Related or Similar Initiatives

  • The Forgotten Ellis Island: Deaths in Quarantine, 1909-1911 – Cathy Horn, who discovered that one of her own ancestral relatives died as a youngster shortly after arriving at Ellis Island, has created a website dedicated to this little known aspect of our history. She invites others to research those who died in quarantine to 1) locate their passenger arrival records and 2) find out where in the U.S. they were going.  Cathy will post any new information found and will gladly give researchers credit by placing their names on the site.
  • Garden of Innocence – A non-profit public benefit corporation formed to provide dignified burials for abandoned and unidentified children.
  • Forgotten Ashes – A database for unclaimed cremains. Created by a funeral director in PA, contains over 3,400 entries as of May 2016.
  • The Hart Island Project – Providing access to information about the burials in New York City’s Cemetery on Hart Island and tools for storytelling so that “no one is omitted from history.” Those buried in the mass graves on the island include many unclaimed.
  • ClaimUS – A subset of the nationwide NamUs system (National Missing and Unidentified Persons System) for medical examiners (MEs) and coroners (COs) to enter their unclaimed persons case data. The public may access the database and reach out to the ME or CO with information they may have about an unclaimed individual.
  • State of California Unclaimed Persons –  Database search for unclaimed persons. The purpose of this site is to offer information and closure to families of deceased loved ones for whom next of kin was not located. Maintained by the San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Division. Note that this database used to be hosted at “” and was featured in the video which helped launch our effort. That URL is now defunct.
  • is a legacy site currently owned by our founder, Megan Smolenyak.
  • A similar effort to locate families of unclaimed veterans named Families for Forgotten Heroes, is also now defunct.

Articles about the Unclaimed Persons Situation

Below is a sampling of articles about the unclaimed persons epidemic. You may like us on Facebook to stay updated on related news.

  • Our Media Page – featuring cases researched by the Unclaimed Persons team
  • WNEP May 26, 2016 – “Forgotten Lives Remembered in Special Funeral Service” by Stacy Lange
  • New York TimesMay 15, 2016 – “Unearthing the Secrets of New York’s Mass Graves” by Nina Bernstein
  • Herald Mail Media March 6, 2016 – “Veterans estate being used to benefit Franklin County’s poor” by Jennifer Fitch
  • National Public Radio – January 25, 2016 – “‘Today We Are His Family’: Teen Volunteers Mourn Those Who Died Alone” by Arun Rath
  • The HeraldDecember 10, 2015 – “Unclaimed Dead? York County coroner has cremated ashes, money, jewelry, even TVs” by Andrew Dys
  • Atlas ObscuraOctober 26, 2015 – “Indigent Burial in the U.S. is Shrouded in Confusion and Inconsistency–But There is Hope” by Simon Davis
  • The Augusta ChronicleAugust 18, 2015 – “Augusta-area coroners say they treat unclaimed bodies with respect” by Bianca Cain Johnson
  • WTOC June 22, 2015 – “Unclaimed bodies: More than 250 bodies stored in a county closet” by David Klugh, Anchor
  • Chicago Sun TimesApril 19, 2015 – “The county’s unclaimed dead recieve ‘dignity in death’ in archdiocese’s donated graves” by Diana Novak
  • The ChronicleJuly 31, 2012 – “Lewis County Coroner seeks to find family for unclaimed remains before August burials” by Stephanie Schendel
  • Tampa Bay TimesDecember 8, 2011 – “To be scattered at sea is a respectful end for the claimed and unclaimed”
  • Time MagazineAugust 07, 2009 – “Death in the Recession: More Bodies Left Unburied” by Alison Statement
  • National Public RadioJuly 28, 2009 – “In L.A. County, A Spike In Unclaimed Bodies” with Madeleine Brand, host
  • The OregonianJune 14, 2009 – “Oregonians act as ‘next of kin’ for unclaimed dead” by Ann Saker

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