Oklahoma's 4,500 cemeteries plotted in eight-volume directory

Volunteers now working to develop name-by-name index of tombstones at each Oklahoma County cemetery site.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Published: April 11, 2012
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Every time members of the local Oklahoma Home and Community Education group think they have finished their cemetery-mapping project, somebody else comes along with a bigger idea.

One decade and three editions into the development and publication of a statewide cemetery directory, the Oklahoma County group will focus now on indexing the actual names inscribed upon each of the tombstones in Oklahoma County.

That's 74 cemeteries ranging from as small as abandoned family burial plots to the massive Fairlawn Cemetery, Oklahoma City's oldest and largest, said Freda Cunningham, project coordinator.

“We would like to see every cemetery transcribed in the state of Oklahoma, but our county is trying to set the example by doing it ourselves,” she said.

Cunningham and other volunteers with the education group's genealogy committee developed the cemetery directory over more than a decade.

What started out as a flimsy collection of cemetery information compiled and self-submitted by representatives of most the state's 77 counties turned into a professional project once the group realized they could sell the bound editions.

Transforming those loose-knit compilations into professional-quality books took several years and required the digitization of maps and photos, as well as the development of a uniform style guide for the book.

The 77-volume second edition was published in 2008, and the next year the group decided to develop a third edition, Cunningham said. Recently released and available for sale at the group's website, www.ohcegenealogy.com, the new edition is a regionalized, eight-volume set that lists each cemetery alphabetically by county.

Each insert includes a short history, a legal description and driving directions. Most also include a photo. Prices range from $35 to $175. Soft- and hardback versions are available in color and in black and white.

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