Monday, 19 January 2015

Searching for a grave

Recently my husband joined Billion Graves, a project established to photograph and transcribe headstones in cemeteries throughout the world. If you register with the project you might choose to use the app available from the website to systematically take photographs of graves in a cemetery and upload them to the site, choose to transcribe headstones at grave sites or, when a request is made about a particular grave not in the database, visit the cemetery and upload a photo of the required grave to the website. Through worldwide community participation it is hoped to create a useful resource for family history researchers who are unable to visit all the cemeteries where their ancestors may be buried.
Anyone can search the database. Searching the online database is easy. Choose either the Person Lookup or Cemetery Lookup option. If looking for a person type in the Last Name of the person and usually the first name, and use the filters - country and state for Australia. Then click the Search button.
A list of names is provided.
If the person you want appears in the list, click on the link to view the information and view the image of the grave. If you cannot locate the name you can use the Make a Request button to suggest that an image of the grave site be added to the list.

My husband received an email request to photograph a grave at Box Hill Cemetery so on Saturday we set out to locate the grave and test the app that he had downloaded to his phone. The day before our expedition I used the website of Box Hill Cemetery to find the location of the grave. The Find a Grave or Memorial button on the front page of the website took me to the search box where I entered the details for Walter Buxton.
We then had the details of Walter Henry Buxton who was buried at Box Hill Cemetery on 22 December 1947. His grave was P-042-0004. A link to a map was also provided.
The map showed that Walter's grave was located in the Presbyterian section and the area where the grave could be located was circled.
The Section Location and Grave Location were also provided, including the names of graves near Walter's Grave.

Armed with the map we set out on our expedition. We parked at Whitehorse Reserve, where a cricket match was about to start, and then walked across the railway footbridge to the cemetery. If you happen to be accompanied by a two year old, the railway footbridge provides the opportunity to watch the trains (or toot toots) travelling to and from Box Hill at frequent intervals. Once in the cemetery we located Third Avenue and without too much difficulty found the grave. My husband took several photos of the site with his phone and I took took some with my camera as a back-up. We also made a transcription. Back home, my husband logged in to the website and uploaded the clearest image which is now online.
Clicking on the photo provides a larger image. Family members can then login and provide additional information.

Billion Graves is one of a number of online collaborative projects that should assist family history researchers. There is no charge to search and view the content of the site but additional features are available such as no ads, global mapping, a virtual walk-through etc if you wish to subscribe.

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