Friday, August 16, 2019

Photographing and geo-locating tombstone data at St. Francis of Assisi Cemetery

Today, we were back at the St. Francis of Assisi Cemetery, continuing on our cemetery transcription project in partnership with the Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove museum. For the past two summers, we've been working with the museum to run headstone transcription workshops in the cemetery. The information gathered to date has been entered into a publicly-accessible Google spreadsheet for anyone interested in the data.  If you are doing genealogical research involving that cemetery, you can view all those records here:

This morning, a team of four (myself, LBMCOC museum manager Katie Crane, Terra Barrett, and Rachael Green) returned to test out the free app. The app, available for both Apple and Android systems, allows volunteers to photograph headstones, and then upload the photos of those memorials to the website. It is free to register and upload photos. You can transcribe photos on-site, or you can upload them without transcriptions, either for you to fill in later, or to be transcribed by website volunteers.

Each headstone creates a record, which we can then include as a link on the spreadsheet. In addition, the app geo-tags each photograph, creating a clickable map of the cemetery accessible both online and through the app itself.

As an example, here is the headstone of Seaman Thomas Kelly, which I photographed and uploaded earlier this summer:

That stone now has a record on the site:

If you look at the spreadsheet data link above, check out Marker #3, and you can see we've now included a live link to his headstone photo.

Future researchers or family members can create a free account, and add additional photos, documents, memories, or link Thomas Kelly to other family members captured on the website. If you want to visit the cemetery in person, the app/website also shows you a pin on a satellite photo of the cemetery, to help you locate it amongst the other stones.

In about 30 minutes, the four of us were able to photograph over 400 memorials, and quickly upload them. The longer work of transcribing each stone and linking them to the spreadsheet will come later, but it was impressive to see how quickly a small group of researchers can photograph and create a digital record of the cemetery and the placement of the markers.

This is where you, dear reader, can help!

The cemetery photos are all located right here. Once you log in, you can click that link, then the "volunteer" tab, and then the yellow "transcribe images" button to the right of the volunteer tab. Then, you can help out by entering the Given Name, Family Name, and birth and death dates shown in the photograph!  Help us out!

If you are involved with a cemetery documentation project, and want advice on how you could start a similar initiative in your community, give me a shout at All you need are some smartphones and volunteers! You don't need to worry about data charges either, as you can upload all the photos once you are back home, or somewhere with wifi.

- Dale Jarvis

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