you for expressing an interest in collecting/recording Tombstone
yourself on the back for "volunteering" to help others, many of whom
can't physically get to cemeteries, either
because they're handicapped, or are distance challenged. Your efforts
will be appreciated by hundreds, who do NOT KNOW where their families
interred. Family researchers hit "brick
walls" because they can't find those they are researching. It's amazing
clue" from a Tombstone
Inscription can help.
Above all, YOU are doing a good
deed, and the reward for doing a good
deed, is in having done it!
RECORDING TOMBSTONE INSCRIPTIONS
There are public
cemeteries, and there
are private cemeteries. Most
public cemeteries are non-denominational and wide-open to the public.
cemeteries, usually those
affiliated with some religious group, may require more "delicate"
Here are several pre-planning
suggestions to consider:
1.) Insure that
"your" cemetery hasn't already been recorded, published, and/or posted
on the Internet.
You can place the cemetery name into a "Search" engine on the Internet,
and go through the results to find out. If "your" cemetery has
been published (printed), you CAN NOT use the printed item to create
your own records as it is copyrighted. You CAN, however, go to the
cemetery and with permission (if necessary), record your own findings,
if you wish to do so. See Step 2.
2.) Go to "your"
cemetery and if an "Office" exists, stop in and ask permission to do
Tombstone Inscripton recordings.
You might also ask if they have a copy of interments within that you
could have. (This could save you hours of work). Most likely, they'll
give you permission to record your own listing, but, will not share
what they have with you. If an "Office" doesn't exist, and there isn't
anyone around to ask "permission", then you can start recording
3.) WHAT TO
Some of the first items to record, is the current date, name and
location of the cemetery (including directions how to get there), and
any historical information you can obtain. A photo of the entrance and
a cemetery map would be a
bonus. This will assist "viewers" who may want to visit this particular
4.) MAKE UP YOUR
Most cemeteries use "Section" markers to identify division areas. If no
"Section" markers exist, you will have to "mentally" sectionalize it
for yourself, even draw your own map! This will help you later, marking
off "what" areas you've recorded, and keeping track of what is left to
You'll need something to write with and on. Using pencils allow you to
fix any mis-written errors easily. You can use a note book to write
on...but don't write in the left side column...as this can be used for "special notes
" beside your entries.
A "clipboard" makes writing much easier, especially when you get near
the bottom of your pages. So, you
need pencils, note book and a clipboard
. A piece of chalk can be
used to place a small 'tick mark' on the stones you have recorded (in
case you get confused).
6.) MORE TOOLS.
Many cemeteries are not maintained well. Expect to have to "cut/trim
and or dig out/up" some markers so you can read them. In some cases you
may have to kneel down to do this more comfortably . . .so . . .
kneepads sure would help, especially if you're doing this for a long
time. A small brush (an old paintbrush...etc.) might be needed to
"brush" natural debris away so you can read the markers. And, a bottle
of water may come in handy for at least three reasons:
a.) your thirst; b.) to clean markers; c.) to help read markers (if
they're wet they may be able to be read easier).
7.) CLOTHING, etc.
Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. DO NOT wear leather shoes! You'll
be sliding all over the place. Some type of walking/tennis shoe will
work well, and be comfortable.
============================< S N I P
need pencils, note book,
clipboard, piece of chalk; cutting/digging tool, kneepads, small brush,
comfortable clothes/shoes, bottle of water.
============================< S N I P
8.) RECORDING THE
I always CAPITALIZE the surname and write it down first, followed by
the first name, middle initial, and the dates, then any "other" info.
Always separate these facts with punctuation (commas). When recording
by hand, you can use abbreviations to help speed up your recording.
Make up your own.
I use "mo" = Mother, "fa" = Father, "w/o" = wife of; "h/o" = husband
When writing months/days use the familiar "9/7/1893" or write it Sep 7,
Make it easy for yourself and set your own pace, just remember to write
When your recording is done for the day, you have to convert your notes
to a computer file. When you type it up, everything should be kept on
ONE line, if possible...if you must use two lines...indent the 2nd line.
9.) ABOUT READING
At a minimum, usually contain the family surname, the deceased's first
name, a birthdate and a deathdate.
(i.e. SMITH, John, 1890 / 12-Dec-1943)
They may also indicate some family relationship, Mother, Father, Son,
Daughter, Grandmother, Grandfather; or, "Wife of", "Husband of".
(i.e. SMITH, John, 1890 /
12-Dec-1943, Father, Husband of Mary)
Sometimes there may be a military reference. You should include those
details toward the end of your note book line.
(i.e. SMITH, John, 1885 / 1960,
Father, Vet WWII, 1st Sgt.)
In the case of a woman, her maiden name may be mentioned.
(i.e. SMITH, Mary, 1885 / 1960,
Mother, (nee SWARTZ)<--(Very
You want to record EVERYTHING that's inscribed. If a marker has any
unique features about it (size, shape, markings, etc.) record that info
in the lefthand column of your note book, across from that name.
You'll also come across stones with a DIFFERENT surname inscribed
rather than the family name. Here's how you notate it:
(i.e. WILLIS, George, 1860 / 1942,
Father, (same stone as SMITH, John))
(i.e. SMITH, Mary SWARTZ, 1885 /
1960, Mother, (same stone as John))
10.) BLANK DATES.
While pre-planning, many people have markers put in place BEFORE they
die. As a result, the deathdate is usually blank. This means the person
is probably STILL ALIVE and their privacy should be protected. You can
indicate that a stone exists, BUT, it should NOT contain ANY dates:
(i.e. SMITH, Mary SWARTZ, (no dates))
(You can mark the birthdate in your notes, but don't publish it!)
If it's "obvious" that a person is dead (more than 100 years old)
, it is
"OK" to say:
(i.e. SMITH, Mary SWARTZ, 1845-19__
11.) YOUR SAFETY.
Most important is your own safety. ALWAYS be aware of your
surroundings. Do NOT get so engrossed in what you are doing soas to
forget staying ALERT! If at all possible, bring a friend along to help
you do your recordings. (Maybe they'll even help!) Actually this can be
a very relaxing, enjoyable and educational experience for you.
Cemeteries are usually located in countryside atmospheres. You WILL see
wildlife! They live there. YOU are the intruder. Don't bother them and
they won't bother you! (Most likely they'll run away).
12.) BE A GOOD
If you come across anything that doesn't seem naturally right to you,
report it, either to the cemetery office or to some local authorities.
Good Luck--God Bless, and THANK YOU!
Thanks for stopping by. If I've helped, or you care to
or contribute files to my website, drop me a line to the E-Mail address
Home Page (linked below)!
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