Thursday, February 26, 2009

Grave Mappers Needs 50 Participants for a Test Cemetery Mapping Project

At Grave Mappers, we are always looking for ways to help preserve small, obscure cemeteries and their vital records – and we are announcing a great opportunity to do just that!

Grave Mappers is honored to be asked to conduct a Test Mapping Project for Names In Stone, the cemetery maps website. The Names in Stone team is continually working to make its site more user-friendly, especially for people who want to map cemeteries. To further this effort, they are planning a test project, which will allow users to have a mapping experience and then give input into how the website might be improved.

Grave Mappers is seeking 50 people to participate in this Test Mapping Project for Names In Stone. This is an exciting opportunity for you to test the website’s mapping capabilities, and to give feedback on how it worked for you.

If you would like to participate, you will be asked to map a cemetery that contains anywhere from one to 200 graves. The project will include three steps.

1. Collect all data at the cemetery, including photos of each headstone, headstone transcriptions, and a sketch with the location of the graves in relationship to each other. (You must map the entire cemetery, not just a portion of it – so choose a cemetery that fits within the criteria and that you will have time to complete.)

2. Create the cemetery map on the Names In Stone website; then add each individual grave to the map along with the headstone data and photo.

3. Fill out a post-mapping questionnaire that will detail your experience as you mapped your cemetery, giving input into what worked for you, and what improvements you would like to see.

All Test Mapping Projects must be completed by May 1, so that the cemeteries can be up and running on the site before Memorial Day. (If you need more time because of weather or other concerns, please let me know.)

If you are interested in participating, please send an email to Include your name, email address, and the city, state, province, or country where you live. You will be sent a confirmation email giving you specific instructions on conducting your mapping project.

This is a great opportunity to help in the preservation of the records of small cemeteries. We hope you will join us!

All screenshots used by permission from Names In Stone.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Something New At GRAVE MAPPERS

When the new website, Names in Stone, launched back in December, we at Grave Mappers were thrilled. What a great new way to preserve cemetery records! We liked the idea of doing our part to get the word out and help other cemetery lovers see what an excellent new resource it is.

At the Grave Mappers blog, we have attempted to let people know about Names in Stone and give helpful mapping tips and hints to help other mappers get started creating their own interactive cemetery maps.

Now the team at Names in Stone is starting their own blog!

This new blog will launch on March 15 - and you will be able to access it from the Names in Stone website. They will be giving detailed instructions on how to map cemeteries, spotlighting cemeteries on their website, answering mapping questions, and giving all sorts of helpful tips so you can get the best use out of their site.

At Grave Mappers, the time has come for us to change our focus.

We hope that the Grave Mappers blog will become a central gathering place for people who care about cemeteries and want to help preserve the priceless records found there.

Here's what you'll find at the new Grave Mappers:
  • We will publish locations of obscure, abandoned, and endangered cemeteries.
  • We will encourage the preservation of cemeteries and their records through mapping at Names in Stone (we're still big fans!) and other documentation projects, as well as through on-site restoration and clean-up work.
  • We will spotlight individuals and organizations that are making outstanding cemetery preservation efforts.
  • We will keep you updated about cemeteries in the news.

Welcome to Grave Mappers! There's something here for everyone who loves cemeteries!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How Do Cemeteries End Up in the Middle of Parking Lots?

Little family cemeteries are always in danger of the developer's bulldozer. Sometimes, the developers have an appreciation for the past and do what they can to preserve the graves that are in their way.

That's how parking lot cemeteries are created - rather than tearing out the cemetery, the developer will preserve the site, leaving a small cemetery in the middle of a movie theater parking lot, an apartment complex parking lot, a freeway interchange, or even a sports stadium parking lot!

View Larger Map

In an article at by Theo Emery - More Family Cemeteries Dying Away in the South - we can learn a little more about how development is affecting these little cemeteries.

Throughout the South, family cemeteries pepper the landscape. But as cities...radiate rapidly outward, the growth is swallowing rural land that swaddles the graves. In Tennessee alone, dozens of long-hidden cemeteries appear each year--sometimes in mid-construction--creating headaches for builders and heartaches for families of the dead. Some cemeteries are moved at landowners' expense. Those that stay sometimes become forlorn islands of green amid parking lots and suburban developments. Others are paved over or bulldozed.

For example, Stephanie at Southern Graves tells Grave Mappers of a small cemetery in Centerville, Houston County, Georgia. It's called the Gunn Family Cemetery, and she has been keeping her eye on it for quite some time now.

The little cemetery was originally in the woods, but with the passage of time and "progress," it is now right next to a strip mall. Stephanie says the stones are in bad shape, and it looks like there are some stones that are now missing. A small fence has been built around the cemetery, with "Keep Out" signs posted.

Stephanie has a video and photos of this little cemetery that you won't want to miss - check it out at Southern Graves.

As Grave Mappers, what can we do to help these endangered cemeteries?

Sometimes we are able to get into the cemetery and do clean up, preservation, and restoration work. Another thing we can do is preserve the records of these small cemeteries. There are many ways to do this - taking photos of the headstones and publishing burial listings are helpful.

A great new way to preserve the records is to create an on-line map of the cemeteries at Names in Stone. Creating a map preserves the records in a format that makes it possible for everyone to see the cemetery as it really is - who is buried next to whom. It's like a virtual walk through the cemetery. The records become searchable - so records that were previously unknown are now available for everyone to see and use for research.

Creating an online cemetery map is easy, quick, and permanent. Grave Mappers hopes you will try it - and help us preserve the records of these dying cemeteries.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mapping Question of the Day

A Grave Mapper in Illinois had a question about mapping cemeteries on Names in Stone that we all might run into.

Question: How do you map the grave for two people who have a double headstone?

Answer: When you are mapping your cemetery, you want to give every person their own grave, regardless of how many people share the headstone.

For example, if William Thomas and Rebecca Thomas were married and have a double headstone, they still each have their own burial spot under that headstone. So place two graves right next to each other on the map. Then if you attach a headstone photo, you can attach the same photo of the double headstone to each grave.

If any of you have questions as you are mapping cemeteries, don't hesitate to ask. Chances are, there is somebody out there with the same question that you have!