must first obtain a FMSF number from the FMSF staff at the State Division of Historic Resources.  Again, Toni Wallace or Sarah Miller can assist you or you can go directly to the FMSF staff at the State. To obtain a new number for an original submission, you should download a Number Assignment Request Form from the FMSF web site listed above and submit it to the FMSF staff by e-mail ( or snail mail (FMSF, 500 S. Bronough St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-0250).  And remember, even if your cemetery has already been listed and has a number, you can always add new information to the file.  For example, if there has been vandalism, you can photograph and document this and add it to your cemetery's listing.

Good luck with your work to preserve and protect Florida's historic cemeteries.  We at the FPAN - NE Regional Center are always there to help. 

We have scheduled a series of Cemetery Resource Protection Training (CRPT) workshops in our region open to the public.  The next one will be held in the Flagler County Government Services Building in Bunnell on January 31, 2012.  Contact Amber Weiss at for more information.

One Response so far.

  1. Mary Jane says:

    What serendipity! Found while looking for information on the Florida Master Site File.

    FPAN of Northeast Florida rocks!
    Mary Jane

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