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Arlington National Cemetery

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The Arlington National Cemetery project focuses on one of the world's most famous military cemeteries, Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, United States. Our project goals are to 1) build trees for every individual buried at the cemetery and 2) provide information for people learning how to research Arlington ancestors.

About Arlington

Since its establishment on June 28, 1864, Arlington has become the final resting place for about 400,000 veterans and their immediate family members. Veterans and military casualties from each of the nation's wars are interred in the cemetery, ranging from the American Civil War through to the military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Pre-Civil War dead were reinterred after 1900.

Arlington is the final home not only to deceased American veterans, but also Canadians, Finns, Frenchmen, and more. There are also many presidents, senators, Congresspeople, and other notables buried there.

Researching Your Relatives

The most important research resource is the official Arlington gravesite locator. If your ancestor or relative is buried at Arlington, their record will be available there.

The FindAGrave collection for Arlington is probably the most comprehensive collection of grave photos from the cemetery.

The National Archives and Records Administration maintains a comprehensive guide for military research, including cemetery records.

On websites like MyHeritage, Ancestry, and Fold3, you can search for your ancestor in the Department of Veterans Affairs' BIRLS Death File. Although "BIRLS" stands for "Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem," and the indices do not normally contain burial information, the fact that they occasionally contain an Arlington reference makes them worth trying for yet another piece of documentation.

Most stones at Arlington feature symbols that are important for understanding the person's life, beliefs, and/or family origin. These symbols have become increasingly personalized over time. A D.C. walking tour company has made a good basic tutorial on common Arlington symbols to consider in your research.

If you are the direct descendant of someone who is buried at Arlington, or the collateral descendant of someone who died with no children, you might be interested in joining The Society for Descendants of the Honored at Rest in Arlington National Cemetery, otherwise known as The Arlington Society.