Oakland Cemetery Online Database Brings Past into the Present

By Heather Hubbs, Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa--More than 20,000 people are buried at Oakland Cemetary in Iowa City. Some of the gravestones date back to the 1830's. Finding a loved one used to be a daunting task, but it just got a whole lot easier.

Oakland Cemetary now has an online map and database.
All of their records are available 24/7. You can search by name, locate a burial site, and view actual copies of cemetary records. Bringing history to the 21st century.

Joan Dinnel has binder after binder filled with generations of genealogy. She's been digging into her family's past for 30 years now, and along the way has made some shocking discoveries

"I found my grandpas marriage license but it wasn't to my grandma, that was my biggest surprise," said Dinnel.

When Joan first started, her research involved tracking down paper records, scrolling through microfilm, and writing letters-some of which were never answered.

Modern technology, like the new online database at Oakland Cemetery, have made the hunt for history much easier.

"I knew my great great grandparents on my mothers side were buried there...Since these have come online found out they bought 8 lots but noone knew they had 8 lots," said Dinnel.

Who if anyone is buried in the other lots is unknown-no other graves are marked, common in the older section of the cemetery. Cemetery officials admit some records are missing or incomplete, so it's not a perfect system.

"We want people to find mistakes, my great grandfathers middle name isn't what you have it as. We welcome those, we want our records to be correct," said Russell Buffington, Oakland Cemetery Supervisor.

For Joan, the online database has given some answers while creating new questions.

"We want to find out who is buried in those 8 lots," said Dinnel.

It took Oakland Cemetary more than 7 years to scan the over 20,000 records into the database. The website is only updated every quarter, so if you are looking for information on recent burials you will still need to contact the cemetery office.
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