The merits of using Cemetery Transcription publications in conjunction with online computer research

Submitted by Brenda Krauter

I recently purchased a Cemetery Transcription publication originally produced in 1989.

I have noticed that there seems to be a general feeling that cemetery transcription publications are now more or less obsolete since the advent of the internet and more and more cemeteries and tombstone photos being available online.

While I agree that being able to view the cemetery information and tombstone photos online is a wonderful asset for research, there are also drawbacks which make the “old fashioned paper” cemetery transcription publications invaluable.  Numerous tombstone photos online are difficult to read as the tombstones have eroded over time and many cemeteries have unfortunately been subjected to vandalism.  As well, it is almost impossible to tell from the online tombstone photos if the tombstones are part of a family plot. 

A large number of cemetery transcription publications were produced many years ago when the tombstones were still very readable and the information was usually compiled according to cemetery plot numbers, making identification of family plots an easier task for research.  Also, I have noticed that some of the cemetery transcription publications also identify plots (and occupants) where no tombstone exists.  Unmarked graves are usually not identified with online cemetery information.  A photo of a tombstone that does not exist cannot be included with photos of the tombstones that do exist.

The fact that most cemetery transcription publications were produced many years ago is a bonus to research, not a negative, as most people doing genealogy research are not looking for recent graves.

Contrary to what the media would have us believe, all the information genealogists seek in doing research is not available online; a lot of information is still only available on paper and microfilm, leaving genealogy enthusiasts with still many avenues to explore.

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