May is Cemetery Appreciation Month. Well, not officially, but your Genealogy and Local History Librarian, Tim Seman, invites you to get out and visit our local cemeteries. As a place to honor and remember the dead, cemeteries can be a trove of useful information for building family trees.
While on site, you may enjoy the beautiful landscape architecture, sculpture, and symbolic images that give rise to contemplation.
Engage with nature, and recognize that cemeteries are living spaces, too.
Bring your gardening tools, and help to clean and beautify the graves of loved ones and those that need care.
This Covid-safe activity is an opportunity to explore and preserve. So, enjoy this warming season, pay your respects, and learn about the living while walking among the dead.
Before you go….
Take a look at these sources that discuss everything from behaving properly to best practices for cleaning and preserving headstones.
Some of our local cemeteries have searchable online tools for finding graves. Otherwise, please phone or otherwise contact any cemetery or related church for assistance.
These essential resources will help you to understand the history and nature of cemeteries and graveyards, including the surprisingly numerous types of records available for genealogy. Please note that, while Find A Grave is an effective social media tool for locating graves, everyone who is listed was intentionally added by a researcher or “graver.” Not everyone buried at a cemetery will be in Find A Grave. The good news is that you, too, can obtain a free account and create Find A Grave files.
Cemeteries are in varying stages of decay, receiving ongoing care and maintenance depending on a range of financial and cultural factors. Some are abandoned, forgotten or desecrated. This dismay is partly rooted in life’s circumstances. The city’s poor or those without support from the living were buried in potter’s fields or on government lands, where the value of real estate ventures bypassed decency and, perhaps, Ohio law. For good and ill, cemeteries reflect a community’s resources and values. Below are links that will share details of three important local examples.
Tim Seman has worked in archives and libraries from Washington, D.C. to Youngstown, spanning more than thirty years. A staunch abolitionist vegan, Tim shares life with a multispecies family, reads broadly, writes occasionally, and enjoys cooking and marksmanship. Contact him at email@example.com