Resources for Discovery

There are a few ways to find information about, and locations of, the residents of Grove Street Cemetery. One of the most direct is the Registry of Burials, which was begun in the 1990s by cemetery staff and covers interments made through 2006. While it contains 14,100 name entries, the data is incomplete and registry does not presume to include all the burials in the cemetery prior to 2006. However, the database can be sorted by any field simply by clicking on the headers NAME, DATE OF BIRTH, DATE OF DEATH, DATE OF BURIAL, or LOCATION.

The Grove Street Cemetery office maintains two sets of cards recording interments: individual burial cards (filed A-Z by name) and lot cards (filed by lot address). The staff is always happy to answer inquiries from visitors onsite or by telephone and to provide information from the cards during office. Hanging on the wall in the office is a large map, drawn by surveyor Alexander Cahn in 1932, which records the surnames of lot owners. Once you have a burial address, it can be useful to situate a lot before setting out to find it in the cemetery, particularly if you snap a cell phone photo of a particular avenue/section.

Another good and easy source for information on the residents of Grove Street Cemetery is the website Find A Grave (https://www.findagrave.com/), a crowd-sourced open-access database that was created in 1995 by Jim Tipton and is now owned by Ancestry.com. With over 13,000 entries for Grove Street, it duplicates much of what is in the Registry of Burials, but also offers information more important to genealogists, such as full life dates (derived from a variety of sources), links to graves of family members (in Grove Street and around the world), photographs and transcriptions of gravestones, biographies, and on occasion other documents such as obituaries and census records. An added benefit is that many of the memorials in Find A Grave have GPS locations attached, so you can click the link Show Map link which will locate the grave on Google Maps (for example: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/132291191/john-warner-barber). Find A Grave contains over 170 million entries, so to simplify your search be sure to enter New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut in the sixth search box (Cemetery Location). Alternately, begin on the Grove Street Cemetery page within Find A Grave (https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/1607917/grove-street-cemetery) and search from there.

One of the most accurate and valuable historical sources for finding residents of Grove Street Cemetery is the Hale Collection of Connecticut Cemetery Inscriptions, created through a state-wide survey accomplished under the supervision of Charles Roswell Hale of the Connecticut State Library. In a program funded by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) between 1934 and 1937, more than eighty men methodically copied information found on gravestones in 2,269 Connecticut cemeteries, which was then typed into lists by the heroic library secretary Mary Babin. Grove Street Cemetery was inventoried in October and November 1934, and though it’s not perfect, the 400-page avenue-by-avenue survey is an excellent means of locating specific graves, particularly those with nineteenth-century gravestones carved in marble that are now nearly unreadable, or stones that have broken or have been removed completely. While the data varies depending on what was inscribed on the stone, the surveyors generally noted a name, death date, and age at death, as well as birth dates, military service, and names of spouses, parents, and children if present. Using a Hale list, it is often possible to verify a worn gravestone with one or two clues remaining from an inscription—if it’s caught in raking light!

The original Hale inscription transcripts are kept at the History and Genealogy Reference Unit at the Connecticut State Library in Hartford, and can be accessed there (https://ctstatelibrary.org/about/hours-and-locations/csl-231/). The pages have also been scanned and are available on Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/halecemeteryinscriptions/); researchers will usually be led to the pages when researching anyone who died in Connecticut before 1937. Access to this online resource requires a paid Ancestry membership but the website can be consulted for free at most public libraries (onsite, not remotely) including the New Haven Free Public Library at 133 Elm Street (http://nhfpl.org/locations-hours/ives-main-library/).

In 1964 the State Librarian copied and deposited at the New Haven Museum a full set of Hale inscriptions for all the cemeteries located within the city of New Haven, which can be consulted at the museum’s Whitney Library, 114 Whitney Avenue (https://www.newhavenmuseum.org/visit/admission-hours-directions/), along with an alphabetically arranged name index that covers all New Haven cemeteries. The library has maps of Grove Street Cemetery, including a copy of the 1932 map hanging in the cemetery office and the 1862 map by surveyor S. W. Searle upon which the 1932 map was based. For those especially interested in the history of the cemetery, the library holds the official records of the cemetery, earlier maps (dating back to 1800), and several nineteenth-century publications by and about the cemetery.

Another valuable Grove Street Cemetery resource is a nineteenth-century publication about its eighteenth-century gravestones. Compiled in 1882 by local historian Franklin Bowditch Dexter (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/23620334/franklin-bowditch-dexter), and published by the New Haven Colony Historical Society (now the New Haven Museum), Inscriptions on Tombstones in New Haven, Erected Prior to 1800 provides an alphabetical-by-surname inventory of most of the stones that had been moved from the burial ground in the New Haven Green into Grove Street Cemetery, and their still-current locations within the cemetery. Many of the stones are no longer legible, several are fragmented, and some are now missing, making this an important record of some of the cemetery’s most fragile and historically significant monuments. Dexter’s work was scanned by Google Books and is available to readers online  (https://books.google.com/books?id=UQECAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false).  An addendum was published in 1914.