his paper aims to examine the potential uses and applications of geospatial technologies for cemetery management. The Woodland Hills Memorial Park in Mankato, Minnesota, was used as a case study. The hard copy, handwritten records of the Woodland Hills Memorial Park were converted to digital formats, and then combined with GPS gathered data using GIS. The traditional method of storing and keeping these records is time consuming, as the curator must hand write all the information into the physical books. The maps of the park are also hand-drawn, which makes their examination and upkeep tedious. By creating digital copies of all the records, modifications can be made swiftly and simply, and searches for specific information or gravesites can be performed without undue hassle. Some of the risks associated with these records are that they may be lost, damaged, or rendered unreadable. Creating multiple electronic backups, which can be done with a geodatabase, eliminates these risks. Once the initial database has been assembled, it can be linked to the digitally created maps.

By using geodatabases, the locational data gathered using the Trimble Geo7x GPS units was joined to the digitized paper records to create a finished product that functions using both spatial and attribute data. Demographic analysis (Moran’s I) is utilized to detect the strength of spatial patterns. The result shows that there are significant clustering patterns for veterans of WWII and Korean War. When examining the spatial distribution of the ages of those interred based on their generation, it is revealed that there are significant clustering patterns in each of the six generations represented. In addition, genealogic analysis is also applied to examine cultural or ethnic information and reveals indicative of the strong German and Scandinavian heritage of Minnesota due to last name such as Anderson, Nelson, and Peterson.

This research allows for better cemetery management techniques, as the geodatabase format is easy to update, provides an ideal framework for spatial and attribute queries, and simplifies the maintenance requirements of the records. It also provides an outline for other projects with the eventual goal of having more cemetery geodatabase to improve management alike. One of the future studies discussed in this paper includes the option to improve the results of the project by adding more demographic data such as gender, ethnicity, and family ties to the geodatabase. Another expansion would be into web mapping and apps. Using programs like ArcGIS Online, hosting a web map or even a custom-made app of the cemetery would be a good alternative for someone unfamiliar with geodatabases or GIS techniques.


Woo Jang

Committee Member

Fei Yuan

Committee Member

Namyong Lee

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Science (MS)

Program of Study



Social and Behavioral Sciences

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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