Abandoned Cemeteries

The Role of the Florida Master Site File

The Florida Master Site File is administered by the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Division of Historical Resources, under the Florida Department of State. The Site File is a clearing house for information regarding Florida's archaeological sites, historical structures, and the field survey of archaeological and historical sites. The Site File is the first place anyone will look for information on historic sites, including cemeteries. If a site is not recorded in the Site File, protection is more difficult, simply because there is a lack of basic knowledge and lots of opportunity for confusion. Although the Site File manages information on historic properties of all types, inclusion in the Site File offers no special protection or legal status for a site.

The Master Site File relies on reports submitted by individuals and organizations throughout the state for its information. If you are interested in protecting or caring for a historic cemetery, making sure it is listed in the Site File is a good place to start. If there is not a site form, you can fill one out and send it in. If the cemetery was recorded some time ago, it may be helpful to send in an updated form reflecting current conditions. The Florida Master Site File cemetery form is available online http://www.flheritage.com/preservation/sitefile/

When a site is accepted into the Florida Master Site File it receives an identification number which designates county and the next available number for that county when the site was listed when reported in the county. For example, the site file number for the Key West City Cemetery, MO203, indicates that the cemetery is located in Monroe County ("MO"), and was the 203rd site listed in that county.

A site does not require any particular level of significance to be listed and most sites that are reported are accepted. A special site form is used to record cemeteries and burial sites--The Historical Cemetery Form--developed in 1990. A Guide to the Historical Cemetery Form, which provides detailed information about completing the form, is also available. There is also an electronic or "SmartForm" version of the cemetery form that would be helpful for recording a number of cemeteries. In addition to the information requested on the form, a photocopy of a USGS topographic map (usually available at the county library) with the site marked, and photographs of the cemetery, must be included. The form and Guide can be obtained from the Florida Master Site File's web site: www.flheritage.com/preservation/sitefile/.

The records of the Site File are available to the public, although information about the location of certain sites may be limited if the sites are considered threatened by looting or vandalism. This exemption to the public records law is authorized in Chapter 267.135. It is most often applied to archaeological sites and unprotected shipwrecks.

For further information on the Florida Master Site File, including whether a cemetery is already recorded, and how to obtain and complete the historical cemetery form, contact Supervisor, Master Site File, Bureau of Historic Preservation, Division of Historical Resources, Florida Department of State, R. A. Gray Building, 500 South Bronough Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399-0250, telephone 850-245-6440, email fmsfile@dos.state.fl.us.