A Beautiful Day In The Cemetery

Yesterday was a beautiful day to do Maine genealogy outside, one of the nicest we’ve had in a while. So I printed the headstone photo request list off Find-A-Grave and headed out to our local cemetery to try and help others find their people.

It was a complete bust! Ha!! Out of the ten people I was looking for, no one had a headstone photo. It happens sometimes. I didn’t fare well this time, but there are things I always keep in mind when I head out to take pictures in cemeteries.

  • First, I look up the profile of the requested ancestor on Find A Grave to see if there are others linked to them who are also without a photo. While I’m there, I might as well get them too!
  • Second, I make a list with names, cemetery plot information, and birth/death dates if they are known.
  • Third, I have maps of my local cemetery by section and grab the ones I need and head out the door.
Cemetery Maps

I start with Section A and walk until I’m finished. Usually, I head home feeling successful. Not this time! But if I had taken photos today, I try and follow these “rules.”

  • Take the photo at an angle so you don’t see your reflection.
  • Get a wide shot of the stone and a close-up if it’s needed. For example, here are photos of my husband’s great-grandparents’ stones…
  • Are there other family members around them? Get a shot of the entire family plot.
  • Transcribe the data from the stone on paper or into a note-taking app while you are looking at it! Don’t rely on your memory!
  • Use a mirror to reflect the sun to make the stone easier to read and NEVER put anything on the stone, as it could damage it.
  • Look around the plot and see if there are other surnames you recognize. My husband and I did a lot of looking around when we went searching for his relatives in Newbury, Massachusetts. You can read about that trip here.

I enjoy volunteering for Find A Grave. It’s a wonderful way to help and spend time in a quiet, beautiful place. If you’re not a volunteer, go to their website and sign up. It doesn’t cost a thing and you’ll be doing something good!

If you need help researching your Maine ancestors, give me a shout. I would love to connect you with your past.

Genealogy tip: When you get home and look at the photos you’ve taken you’ll be happy you took too many rather than too few.

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