AncestorNews: Cemetery Photos from Afar

By Nancy Hendrickson Premium

Over the past several months, I’ve had the opportunity to take tombstone photos for family researchers. Oftentimes, we live hundreds or thousands of miles away from where our ancestors lived, and traveling to get photos of the old homestead or cemetery can be difficult. Thankfully, there are hundreds of volunteers on the Internet who have offered to take cemetery photos in their hometown. I’m one of them.

Here’s how it works. Go to one of the cemetery photos sites listed below, and see if there is a volunteer in the town where your ancestor is buried. Some volunteers will travel to any cemetery within a county; others will take photos in a specific city. Volunteers note the types of photo they’ll take (print, slide, digital) and any costs involved. Most often, volunteers will charge you only for the cost of the film and developing.

For example, I will take headstone photos at any cemetery in San Diego County, using film or digital format. In all instances, people have requested that I take digital photos and e-mail them. When I go to the cemetery, I take several pictures so the person can get a good feel for where an ancestor is buried. For example, in a photo set I did a few months ago at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, I shot pictures of the entrance gate, the flag, the headstone, the surrounding area and a view standing behind the headstone, across the cemetery and out to the ocean.

Headstone photo projects are one more instance of how online genealogists help each other. Why not consider volunteering?

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&#149 Cemetery Mailing Lists

Nancy Hendrickson is a contributing editor for Family Tree Magazine. She also is a family historian, freelance writer and the author of two astronomy books. Her Web site is at E-mail her at