Hawaii Cemetery Records

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This entry was originally written by Dwight A. Radford for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the Hawaii Family History Research series.
History of Hawaii
Hawaii Vital Records
Census Records for Hawaii
Background Sources for Hawaii
Hawaii Maps
Hawaii Land Records
Hawaii Probate Records
Hawaii Court Records
Hawaii Tax Records
Hawaii Cemetery Records
Hawaii Church Records
Hawaii Military Records
Hawaii Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Hawaii Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Hawaii Immigration
Ethnic Groups of Hawaii
Hawaii County Resources
Map of Hawaii


Hawaii’s unique mixture of ethnic groups has produced many fascinating and historic cemeteries. A few unique practices need to be understood in order to fully appreciate the various types of tombstones to be found on the islands. For example, when men were “lost at sea” or “buried at sea,” tombstones were often raised as a memorial to them in Hawaii’s cemeteries. Another example is the Buddhist tombstones, which are found very close together due to the cremation practice of the culture. Chinese immigrants were often returned to China for burial. This practice and the practice of removal of the remains to be shipped to China are reflected in the sexton’s records. Many of the Chinese and Japanese tombstones follow Confucian or Buddhist customs for memorializing ancestors. The use of posthumous names and lunar death dates is very common.

The Hawaiian Historical Society (see Hawaii Archives, Libraries, and Societies for address) publishes a guide to cemetery research on the island of Oahu. Many Hawaiian cemeteries are currently being cataloged and indexed in a computer bank by the Cemetery Research Project. Some cemeteries have been transcribed in the past by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) in Hawaii. Transcripts are available through the FHL. The Hawaii GenWeb Project (see page 16) is also a resource for a growing number of tombstone transcripts.

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