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Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) - Cemeteries

MEGIS cemetery mapping project
In early 2010, MEGIS received a $30K USGS grant to improve the quality of cemetery locations and names in the GNIS. By partnering with the Maine Old Cemetery Association (MOCA). MEGIS has received data from MOCA for 10 Maine counties: Androscoggin, Aroostook, Cumberland, Franklin, Hancock, Kennebec, Oxford, Piscataquis, Sagadahoc, and York.
Why cemeteries? As Maine has over 400 years of European settlement (starting with Popham Colony in 1607), the locations of historical cemeteries is of great interest to preserve our cultural heritage. The location of cemeteries allows:
  1. A higher-accuracy GNIS, which in return will yield a better National Map product
  2. The ability for the state to inventory a very important cultural asset
  3. Assistance to municipalities which have legal responsibilities for cemeteries
  4. The ability for genealogists to research family histories
  5. When coupled with inscriptions data, the ability to locate individuals
Want to help? We could really use volunteers to locate cemeteries in their area. In many cases we can plot the locations from directions provided, but in other cases we cannot - a person on the ground with local knowledge would be helpful. Contact Anji Auger, anji.auger(at), for more details.
What are we doing with the data? MEGIS will first use it to update the GNIS, which will then result in better USGS topographic maps. After that, we will use the data in an online viewer, Now Available. allowing the public to query cemeteries and even their "residents".

MEGIS is the authorized state entity for geographic names
The USGS maintains a database of official geographic names, known as the geographic names information system (GNIS). GNIS has an online query website, and is connected with the federal Board on Geographic Names.
In 2009, USGS signed a stewardship agreement with MEGIS, which appoints MEGIS as the state authority for geographic names, as part of a $50K grant MEGIS received to clean up GNIS locations. MEGIS actively updates the GNIS as needed and consults on BGN actions in Maine.
Want to propose or change a geographic name? The BGN has a simple web form to do so. Be sure to read the policies and procedures first.