Monthly Archives: October 2008

Resource – Findagrave.com

Findagrave.com has got to be one of best resources for finding burial/cemetery information. When I first joined the site (over three years ago), information was spotty for the area of Pennsylvania where I research. That isn’t the case anymore! There are several very active contributors in southeastern PA. New memorials are constantly being added. If you search the site and don’t find what you are looking for, go back and try again in a couple of weeks. You may be pleasantly surprised. I know that I personally have quite a backlog of information to enter and have been trying to work on it as time permits.

When I visit an area cemetery, particularly small and medium-sized ones, I tend to walk through the entire cemetery, looking for tombstones with surnames I recognize. I get pictures of those tombstones and sometimes the surrounding ones because often times family members tend to be buried close by. When I get back home, I load the pictures on my computer and go through them, looking to see if I have the people in my database. Since it’s necessary to crop and resize the pictures before uploading them to findagrave, I must admit that I don’t always get to that in a timely manner.

With a few exceptions, I mostly add memorials for people who are in my database. This means that I can sometimes add more specific information. For example, if the tombstone only has the year of birth and death, I may have the month and day from other sources, so I can add that in. I also try to identify the parents and spouse(s), as well as uploading the tombstone photo. Typically I haven’t added much additional biographical information, but I am thinking I may try to do better in that area.

I have recently started using the FastStone Image Editor/Viewer for cropping and batch resizing of the tombstone images that I upload. I will write more about that in another post.

Resource – Family Search Pilot Site

A great (relatively new) resource for genealogy data is the new LDS site, which can be found at http://pilot.familysearch.org/recordsearch/start.html. It contains records that volunteers have been indexing the last year or so. Two of my favorite databases on that site are the Philadelphia Death Records and the Philadelphia Marriage Index.

The Philadelphia Death Record database is indexed by the decedent as well as other names that may appear on the certificate – usually parents. I have found a few cases where I believe the indexer may have mis-read the name, but generally the index is very good. One thing that is particularly nice about this database is that with one click you can copy the transcribed information to your computer’s clipboard. I like to do this and paste it into the source text field of my genealogy program. There are also images for most of the records. You can view them online and also download them to you computer if you choose.

The database includes records from the years 1803-1915. This, of course, pre-dates the time when the state of Pennsylvania officially required death certificates. Some of the early records are actually cemetery records, physician returns and other types of records. Occaisonally there are records of people who died elsewhere and are having the body moved to Philadelphia for burial.

This database is a great resource. You should definitely check it out if you are researching families that lived in the Philadelphia area during the stated time period. (I’ll have more on the Philadelphia Marriage Index database in another post.)