25 July 2011

Meeting Up for Cemetery Mapping

Our cemetery mapping trip celebrating Utah's Pioneer Day was a definite success: American Fork Cemetery is now 2402 images richer. A small group of 15 BillionGraves contributors gathered in the cemetery and in an hour or so had recorded over a third of the grounds. Some people stopped by after a weekend bike ride; others came from the next valley over to help us map the history the cemetery had to offer.

Our awesome mappers (minus some who had to leave early and me,
because I'm taking the photo and I'm not nearly as
awesome as they are).

Finn (a transcriber) sweeps a stone before
I take a photo.
Not everyone who came had a smartphone, but even those who weren't snapping photos made it faster and easier to record American Fork's headstones. One transcriber brought a broom to help clear the headstones to ensure he'd have good photos that were easy to transcribe when he went home. Others were able to hold up blankets or other props to help fabricate good lighting for each headstone.

My mother holds up a blanket so I can get a good photo.
Since we did our mapping in the morning, many of the headstones had ideal light. However, a few of them ended up with partial shadows cast by trees or other less-than-desirable circumstances, so we made our own lighting using some basics that I always keep in my car. (I've recommended multiple times that you avoid casting shadows, but that is mostly to avoid partial shadows, which can toy with your photo's contrast and make it difficult to read. We used a blanket I keep in my car's back seat to cast complete shadows when a headstone was under a tree or something else immovable.)

The props we found most useful were my blanket and our transcriber friend's broom, but I would have liked to have a powerful flashlight. Some light-colored stones didn't have much contrast on the lettering, and a mirror or flashlight could have targeted some light at just the right angle to bring out the words.

One other hiccup we ran into was sprinklers. They turned on partway through our mapping, but a few intrepid photo collectors dodged them to get the last of their photos.

After mapping out our 2400 photos, we indulged in some delicious bagels for breakfast. All in all, a good event. It also helped us celebrate Pioneer Day (a Utah holiday) because we were able to find the graves of some of those we were celebrating. Pioneer Day celebrates those who trekked across America's Great Plains to settle in Utah. Many of these pioneers have commemorative plaques affixed to their headstones. The plaques were created in 1997 for the sesquicentennial celebration of the journey (the migration began in 1847, though it continued for years afterwards), so the plaques say "Faith in Every Footstep, 1847-1997." Finding these pioneer headstones and recording them on BillionGraves was the perfect way to commemorate their journey.

We also discovered something none of us had known about: American Fork's Heritage Pageant, which takes place in the cemetery among those the pageant strives to remember. The pageant participants were setting up for a practice session while we were visiting. You learn the most interesting things in cemeteries!

Those of us at the American Fork Cemetery were hardly the only ones out mapping headstone photos this weekend. I said I'd like to see what the rest of you could collect, and you delivered. There were thousands of uploads this weekend alone.

517 in Mount Pleasant Cemetery (Gravette, Arkansas, USA)
449 in Alpine Cemetery (Alpine, Utah, USA)
155 in Maple Grove (Ovid, Michigan, USA)
99 in Gunnarsnäs (Mellerud, Västra Götland, Sweden)
87 in Putnam Cemetery (Sciota, Michigan, USA)
86 in Rexburg Cemetery (Rexburg, Idaho, USA)
83 in Lilley Grave Cemetery (Garberville) (Garberville, California, USA)
80 in Loudon Park Cemetery (Baltimore, Maryland, USA)
74 in Maclean Lawn Cemetery (Townsend, New South Wales, Australia)
74 in Jane Cemetery (White Rock, Missouri, USA)
58 in Old Saint James Cemetery (Leesburg, Virginia, USA)
57 in Richmond City Cemetery (Richmond, Utah, USA)
26 in Rigby Pioneer Cemetery (Rigby, Idaho, USA)
23 in Hollisterville Cemetery (Salem, Pennsylvania, USA)
21 in Maclean Cemetery (Maclean, New South Wales, Australia)
21 in Mineral Spring Cemetery (Pawtucket, Rhode Island, USA)
12 in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery (San Antonio, Texas, USA)
11 in Bountiful Memorial Park (Bountiful, Utah, USA)
6 in Farstorp (Hässleholm Municipality, Skåne, Sweden)
6 in Hackett Cemetery (Dearborn, Missouri, USA)
12 in the Sons of Israel Cemetery / Evergreen Cemetery / The Shrine of Remembrance Mausoleum area (Colorado Spring, Colorado, USA)
3 in Platte City Cemetery (Carroll, Missouri, USA)
2 in Bendle Cemetery (Flushing, Michigan, USA)
2 in Blumfield Cemetery (Reese, Michigan, USA)
1 in Brookside Cemetery (Fairgrove, Michigan, USA)

Thanks for all your contributions, everyone!