Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Eagle Scout Service Project: Map a Cemetery

As many of you know, to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, a Boy Scout has to do a service/leadership project that totals 80 to 150 hours.

Adam D. of American Fork, Utah decided that for his service project, he would map the Fairfield, Utah cemetery. Adam's plan was to lead a group of Scouts in transcribing headstone information, mapping the nearly 300-grave cemetery, photographing each headstone, and then creating an online map of the cemetery at Names in Stone.

Early in November, Adam recruited 6 other scouts and two leaders who made the trip to Fairfield, located west of Utah Lake in Utah County. Adam split the group into three teams and held a brief training exercise to make sure the Scouts knew their goals and responsibilities. Each team had a photographer, a mapper, and a recorder. They divided the cemetery into three sections and the teams went to work.

Adam's scout committee wholeheartedly approved his project and are excited about his choice to map a cemetery. They are encouraging other scouts to consider mapping a cemetery for their Eagle Projects.

Adam says that the first phase of the project at the cemetery was a great success and he is currently creating the cemetery map on the NAMES IN STONE website. Adam has some great ideas for other Boy Scouts who might be interested in mapping a cemetery for their Eagle Scout Service Projects.

Cemetery tips:
  • Use graph paper to draw the cemetery map. With several scouts drawing maps, it can be hard to keep things consistent. Graphing paper helps the mappers keep things lined up and in order. It also helps the person creating the map on the website be more accurate in placing graves.
  • Make sure that the mapper, photographer, and recorder stay together and map one grave at a time. If someone goes ahead things get confusing and people make mistakes.
  • Use string, or some other kind of marker, to make a dividing line in the cemetery so the teams don't overlap.
  • Periodically check quality and accuracy of each team's work - make sure everyone is using the same system and that there are no misunderstandings or mistakes.

Mapping tips:

  • Divide the hand-drawn map into several sections. Place graves for a whole section at a time and then go back and enter the data for each grave.
  • Upload each headstone photo at the same time you enter the record.
  • Use two person teams to enter the records. One person can enter the data and the other person can check for accuracy of the written record compared to the headstone and make sure the computer entry is correct.

Adam and his friends really enjoyed mapping this cemetery. Adam says, "I had the feeling that we were helping the descendants of the people who are buried here find their ancestors. I know that what we're doing will help keep their memory alive."


  1. Hi,
    Would you like to add your data to our service

  2. Hello! That is a great project idea! My name is cameron. My eagle project was I set up that monument there and are currently in the process of having a plaque made with all the names of the people buried there up to the year 1950. TONSof headstones are unreadable and will become unreadable after time. My question is how do you know who is buried there at a grave where you can't read the head stone? All the rocks you see out there in that feild are grave markers that have detiorated over time or had nothing on them. How do you know who is buried where?

  3. Dear Cameron: You could find out the name of the Sexton (Cemetery's caretaker) or contact the Clerk at the local government office (city/township/village). There should be records that you can view to get that information. Just keep in mind that some graves may be too old and therefore no record may exist any longer. Best of luck to you.

  4. Here's a tip for you scouts: look for the Works Project Administration (WPA) records for old cemeteries! This was an effort during the depression to pay people to transcribe gravestones as their job when no one had a job. It was done in the mid 1930s. See if your cemetery was transcribed back then. Many of the stomas that ate unreadable today were readable back then. Your local library may have the records in their reference section!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.