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Historic Cemeteries Program

Find, designate, and preserve historic cemeteries!

The Oregon historic cemeteries program, created by the Oregon legislature, provides resources including grants to people and organizations caring for the cemeteries.

Any cemetery that has at least one burial of a person who died before that date that is 75 years before the current date and is listed with Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries, is historic.

Historic cemetery designation signs are available. Contact the coordinator to get one.

Historic Cemeteries can also be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Additional Resources

Legal Concerns for Historic Cemeteries

Historic Cemetery Planning Workbook

Cemetery Vandalism: Tips to Avoid and to Respond to It

Cemetery Disaster Planning Workbook, Chicora Foundation

Caution Sign – One free caution sign is available. Contact the coordinator to get one. You can also use the PDF to make your own.

Operating Cemeteries
Cemeteries that are performing burials, including cremains, are required to be licensed with the Oregon Mortuary and Cemetery Board. The board offers support for historic cemeteries to meet the requirement.

Nonprofit Incorporation
Incorporating as a nonprofit with the State of Oregon is recommended.
Secretary of State Corporation Division
To find your organization’s current status, click on Business name search on the business page.

Preservation Guides, Training, and Resources
Oregon Mortuary and Cemetery Board – Resources for cemeteries doing burials.
Cemetery Association of Oregon
Oregon Funeral Directors Association

National Park Service Preservation Briefs – Preservation guides for all resources, from vegetation to vandalism removal. 
National Park Service National Center for Preservation Technology & Training – Online videos to in-person workshops.
Chicora Foundation – Online information and services for cemetery preservation and disaster preparedness.
Association for Gravestone Studies – Cemetery history and preservation publications and conference.
Saving Graves – Endangered cemetery list and information clearing house.
SOLVE – Resources for cemetery clean-up days

Are you hoping to take care of a cemetery, but can't figure out who to ask for access? You will need to seek an owner first. Often no one owns historic cemeteries. Determine ownership by contacting the county land records office.  The County offices are in charge of maintaining records for property ownership and may have a process for acquiring the property. Then if the cemetery meets the definition of abandoned under state law, you can get a permit to work in the cemetery.


Kuri Gill
(503) 986-0685


Heritage Bulletins
Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries Position Papers