How to survey large cemetery

+8 votes
How would one being a survey for a large cemetery? I've worked on a smaller cemetery but we also have some large ones in our area. I've searched for examples but haven't found any.

Anyone from the cemetery project able to give some insight? Thank you!
in Policy and Style by E Childs G2G6 Pilot (104k points)
This is how I did the Dresden Cemetery for Billion Graves:

I plugged the address of the cemetery into google maps and zoomed in until I could see the rows of markers and printed that off. As I completed a row (in newer areas) or sections (in older areas) I highlighted them. That way when I finished for the day and came back at a later point I knew what I had already done.

3 Answers

+10 votes
Morning, This is what I do. Relax take a deep breath . First I take a picture where I started . Divide in sections.  I  start at one end.  When I  take pictures  I usually do two rows   at a time ( do what you feel comfortable with )  I take a  card board box  not big Place in front of the last headstone I took the picture of.  Also, I take a notebook with me to write what row and last name. Also, comes in hand when  you need the information off headstone if  it is faded to write down the info.   Then when you get a chance  download you pictures  and make their profile / cemetery  freespace.  But, divide in sections.  It will be easier.Don`t worry if it  seems it is taking for ever. Have fun.

Mary Ann
by Mary Gi G2G6 Mach 4 (40.5k points)
+9 votes
Hi, E. I have found that most newer large cemeteries are easier to do as the cemetery was “planned” before interments. In this case, the cemetery office (if there is one) often have maps of the plots.

But.... in an older (or just plain old!) cemetery that is also large (one, say, like a cemetery of the Seven Sister Churches in Mecklenburg County, NC), I have seen folks make their own grids and servey by rows in the grids. The problem with this is that grids can break up families. This was done at Steele Creek Cemetery for their church history published in the early 70s.

The best method I’ve seen (and seen only once), if one has the resources, is to make a large map, by drone or or drawn by oneself (or using a copy of an actually survey of the boundaries by a professional surveyor) and coding it so that it references the survey of the gravestones.

I have never tried to tackle something so large, like you sticking to smaller  cemeteries instead.
by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.4m points)
My father did the map using an actual survey of the boundaries by a professional surveyor for a good sized Lutheran Cemetery years ago.  In addition to the survey, they ordered numbered metal grave markers that looked like huge (I mean really huge) railroad spikes with a number on top and a very long spike driven into the ground. This was used to key the survey map annotations to the physical locations on the ground even where the headstone had been lost. The spikes were used to establish plot numbers for the future as well.

Dad used the church burial records and a variety of other historical records to find the location of the graves that no longer had readable stones.

It was part of a 150 year celebration for the church and a real labor of love. While Dad was not a professional surveyor himself, he was an early expert in aerial photography mapping and worked for years with the development of the interstate highway system including the mapping. I've never seen anything like what he did anywhere else.
+7 votes
I have a large cemetery I'm working on currently and I'm finding that there are ways to section it off so that I'm only working on a small part at a time. For example, I started off at the mausoleum area where my Uncle is interred, and worked on just the wall where he is - then I worked my way around the corner - and finally to the last 2 walls until I had circled the small area where his mausoleum building is located. I am trying to be thorough, so each person I log I go through and research their source records, parents, spouses, children (if also passed away), and then try to connect them to the tree. It's time consuming, but very satisfying to know that when I'm done that person has been honored by a properly sourced connection to the global family tree and I've found a whole new branch of cousins.

To me, it's not about the size, but the quality that counts. I may never make it through the 75,000+ interments at their location, but I figure that if I work on them one at a time, I'll slowly work my way through it.

And the suggestion above (or perhaps below...)? Perfect. One photo at a time. One record at a time. One area or section at a time. Document everything you can. And record it to WikiTree as soon as you can after the information is documented or else you can easily misplace it or forget details.
by Scott Fulkerson G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)

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