by Steve Paul Johnson, April 7, 2000
The HeadstoneHunter brings together genealogists wishing to
obtain photographs of ancestors' tombstones, and volunteer photographers
willing to travel to cemeteries.
Obtaining a photograph of an ancestor's grave is often a common
task in assembling a genealogy, both because the tombstone may contain
useful information, and because seeing the grave is perhaps the
closest one can get to "meeting" their ancestors. HeadstoneHunter.com
is a new website created to join those in need of obtaining a photograph
with those who are willing to take the photograph.
The site, which just recently debuted on April 5, 2000, is the
creation of Lee Freeman and a partner. "The idea came about from
watching my wife work on genealogy research projects - looking for
genealogy documentation", says Freeman. "There are usually available
means to obtain records, such as wills, birth certificates, death
certificates, obits, marriage licenses, etc., but the mechanics
of trying to obtain information from a cemetery were difficult".
Thus, HeadstoneHunter.com was born out of the need to help genealogists
obtain cemetery information.
People helping people is exactly what Freeman saw among genealogists
on the Internet, and chose to channel that quality into obtaining
cemetery records. Says Freeman, "The feeling was that the 'Internet
Genealogy Community' is fairly accustomed to responding to requests
for help from other genealogists on the net, so why not create a
site that caters to individuals that (a) are searching for headstone
information and (b) those that are able to do some leg work. "
|Screenshot of the Headstone Request database. Click to enlarge.
The site uses a database of "Headstone Requests". Anyone who is
in need of a cemetery record can add a request to the database.
Volunteers who are willing to do the research will browse the database,
select a request, and begin the work. When the volunteer is able
to capture a photograph of the desired tombstone, he or she contacts
the person who submitted the request.
Headstone requests are submitted using an online form. The form
asks for basic information such as the decedent's name, dates of
birth and death, the name and location of the cemetery (if known),
and a comment about the request.
When volunteers browse the database, they will see a listing of
requests sorted geographically by country, state, and city, and
the date the request was made. Volunteers can click a request to
view the details.
|Screenshot of the details of a Headstone Request. Click to
In addition to posting a request to the database, one can browse
a list of volunteers and contact them directly. The list is also
sorted geographically by country, state, and city. Clicking a record
will display the details of that volunteer.
Anyone can become a volunteer by filling out an online form. You
are asked to enter the geographic location that you are willing
to travel, your e-mail address, and some comments.
In addition, HeadstoneHunter.com offers a page on tombstone symbolism
along with their meanings. In some cases, photographs of the symbols
are provided. There is also a page providing photography tips.
HeadstoneHunter.com is actually quite similar to Cemetery
Photos. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is that
with HeadstoneHunter.com, people submit requests into a database,
whereas with Cemetery Photos, people submit requests to a mailing
list. The two sites both allow people to view a list of vounteers
to contact directly.
Being that it debuted just this week, only a handful of requests
and volunteers have been recorded. However, the numbers should pick
up quickly as people are always in need of tombstone photographs.
HeadstoneHunter.com appears to be an excellent place for genealogists
and volunteers to interact. Says Freeman, "That was the idea behind
the site -- bring two groups of individuals together that could
help each other out. Make it simple, and make it free."
- Steve Paul Johnson
Steve is the editor of The Cemetery Column, and is webmaster
of Cemetery Records Online.
Visit HeadstoneHunter.com at [http://www.headstonehunter.com]