I bet you didn’t know that there was an exercise plan designed with the family historian in mind. Well the good news is that there is. This is not like those plans you see on television commercials, and for most of us it won’t cost you a cent. All you need are your walking shoes and a camera. The fine folks over at Find A Grave have all of the details you need. Simply go their website and sign up, then the next time you visit your cemetery of choice take you camera along with you and take pictures of the headstones. That’s all there is to it!
For those who don’t know, Find a Grave is a free website that catalogs cemeteries. Here is how it works, each cemetery has its own area on the website. You start off by adding the name of the person who is buried there, if they aren’t listed already. Then you can add photo’s of that person or their marker, as well as obituaries to their entry. You are also able to link family members together if you know the family connections. It is really quite an amazing website.
There are thousands of people already signed up and working on the project and new entries are added all the time. If you have a friend or relative who you know is buried in a cemetery and you are unable to visit that cemetery yourself, you can make a request of one of the volunteers who live in the area to take a picture for you. So consider becoming a volunteer when you sign up for your account. Volunteers are sent an email when a request in their area is made; however, there is no obligation to fulfill the request. You can simply pick and choose which ones you are able to fill and which ones you can’t. If you decide to fulfill a request but can’t locate the persons grave, you can let the requester know on the website that you did not find the grave.
My wife and I have fulfilled several requests, and have even photographed entire cemeteries and uploaded the pictures just because we were already there. I even got my father to fill requests in his area while he is out taking pictures of scenery and wildlife.
So the next time you are planning to go out and walk through your local cemetery, follow the Find a Grave exercise plan and take your camera along. You will not only fill those missing dates in your own research, but get a little exercise and help another family historian in the process.