White Chapel Documentation Project

Photographing White Chapel Cemetery
Photographing White Chapel Cemetery

Cemeteries.  There’s hardly anything a genealogist likes better, is there?  Cemetery documentation, either on paper or on the web, is among the most frequently consulted resources genealogists use.  There’s been a lot of great work done in Sedgwick County to document our cemeteries, and everyone doing research in the county is grateful!

But it’s not done.  Cemeteries are constantly growing, so indexes are out of date the day after they’re printed.  Websites like Find-A-Grave and BillionGraves are leading people to expect photographs as well as indexes.

We thought it might be fun to get involved as a society in the effort to document our Sedgwick County cemeteries online.  For our first cemetery documentation project, we’ve chosen to work on White Chapel Cemetery, at Oliver and 17th street, using the BillionGraves website.

Why BillionGraves?  We have several reasons.  First, we like the fact that the BillionGraves website relies heavily on GPS, which means that every time you find a record for a particular grave marker, you will see it on a map of the cemetery, making it much easier to find.  Second, we like the way they’ve implemented their app, making taking photos at the cemetery very easy.  Third, we like the way that they’ve separated the process of taking the photos from the step of transcribing the photos for the searchable index, and made it easy for different people to do each step.  And, finally, we like the fact that the simple existence of BillionGraves might encourage Ancestry.com to keep their promises to keep Find-A-Grave free and well-maintained.  (Because, of course, we also love Find-A-Grave!)

Our plan is to meet regularly at the cemetery to take photos, starting on Monday, October 6, at 10 AM.  To take photos, you will need a smart phone or tablet with a camera.  Download the BillionGraves app before you come; we can show you how to use it once you get to the cemetery.  We’ll pick a section to work on and start to work.  You can take pictures for 30 minutes or all day, whatever you like.  When most of the group wants to stop, we may stop somewhere for snacks, then head to the library to use the wifi to upload the photos to BillionGraves (of course, you can go home and use your own wifi, if you’d rather.)

Once the photos are on BillionGraves, anyone with a BillionGraves account can transcribe them for the index.  Prefer to do your genealogy volunteering in your pj’s at 2am?  Fire up the BillionGraves website and transcribe our White Chapel photos — now you’re part of the team, as well!

And what about Find-A-Grave?  Our first priority is to get the whole cemetery done in BillionGraves, but we have members who are going to be working on the White Chapel section of Find-A-Grave as well, so we hope that when we’re all done, both cemeteries are completely documented on both sites.  We’ll also probably be backing up our photos, so if both sites go out of business in the future, we still have a complete set at the library.