Find My Ancestor Blog

Snow, Snow, Go Away – I Want to Go Outside and Play

I have never been a fan of the winter with all the snow and cold. By the time Christmas is over I am ready for spring and summer to come! I have been staring at cemetery gravestones all morning long and it is really making we wish I could go out and take photos, but I definitely don't want to do it in the snow. Am I alone in this or do some of you out there feel the same way? I know to the non-genealogist I might sound crazy, but for some reason I have an urge to go out and play among all the headstones right now!

I have also been thinking about the various websites available for volunteers and researchers to find photos of headstones, submit information/memorials and gather information on their ancestors. The two that come to my mind are and I have used both of these services, which are free, and find them to be quite useful. Find A Grave has been around for quite a while and has over 56 million grave records - that is a lot! Every single memorial and gravestone photo on Find A Grave is created and submitted by volunteers. For those who have never used Find A Grave before, the process is very simple. First, search the database to see if your ancestor already has a memorial. There have been many times I have searched the database not expecting to find my ancestor, but alas, there they are. Most of the time when I find ancestors on the website they have been contributed by someone who isn't even a relative. Many have gone through obituary records, vital records and many other types of records and have just started adding individuals from these collections. So, before you go and create a memorial make sure it hasn't already been done. There are quite a few duplicate memorials I have come across in the past because of this. If you didn't find a memorial for you ancestor, then go ahead and create one. Simply follow the easy steps on the Create a Memorial Link located on the side of the screen. Once you have created the memorial, or if you found a memorial previously created you can see whether or not there is a headstone photo already submitted. Obviously if you just create a memorial there won't be one available. One of the things I like best about Find A Grave is that you can get headstone photos for people who live thousands of miles away without you having to spend all the time and money traveling to take it yourself. Simply request a headstone picture by clicking on the request link in the person's memorial and hopefully within a few days to a month a volunteer in the area will fulfill your request. One thing to remember is that these are volunteers who are taking these pictures so you can't expect a response immediately. There are headstones I have had requested for over a year now and they still haven't been fulfilled. Just be grateful for the ones you do get because after all it is very nice of these people to take the photos free of charge. Names in Stone is another great website that hasn't been around as long as Find a Grave, but I can see some promising things happening there. One of the features that sets Names in Stone apart from Find a Grave is the fact that you can see on a map where your ancestor is buried in the cemetery as well as others who are around them. This can be a great help in finding other ancestors who you may not have know were buried there. Over the past year there has been quite the increase in the number of cemeteries added to the database and new ones added all the time. Names in Stone is always looking for new contributors to help build this mapping database. If you are unfamiliar with either of these websites, I highly suggest you check both of them out.

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  1. A.C. – The cold and snow may not seem conducive to cemetery work, but oddly enough the winter is the best time for some cemeteries – specifically, those that have a number of trees that provide abundant shade in the summer. This makes it difficult to take photographs of gravestones when the trees still have leaves. Besides, you might be able to get some beautiful pictures of snow-covered graves.

  2. I am the same, roll on Spring. I recently went up to my home County for a funeral and did get chance to visit a cemetery and get some photos taken.

  3. I love cool weather, but not messy times. Unfortunately it is a trade off so we can have enough moisture for my huge oak trees I love.

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