What a Cemeterist Does

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This page is part of the Global Cemeteries Project.

If you are new to trawling through overgrown cemeteries you might be a little bit daunted at the prospect of investigating your neighbourhood graveyard. The work of the Cemeterist is pretty simple, and basically involves four areas. You can get involved in any or all them. Here are a few tips to help get you started:


Photographing Gravestones and Monuments

  • Some graves may need a bit of cleaning. Please don't use commercial cleaning agents for this as it could damage the graves. Many Cemeterists just take a squirty bottle of water with them and a soft cloth. It is okay to take a small trowel to remove moss and other dirt, just be very careful when doing so. Some Cemeteries also take secateurs to trim the base of the headstone.
  • It is not advisable to take rubbings of the graves as this could damage them.
  • It's a good idea to re-size the image once you have got home. 1024x768 pixels, saved as a .jpeg at 75% quality is a good size to go for.
  • Take a photo of the entrance to the Cemetery if you can, to help people find it, and also note the address and any important directions.
  • If possible, find the GPS location for each grave and make a note of it. There are a number of apps for phones that can help with this.
  • When you have photos to upload to WikiTree, speak to your Team Leader about where to store them until they are ready to be added to a profile or Cemetery Free Space Page. Most teams have a "Progress" page where they track their current work before transferring it to the relevant Cemetery and Profile pages on completion.

Transcribing the Gravestone or Monument

The next step is to transcribe the photographs. Some people do this on site as they are taking the photographs. Others prefer to do it later. You can get involved in any and or stages of this work so don't feel you have to do the transcriptions if you would rather someone else did it. Just ask your Team Leader for help.

Creating/Maintaining Cemetery Free Space Pages

See How to Create a Cemetery Free Space Page for details if you would like to be involved in this side of the project. There should be one Cemetery Free Space page per cemetery. One thing you can contribute is creating a new page for a new cemetery, or updating and maintaining the details of existing cemeteries.

Adding Monumental Sources to profiles

Once the graves have been photographed and transcribed, they are ready to be added to the relevant profile on WikiTree. This involves adding a new profile if necessary, attaching the profile to the relevant photograph, adding the cemetery category to the profile, and adding the correct source to the bottom. The format is as follows:

Monumental inscription. Country. Cemetery name, place name. Monument death date as inscribed. (b. date as inscribed) LAST NAME inscribed, given name. GPS: DATA HERE. Photographed by: [[Wiki-ID|Name]]: date photo taken.

An example of this for a specific monument:

Monumental Inscription. England and Wales. St Botolph's Churchyard, Shenley, Hertfordshire. 12 September 1865 (b. 12 January 1814) BATES, Catherine. GPS: DATA HERE. Photographed by: Susie MacLeod: taken 31 December 2018.

Above all else, have fun! And don't be afraid to ask questions in the Google Group. We are all here to help each other.

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