Friday, September 15, 2006

It’s My Party and I’ll Blog If I Want To

Welcome to the Digital Cemetery blog where you can read about all aspects of cemeteries, cemetery research, and the current happenings in the Digital Cemetery Project. Whether you are a cemeterian, sexton, researcher, or just want to know that the heck these people like to talk about, this is the place for you!

What’s the point

The goal of the Digital Cemetery Project is to collect and preserve cemetery information for historical reference by creating electronic and photographic records, and making them freely available to the public. This project is beginning by digitizing the Johnson County, Kansas, cemeteries. Why Johnson County, you ask? Because that’s where I live and there’s no place like home, Dorothy!

Who cares about this stuff?

You are probably thinking that there are, at most, a handful of people with Johnson County roots who are out there researching their own genealogy and might get a kick out of the Digital Cemetery. Ding, ding, ding - you are correct! As those of us geneaologists know well, hardly anyone hires genealogists these days; we have now become a self-service society. Now, at best, researchers are asked to do an occaisional mind-numbing look-up task that can't be gotten to any other way. But with gravestones, many people want the photo to use as proof to join a hereditary society like the DAR and SUV.

So, what’s the payoff?

Is it really worth all this work just for a few genealogy seekers? You bet it is! As it turns out, the DIY genies are only a small percentage of the audience! The majority of people that dig through the cemeteries and transcription sites are not the handful looking for great great Grandmama Addams, but are the many looking for their Aunt Effie, Grandpa Jones, or their own parents or siblings! And I, personally, I’ve found no better payoff than receiving the occasional email of thanks for bringing a person’s loved one home to them.

You’ve GOT to be Kidding me!

Once upon a time families lived together in the same area, sometimes even the same homestead, for generations. But today people are mobile and more likely than not, don’t live near where their loved ones are interred. The living family may not be able to go to the cemetery, but now their loved ones can be brought home to them in transcriptions, photos, and cemetery histories, through the Digital Cemetery. And if they want to plan a pilgramage to visit their graves, they can find maps and information to help them too.

Look out!

Believe it or not, there are others out there as wacko as I am that just love cemeteries, and we're out of the closet! Some are into the symbolism, some are into the inscriptions, some are into the stone carvers, and some people just into history! You can find many such experts (and avid enthusiasts like myself) in the Association for Gravestone Studies membership.

SSDD (Same Stuff Different Day)

There is plenty to dig in to and blog about when it comes to cemeteries! Stay tuned for information about the Digital Cemetery Project. I hope you’ll join me and add your questions, thoughts, and blogs about cemeteries too.

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