Howard County has more than 200 historic cemeteries, with burials dating back as far as 1668, including that of the Ellicott brothers in 1772. These cemeteries range from small family sites with just a handful of burials, to the walled or fenced enclosures around present-day and former rural churches, to large commercial operations.
They contain everything from the crudely-carved, homemade headstones of small farmers, to the professionally-designed monuments commemorating Howard County’s founders and patriots, to the anonymous, unmarked graves of the enslaved and paupers. And they range from the well-maintained to the neglected, unkempt, and unfortunately, vandalized.
The County seeks to protect and preserve these valuable historic assets by tracking their information in an ongoing cemetery inventory and by improving their condition with outside funding and support.
Cemetery Preservation Advisory Board (CPAB)
The Cemetery Preservation Advisory Board (CPAB) promotes and strengthens cemetery preservation in the County. The Board assists in maintaining and updating a cemetery inventory, provides advice on development and subdivisions involving cemeteries, and helps make determinations regarding the discovery of previously unknown burials. View more information about the Board and about historic cemetery sites in the Historic Cemeteries Brochure.
CPAB meets bi-monthly (six times) at 10:00 am on the second Tuesday of the month. Meeting are open to the public. Please visit the Cemetery Preservation Advisory Board page for the most recent meeting information.
To learn more about the Role and Responsibilities of CPAB, see Title 16, Subtitle 13 in the Howard County Code.
Howard County maintains a Cemetery Inventory with over 200 cemeteries and burial sites located throughout the County. Properties listed on the Inventory are also eligible for the County’s historic tax credits and historic cemetery restoration grants.
To search the cemetery database, click here. Click on the green "Add layer" button and search the word "Cemetery." Click on the blue plus sign to add the layer.
Red pins indicate cemetery locations. Click on the red pin for more information about the cemetery.
Howard County Grant Program
Howard County's Department of Planning & Zoning and Cemetery Preservation Advisory Board (CPAB) partner with the Howard County Genealogical Society to sponsor a grant program for projects that support the repair, protection, landscaping, or educational signage of the County’s cemeteries.
This Fall from September 1 through November 14, the County will be accepting grant applications for Spring 2024 work. Please see the attached fillable form or pdf application that can be printed, mailed, dropped off or emailed to the County. More information is within the application.
Historic Property Tax Credits
The County’s Historic Property Tax Credit Program provides a 25% property tax credit for restoration work that is preapproved by the Historic Preservation Commission for a historic cemetery. Section 20.112 of the County Code says eligible cemetery restoration work may include repair or maintenance of existing gravestones, walls, fencing, or other site features (including historic outbuildings) of an eligible property that is a historic cemetery listed on the Inventory under section 16.1303 of the County Code. New construction and landscaping are not eligible for tax credits.
The Historic Property Tax Credits application can be found under the Historic Preservation Commission webpage.
Resources and Funding
Howard County Genealogical Society
The Genealogical Society maintains their own detailed record of cemeteries in Howard County, including an index of interments with about 16,000 names. To learn more about the Genealogical Society or purchase their records, please visit their website.
Find a Grave
Find a Grave has information on many cemeteries and graves in the County. The public can also upload their own entries and contribute to the documentation of the graves.
Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites
The Coalition is a statewide non-profit dedicated to protecting preserving Maryland’s historic cemeteries. They provide educational opportunities, workshops, and information about historic cemeteries in Maryland.
Trader Foundation Grants
The Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites (Coalition) is a state-wide nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving historic Maryland cemeteries. The Trader Foundation for Maryland Burial Sites is providing grants up to $2,000 to “rejuvenate endangered historic Maryland cemeteries.”
The grant deadlines are July 1 and January 1 of each year. Please visit the Trader Foundation website and contact the Coalition for more information on this grant.
Maryland Historical Trust
If the cemetery is connected to a property listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, it may be eligible for grant funding through the Maryland Historical Trust. Please see the MHT website and contact MHT for more information on the grant application and requirements.
Maryland Office of Cemetery Oversight
The Maryland Office of Cemetery Oversight regulates the affairs related to operating businesses involved in providing burial goods and services, including monuments and memorials. They DO NOT regulate abandoned, family, or non-operational cemeteries.