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National Cemetery Administration


History: Publications and Outreach

Learn About Essential Historic NCA Cemeteries - Two Books Available as Free Downloads

The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) History Program has released two educational products based on research completed for the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, 2011-2015. Interpretive signs on site explore local military activity, why soldiers are buried here, Medal of Honor recipients, memorials and more. While much has been written about honoring the Union dead, until now little documentation was assembled about Confederates who died as POWs and whose graves are managed by the U.S. government. Both books support the NCA Veterans Legacy Program, begun in 2014.

Interpretive Signs in VA National Cemeteries: Commemorating the Civil War Sesquicentennial, 2011-2015Interpretive Signs in VA National Cemeteries
In 2014-2015, NCA installed interpretive (or wayside) signs in VA’s oldest cemetery properties: 78 national cemeteries, 15 soldiers or government lots in private cemeteries, and 9 all-Confederate cemeteries.

Federal Stewardship of Confederate DeadNCA Federal Stewardship of Confederate Dead
Civil War-era national cemeteries were created to bury Union dead. But the U.S. government was also responsible for Confederate dead--most associated with prisoner-of-war camps. This cultural resource study examines 9 all-Confederate cemeteries and 9 national cemeteries containing the greatest number of Confederate graves. The 311-page book contains 245 illustrations (GPO 2016, ISBN 978-0-16-093255-7).



100 Years of Historic National Cemetery Burial Recordsregistry

By 2012, NCA completely digitized its original burial system: hand-written ledgers from the 1860s to 1960s. Through a partnership with, NCA's ledgers — along with others in the National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) collection — are available to subscribers and free to visitors to NARA facilities.

Note to History and Genealogy researchers: The NCA Historian Program staff is unable to undertake primary research for the public about veterans who may or may not be interred in NCA cemeteries due to the volume of these requests. Researchers should contact the National Archives & Records Administration or other offices recommended in the FAQs.


Roll of Honor: Accounting for Union Dead

Over six years (1865-70), the U.S. Army Quartermaster General issued 27 volumes of the Roll of Honor, listing the names of more than 300,000 Union soldiers buried in national and other cemeteries. An 1871 inspection report stated that national cemeteries at Corinth, Memphis, and Nashville contained thousands of unknowns:  3,762, 8,819, and 4,001, respectively. These unknown graves were originally marked with 6x6 square blocks with a grave number cut into the top surface. A large number of Union dead were also interred in trench graves at Salisbury National Cemetery, the former Salisbury Prison cemetery. Because it was not possible to identify individual burials here, the federal government erected a large obelisk monument near the trenches to honor the dead. However, the government did identify the names of soldiers who were likely buried in these four cemeteries. Click on the links below for searchable versions of the burials in these cemeteries, transcribed from Roll of Honor:


Articles by Edward Steere that appeared in The Quartermaster Review, in 1953-1954:

Early Growth of the National Cemetery System
Evolution of the National Cemetery System 1865-1880
Expansion of the National Cemetery System 1880 – 1900
National Cemeteries and Memorials in Global Conflict

American Military Cemeteries: A Comprehensive Illustrated Guide to the Hallowed Grounds of the United States, including Cemeteries Overseas, by Dean W. Holt (McFarland & Co., Jefferson, North Carolina) 2010, Second Edition.


Education Tools

Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) Lesson Plans is a component of the National Register of Historic Places, which helps develop guidance on using historic places to teach and encourages educators, historians, preservationists and others to work together effectively. Three NCA properties are the subject of TwHP lesson plans:

"A Nation Repays Its Debt: The National Soldiers' Home and Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio" (Dayton National Cemetery)
"Not to Be Forgotten: Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery"
Comfortable Camps?" Archeology of the Confederate Guard Camp at the Florence Stockade (This lesson was developed as part of mitigation associated with NCA's expansion of Florence National Cemetery.)

More Lesson Plans
Helpful Research Links


'Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary' Series

A program of the National Park Service, this series consists of travel guides to historic destinations around the country, all listed on the National Register of Historic Places. VA's oldest properties are the subject of two itineraries:

Civil War Era National Cemeteries: Honoring Those Who Served
Veterans Affairs National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers


New Gettysburg Address Tablets for National Cemeteries
to Honor Abraham Lincoln BicentennialGettysburg Address Tablet

February 2009 marked the bicentennial of President Lincoln’s birth. In 1909, to celebrate the centennial of this event, the U.S. Army placed his Gettysburg Address, cast in iron, in all national cemeteries. Over the years some tablets were removed, and the number of national cemeteries increased. This project assures that all national cemeteries contain this symbolic artifact of NCA’s origin. Learn more about the acquisition of these tablets.



NOTE: Page may contain links that will take you away from the Department of Veterans Affairs website.