Tag Archives: cemetery research

Using Your Smartphone Camera for Genealogy

Vicki’s note – very helpful article from Family Tree Magazine:

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Using Your Smartphone Camera for Genealogy

Caught on Camera: Smartphone Camera Tips
6/13/2017
Learn to use your smartphone to capture high-quality photos of genealogy records, relatives, gravestones and family homes.

When was the last time you used an actual, dedicated digital camera to take photos? If you’re like most of us, your smartphone has replaced your old point-and-shoot digital camera. If you got your phone within the past few years, it likely offers a high-resolution camera with sophisticated algorithms to compensate for the small sensor and lens size. That small size makes your smartphone easy to keep in a pocket or purse and capture friends, family and genealogy resources at any time. And if you have a data plan, it’s also easy to instantly sync these photos to the cloud.

Your smartphone is the ideal tool to “photocopy” microfilm records and library books, preserve images of ancestors’ gravestones, take snapshots of all 45 people at your next family reunion, and record the homes and other buildings that form the backdrop for your family’s story. Most of us rarely get opportunities to capture these important genealogy images, so you want to make sure you do it right the first time. Follow these tips to get the perfect shot when taking five types of family history photos.

Microfilmed record

A few inexpensive accessories can turn your smartphone camera into a portable microfilm scanning machine, and make your library research time more efficient. No more waiting for a turn at the scanner-equipped film reader or taking laborious handwritten notes. Not all libraries permit cameras, so check with the librarian before you go. Here’s how to do it:

  • For best results, use a small flexible tripod or a clamp with a smartphone mount. I like the Joby GripTight Mount and GorillaPod tripod, which securely holds my cell phone and has bendable legs I can attach to the upper hood of the microfilm reader desk.
  • A remote shutter release like the CamKix prevents “camera shake” when you press the shutter.
  • Position the camera to aim straight down over the reader projection surface. Eliminate glare or reflection by placing a large sheet of plain white paper onto the projection surface. Adjust the microfilm reader lens to sharpen the projected image.
  • Turn off your camera flash and close apps you aren’t using to help conserve power. Take a few test shots before you get started on your project. Make sure the image is sharp and clear, and includes the entire page. If necessary, brighten or darken the film reader lamp to minimize glare.
  • When you start a new roll of film or a new section of records on the same roll, take a photo of the film box and file number or of the source information on the title page. You can use the photo to create a source citation in your research log.

Books, documents and photos

Smartphone cameras are often a better solution than flatbed scanners or photocopiers for digitizing fragile or bound books at the library, and you don’t have to worry about running out of change. When you’re surprised with a photo find at a relative’s house, your smartphone may be all you have to reproduce it. Multiple documents, maps, and other papers can be digitized quickly and with excellent results using a smartphone camera. Remember to ask permission before photographing library materials. Turn off your flash if required (it often causes glare, anyway).

  • Make sure your lens is clean. Apple recommends using only a soft, lint-free cloth, such as a camera lens cloth, to carefully clean dust and fingerprints from the iPhone camera lens. Avoid moisture, compressed air or cleaning agents of any kind, particularly anything abrasive. See your cell phone dealer for more extensive cleaning or repair.
  • To avoid shutter shake and save your arms when photographing many pages, use a remote shutter release. A copy stand, such as the Fopydo Smartstand, also is useful. You’ll also want a bookrest or bean bag to support a book’s covers when open (the library may have these available—ask when you call ahead).
  • If possible, find a flat surface with plenty of light.
  • Support your smartphone on the copy stand, if you’re using one. Place a document or photograph flat on the table and position your camera directly over it so the lens has an unobstructed view of the entire page. Avoid shooting at an angle, which distorts the shape of the paper or photo.
  • If you’re shooting a book, place it on a bookrest so it stays open. You may need to use one hand or a bean bag to gently flatten the page. Position the camera over the page, tilted at the same angle as the page.
  • Take test shots with (if permitted) and without flash to see which produces the best photos in the available light.
  • Speed your scanning workflow by using a scanning app, such as CamScanner (iOS, Android, Windows), Genius Scan (iOS, Android) and TurboScan (iOS, Android), instead of the phone’s built-in camera. These apps crop and straighten pages as you scan, create files with multiple pages, and offer enhanced lighting. You also can name pages as you “scan” them, add a date stamp and choose whether to create a PDF or JPEG file.
  • Save scanned images to your Camera Roll or email account, or export them to your cloud storage service.

Gravestones

Capturing a good image of a gravestone lets you extract all possible information and edit it to improve readability. Some cemeteries have regulations regarding the type of equipment you can use or they require photographers to get permission from the office, so call ahead before you go. And of course, respect the solemnity of the surroundings.

  • Bring a soft brush to remove loose dirt from the stone and a spray bottle with plain water to help bring out the inscription. Don’t apply any other substances, such as shaving cream or flour, to the stone. If the cemetery isn’t maintained, bring garden shears to trim weeds that cover the inscription. Don’t forget water for yourself, sunscreen and bug spray.
  • Use the built-in viewfinder grid to keep the gravestone straight and level.
  • To illuminate a hard-to-read inscription, try to photograph the stone when sunlight hits the face at about a 30-degree angle (morning for an east-facing stone, midday for west-facing stones). Using a reflector or a large white board can help you aim light at the stone. If the sunlight is too strong, shade the stone with a dark cloth. You’ll want to have a helper to handle this paraphernalia while you shoot, as well as for safety reasons.
  • Photos of hard-to-read gravestones can easily lose their identifying information. Your phone’s photo app probably lets you add text on an image, or you can use an app that places a caption below the image on a frame. Instants Photo Edition by Soreha (iOS) adds a Polaroid-style frame to photos captured “in-app” with the camera, or already in your camera roll, with an optional space for a caption. MOLDIV photo editor (iOS and Android) lets you add captions on the photo or within a simple frame around the image.
  • Record and upload GPS and inscription data to the web with a cemetery app such as Find A Grave or Billion Graves (both available for iOS and Android).

Houses and other buildings

Your ever-present smartphone is a handy tool for photographing family homes and the buildings where your ancestors worshipped, worked or attended school. A few tricks will help you best capture the entire facade and, for public structures, move inside to photograph interior rooms. If you’re photographing a private home from a public sidewalk or street, it’s not required—but it is good manners—to first let the owner know the purpose for your pictures. Don’t enter any yards unless the property owner gives you the go-ahead. Be aware that some public buildings have photo and media restrictions for security reasons.

  • Morning or afternoon light, or overcast skies, will give you the most pleasing light with fewer harsh shadows. On sunny days, plan to photograph buildings when the sunlight falls on the front of the structure, rather than directly overhead or facing the camera.
  • Position yourself at a comfortable distance, where you’re safe from passing traffic or other hazards. If you plan to take several photos, a tripod and smartphone camera mount may be helpful.
  • Use the camera’s built-in viewfinder grid to keep the horizon or roofline level. Or use the Camera Plus App (Android and iOS), which offers the traditional “rule of thirds grid” (which helps you compose a pleasing image) and a horizon level. The iPhone’s built-in Camera App includes a grid you can enable in Settings>Photos & Camera>Camera>Grid.
  • To include the tall dome of City Hall or sprawling wings of a ranch-style home with the built-in camera app, you’ll need to step back far enough to see the entire structure in your camera viewfinder or use a wide-angle lens on your camera. Sometimes that’s hard to do. A clip-on wide-angle or fisheye lens (which is curvilinear and will cause straight lines in your photo to appear curved) is especially useful in tight city streets, where it can be virtually impossible to back up far enough to photograph large buildings. The lens also lets you capture interior views of home living rooms, kitchens, and other spaces.
  • Experiment with taking portrait (vertical) and landscape (horizontal) images. The panorama mode available on newer smartphone cameras is another option for including wide structures. See the techniques for Family Group Photos for ideas on using this feature.
  • Turn on your phone’s geotagging, or location, option to help you remember the exact location of the building.
  • Before snapping your photo, check the corners and edges of the frame for power lines, poles, bus benches, parked cars and unsightly trash bins. Try to minimize them if you can. A few of these “props” can help set the date and place, but too much confusion in a photo can overwhelm your main subject.

Relatives

Frame-worthy group photos rarely just happen. It’s hard to get a gaggle of people assembled in one place, all smiling and looking at the camera at the same time. Use these pro photography tips to make the pictures from your next family reunion the best in decades.

  • Smartphones typically boast two lenses. The front-facing lens, best for selfies, is usually relatively low resolution. For example, the iPhone 7 Plus and Google Pixel XL both offer a 12 megapixel rear-facing camera and 7 or 8 megapixel front-facing camera. Use the main, rear-facing camera for the best photos.
  • Plan ahead for group shots, if possible, by encouraging relatives to wear solid-color tops. That puts the focus on faces in your pictures. But don’t be overly strict: Uncle Harry’s signature bright plaid button-down deserves a place in history.
  • Turn off the flash to avoid red-eye and harsh shadows. Shoot outside in the early morning or late afternoon, or under an overcast sky. In bright sun, go for open shade, like under a large tree. Avoid patchy shadows.
  • Select a spot with an uncluttered background that’s free from distractions such as trash cans, telephone poles and cars. A park, garden or beach location works well.
  • Gather props like stools, benches, lawn chairs and even ladders to achieve different levels. Pose the kids on laps and on the grass in front.
  • Wide panorama pictures are great for large groups or playful smaller groups (such as everyone holding hands in a chain). Take advantage of your smartphone panorama mode by slowly panning the group in the direction of the arrow on your phone camera app (practice this ahead of time—you don’t want to have a large group posed and waiting on you to figure out your phone).
  • To include yourself in the picture, use a tripod and the self-timer or a remote shutter release. Set up your camera and compose the picture. On the iPhone, access the self-timer by tapping the timer dial at the top of the photo screen, then select 3 or 10 seconds. Check the user guide for other phone models.
  • Take a bunch of photos. You’re certain to get some pictures with closed eyes, runny noses, fussy kids and awkward body language. More photos gives you a better selection. You can take multiple shots in quick succession with the burst mode feature found on most Android and iOS smartphones. Simply hold down the shutter button and the camera will take 10 frames per second. This can result in lots of images, though, so be aware you’ll need to choose the best and toss the rest.

Tip: When shooting a photo, steady your camera by standing with your legs slightly apart and arms held at an easy height, or use a tripod with swivel head.

Smartphone Smarts

You don’t have to use the latest model phone to capture great digital photographs. Most devices released in the last two or three years feature high-resolution cameras and compatibility with popular photo and editing apps. Each device and model will be slightly different, so take time to learn the basic features of your phone’s built-in camera app, including:

  • turning the flash on and off
  • locking focus on the subject (usually by touching the screen)
  • adjusting exposure
  • using the self timer
  • selecting the mode (such as video, photo or panorama)
  • setting resolution
  • performing basic editing (use photo-editing apps for advanced edits)
  • sharing photos

More Resources

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Denise May Levenick is the author of How to Archive Family Photos (Family Tree Books).
A version of this article originally appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

Backwards Gravestones

Vicki’s note – article from Family Tree Magazine Plus:

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Now What: Do Backwards Gravestones Indicate Suicide?

6/9/2011
Q. My grandma once told me a gravestone facing the opposite way of all the others in the cemetery indicates that person committed suicide. Is this true? 

A. Cemeteries follow different traditions, but if a person who committed suicide were to be ostracized after death, it’s more likely that the body would be buried apart from others. According to the Association for Gravestone Studies, the north side of a cemetery was often considered less desirable, so suicides might be buried there along with paupers, slaves, members of minority religious sects and the unidentified deceased. Suicides also were sometimes buried upside-down, with the head vertically below the feet, as a post-mortem punishment; this required considerably deeper digging and, of course, is impossible to check without excavation.

Rather than a suicide, you might find that someone buried the opposite way is actually a minister. Many church graveyards were laid out east-west, with the head at the western end of the grave, to be facing the risen Christ on Judgment Day. But the minister was sometimes buried with his head at the eastern end of his grave so he’d be facing his flock at the time of Resurrection.

Reading & Cleaning Tombstones

Vicki’s Note – besides editing photographs of tombstones to increase contrast readability, here are some more hints from The Genealogist’s Question & Answer Book, by Marcia Yannizze Melnyk (which is available to check out from Arrowhead Library System libraries.:

Reading & Cleaning Tombstones

Do not use any substance on a tombstone – i.e. chalk, shaving cream, flour, bleach, cleaner, etc. as it may permanently damage it.  The residue can make lichen grow or attract insects.

Use only distilled water (or water from a dehumidifier) in a spray bottle to make the tombstone wet and more readable. Chemicals in rain water or tap water can be acidic and corrode the stone.

You could use a soft toothbrush to gently brush off only the areas of the tombstone that you need to read.  Also toothpicks, wooden cuticle stick, or q-tips can be used to gently clean the inside of the letters or carvings.

Use a mirror to enhance the light to read the tombstone.  Hold the mirror at an angle to reflect the sun across the stone carvings at various angles side to side, or top to bottom.  Casting shadows across the carving, no matter how shallow makes them more clearly readable.

Keep a camera, spray bottle of distilled water and toothpicks, wooden cuticle stick, q-tips, soft toothbrush, and hand mirror in a cemetery backpack ready to go.

 

Podcast and weblinks: Cemeteries and Genealogy

Vicki’s note – podcast and web-links from Family Tree Magazine. 

October 2016 Podcast: Cemeteries and Genealogy
10/19/2016
By Lisa Louise Cooke
Learn all about what cemetery records you can find and how they can benefit your genealogy research in this month’s podcast.

Listen to this episode


 Back to the episode list

Listen to Lisa Louise Cooke’s podcast, The Genealogy Gems Podcast in iTunes and visit her website for great research ideas, podcast episodes and videos.

Lisa’s book is available at ShopFamilyTree.com: Mobile Genealogy

News from the Blogosphere with Genealogy Insider, Diane Haddad

Diane talks about going to the cemetery and the things you can learn about your ancestors from their cemetery records. Read Diane’s blog post here: 9 Things You can Learn About Your Ancestors from the Cemetery.

Top Tips

In this segment, we talk key clues in cemetery records from the Cemetery Records Workbook in the Oct/Nov 2016 Family Tree Magazine issue by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack. Sharon talks about:

  • What we should be looking for when it comes to cemeteries and their records
  • Which sites to turn to first
  • Strategies to try if you don’t have luck finding your ancestor’s burial place.

 

101 Best Websites

 

Jennifer Davis from the Records Division at Family Search gives us the scoop on cemetery and death records at Family Search. She provides an overview of the types of death and burial records we can find in their online database and advice on how to effectively run a search to find them. Finally, she explains Family Search’s partnership with memorial websites such as Find A Grave and Billion Graves, and how to work with their content on the Family Search site.

Family Tree University Crash Course

Vanessa Wieland shares tips from Family Tree University’s 2-week self-paced course called Doing Cemetery Research. Register today!
101 Best Websites
Jennifer Davis from the Records Division at Family Search gives us the scoop on cemetery and death records at Family Search. She provides an overview of the types of death and burial records we can find in their online database and advice on how to effectively run a search to find them. Finally, she explains Family Search’s partnership with memorial websites such as Find A Grave and Billion Graves, and how to work with their content on the Family Search site.
Family Tree University Crash Course
Vanessa Wieland shares tips from Family Tree University’s 2-week self-paced course called Doing Cemetery Research. Register today!

From the Publisher’s Desk with Allison Dolan

Allison’s Cemetery Research Dos and Don’ts:

  • Do check for online databases of cemetery records. See if the cemetery has posted burial records online.
  • Don’t assume that the tombstone is all there is. The cemetery might have additional burial records it will allow you to access, and those records could contain information and clues that complement the tombstones.
  • Do find out the cemetery’s hours, rules, etc. before visiting in person. It would be a shame to show up and not be able to do what you came for.
  • Don’t apply any substances other than water to a tombstone to make it more readable. When I got started, I heard a lot people recommend using shaving cream to bring out the words, but preservationists do not recommend this. Instead take a digital photo and then use the photo editing software to adjust the contrast so you can make out the transcription. If the lighting isn’t good for the photograph, try using a mirror to reflect sunlight onto the stone.
  • Do take photos of the entire plot and any surrounding stones you think could have a connection to your family, to create a permanent record.

Cleaning and Caring for Headstones and Markers

(Vicki’s Note – here are some practical suggestions from the United States Government on how to clean the Headstones and Markers that they issue free to military veterans.  The procedures can be used on any marble cemetery headstone.)

Cleaning and Caring for Government Headstones and Markers
The National Park Service’s National Center for Preservation Technology and Training completed a study in 2011 to evaluate general cleaning needs of marble government-issued headstones. The findings are found in Best Practice Recommendations for Cleaning Government-Issued Headstones.

Grave location website BillionGraves free account

(Note from Vicki – sorry that I didn’t get you this sale information on BillionGraves from Thomas MacEntee earlier, but the free access looks powerful to use until another sale come along for the premium version. You might want to sign up for his genealogy.bargains site also to be notified of other bargains that he passes along. )

Your Last Chance to “Super Charge”
Your Cemetery Research!

Are you struggling with cemetery research when it comes to genealogy and family history? What about locating graves for those who are family members but the headstone simply says “Mother” or “Infant”? And can’t there be an easier way to locate nearby graves?

Recently I made the move from a “well known” grave location website to BillionGraves (click here to set up a free account and get instant access!) and I’m amazed at what I’ve found for my own research. In addition, the sense of “community” at BillionGraves is more in tune with the way I share genealogy information with others: we’re all working towards a common goal of documenting all the graves worldwide!

Announcing BillionGraves Plus – “Power Up” Your Research

Normally, I will use the “free” version of a genealogy website when I can. But recently, I took the BillionGraves Plus premium feature for a test drive and all I can say is: YES! And if you ask me is it worth the yearly subscription price? Again, a definite YES!

Read my recent review here of how BillionGraves Plus works and why it can help you work smarter when it comes to cemetery record research.  Wouldn’t it be great to take advantage of features like these?

  • Family Plots: 70% of all people are buried in Family Plots. This feature shows you where they are!
  • Nearby Graves: Family members that do not share the same family name are most likely found near other family graves. This feature allows you to see those headstones, sorted by distance from the one you selected. An example might be a headstone that is labeled only as “Infant”, “Mother” or “Father”.
  • Global Family: See everyone that shares the same family name on a map sorted by city, county, state, country or even the whole world. You can then zoom in and see the specifics.
  • Family Notifications: You will be notified immediately ANYTIME a NEW RECORD comes in that matches the name and location you have selected. You don’t have to search. We search for you.

A Special Offer from BillionGraves

The normal price for a one year subscription of BillionGraves Plus is $59.95. I have worked with the folks at BillionGraves to put together this amazing deal – one of the lowest prices EVER! You can get one year of all the premium features for just $39.97. You MUST use this link and already have a BillionGraves free account (if not, visit http://billiongraves.com to set one up).

And this offer expires on Monday, March 14th at 5:00 pm Mountain time! Don’t let this opportunity to research “smarter” pass you by!

Get the Latest Deals in Genealogy and Family History at Genealogy.Bargains
Take advantage of sales from well-known genealogy and family history vendors such as Ancestry, FindMyPast, ShopFamilyTree and more!

Visit http://genealogy.bargains for the best promo codes, coupons and sales.
Thomas MacEntee
GeneaBloggers

©2016, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

4 Ways to Research in a Cemetery

4 Ways to Research in a Cemetery

Genealogists love cemeteries! Cemeteries can be critical for finding information related to the births and deaths of our ancestors. When there is a lack of records sometimes the only information we have will be on a gravestone. In this article we’ll discuss four ways you can expand your cemetery research.

1. Ancestor Research

If you are researching from afar you will likely use the Findagrave.com or billiongraves.com websites to help search for your ancestors’ graves. The challenge with using a website rather than visiting in person is that it causes you to focus too tightly on a single ancestor. One of the greatest benefits of researching in a cemetery is discovering other ancestors in nearby plots. While you can’t do this virtually you can sort of recreate the effect on Findagrave.com

Search for an ancestor that you know is listed in Findagrave.com. Next use the “Find all [surname] in:” feature which appears in the sidebar to the left. This will show you all the other people in that cemetery with the same surname. There are also options for searching the surname more broadly in the same town, county, and state. If you are searching for a common name that might not be practical but searching the same cemetery is always a good idea.

4WaystoResearchinaCemtery

FindaGrave.com

 

2. House Research

One of the best ways to use cemetery research is to research the history of your own house.  Maybe you’ve never considered doing that before! It can be as fun as researching your own family and you’ll discover that the former residents of your house become almost like family after researching them.

If you live in a house that was built before 1900 then chances are good that the former residents are buried in one of the local cemeteries. You’ll have to do deed research first to find out their names, followed up with census and vital record research but it shouldn’t be too hard to track them down. Once you’ve discovered the former residents of your house visit the cemetery to learn more about them.

3. Local History Research

Genealogists typically have ancestors spread across a wide region or even multiple countries. Our ancestors just didn’t stay put! The flip side of genealogical research is doing local history – research in your own back yard. Researching the local history of your town or village can give you a deep appreciation of the people who lived there before you.

Start your local history research with a tour of the oldest local cemetery. There you will likely discover the founders of your town. Walk through the cemetery and notice the surnames that are most prevalent. These will be the earliest families that stayed to help build the town into what it is today.

Also notice memorials or veterans markers. Get to know the people from your town who served in the American Revolution, the Civil War and other conflicts. You might even see gravestones for certain professions such as ship captains or fraternal organizations such as the Masons.

Next think about what interests you. Is it a certain time period like colonial America or a conflict like the Civil War? Choose some folks from the cemetery who intrigue you and put your genealogical skills to work. Learn about their lives through census and vital records and local history books. You may even consider blogging about them or sharing what you find with the local historical society. The one thing that is guaranteed to happen is that you will gain a richer appreciation of your town!

4. Carver / Art Research

There is so much more to cemetery research than just the names and dates on the gravestones. Have you ever noticed that gravestones are different shapes and sizes in different time periods? If you look closely you will see patterns that will help you identify the age of a stone quickly.

The art and letter carving on a gravestone also changes with time. The history of the development of stone carvers in America is quite fascinating. The earliest carvers came from Boston and were collectively known as the “Boston carvers.” As the colonies grew, local carvers started to take over. There is often a relationship or association between the local carver and the people he memorialized in stone. It can be a fascinating journey to learn about the individual carvers represented in your local cemetery.

The art on the gravestones contains symbols that held greater meaning in a time when many people didn’t know how to read. For instance, grapes represented Christianity and an hour glass reminds us that time flies and life is fleeting.

To learn more about the carvers and the art they created visit the Association for Gravestone Studies. For more in-depth information about carvers in early New England see Graven Images by Allan Ludwig or Gravestones of Early New England and the Men who Made Them 1653-1800 by Harriette Merrifield Forbes. For gravestone symbolism see Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography by Douglas Keister.

Have you done other kinds of cemetery research? Let me know!

Marian Pierre-Louis is the Social Media Marketing Manager for Legacy Family Tree. She is also the host of The Genealogy Professional podcast. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.

Cemetery Research

4 Ways to Research in a Cemetery

Legacy Family Tree News

Genealogists love cemeteries! Cemeteries can be critical for finding information related to the births and deaths of our ancestors. When there is a lack of records sometimes the only information we have will be on a gravestone. In this article we’ll discuss four ways you can expand your cemetery research.

1. Ancestor Research

If you are researching from afar you will likely use the Findagrave.com or billiongraves.com websites to help search for your ancestors’ graves. The challenge with using a website rather than visiting in person is that it causes you to focus too tightly on a single ancestor. One of the greatest benefits of researching in a cemetery is discovering other ancestors in nearby plots. While you can’t do this virtually you can sort of recreate the effect on Findagrave.com

Search for an ancestor that you know is listed in Findagrave.com. Next use the “Find all [surname] in:” feature which appears in the sidebar to the left. This will show you all the other people in that cemetery with the same surname. There are also options for searching the surname more broadly in the same town, county, and state. If you are searching for a common name that might not be practical but searching the same cemetery is always a good idea.

4WaystoResearchinaCemtery

FindaGrave.com

2. House Research …

3. Local History Research …

4. Carver / Art ResearchThere is so much more to cemetery research than just the names and dates on the gravestones. Have you ever noticed that gravestones are different shapes and sizes in different time periods? If you look closely you will see patterns that will help you identify the age of a stone quickly.

The art and letter carving on a gravestone also changes with time. The history of the development of stone carvers in America is quite fascinating. The earliest carvers came from Boston and were collectively known as the “Boston carvers.” As the colonies grew, local carvers started to take over. There is often a relationship or association between the local carver and the people he memorialized in stone. It can be a fascinating journey to learn about the individual carvers represented in your local cemetery.

The art on the gravestones contains symbols that held greater meaning in a time when many people didn’t know how to read. For instance, grapes represented Christianity and an hour glass reminds us that time flies and life is fleeting.

To learn more about the carvers and the art they created visit the Association for Gravestone Studies. For more in-depth information about carvers in early New England see Graven Images by Allan Ludwig or Gravestones of Early New England and the Men who Made Them 1653-1800 by Harriette Merrifield Forbes. For gravestone symbolism see Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography by Douglas Keister.

Have you done other kinds of cemetery research? Let me know!

Marian Pierre-Louis is the Social Media Marketing Manager for Legacy Family Tree. She is also the host of The Genealogy Professional podcast. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.