Today is Memorial Day in the US.
Over the weekend, flags fly at half-mast, graves are decorated with flowers and family members pay their respects at national cemeteries. Ceremonies honoring fallen soldiers - of all wars and conflicts - take place across the country.
In many places, Boy Scout Troops - as part of their commitment to community service - place flags on each soldier’s grave.
See below two newspaper articles on the holiday, from the New York Sun (May 31, 1872) and the Hawaiian Gazette (May 30, 1911). Click on each article image to see the original page from the Library of Congress' Chronicling America site, and learn more.
The day was first observed in 1865 to remember fallen Civil War soldiers; it was then called Decoration Day.
The New England Historical and Genealogical Society (NEHGS) posted two articles on preservation of family history resources on its blog at AmericanAncestors.com.
Readers might wonder why I seem to focus on preservation issues. After years of living in two US states plagued by earthquakes, fires, mud slides or hurricanes and flooding, I tend to be somewhat protective of my research.
Could those precious photos be replaced? Would I have the time to once again reconstruct years of work?
This week we report on why people want to gather more information via digital preservation, a hidden cemetery in Indiana, a photo collection of a Japanese-American internment camp in Wyoming, and a slew of events and classes in Minnesota, Kentucky, Ohio and Canada.
We offered two views of digital preservation in last week’s North American News edition.
As promised, writer Mike Ashenfelder of the Library of Congress’ preservation blog - Signal - has provided Part 2 of his first post..
In Part 1, he wrote that“relational databases are the engines that drive digital genealogy. Databases make it possible to quickly search through enormous quantities of records, find the person you’re looking for and discover related people and events. And when institutions collaborate and share databases, statistical information becomes enriched.”
In Part 2, he addresses why modern genealogists want to gather this information.
“Brian Lambkin, director of the Centre for Migration Studies, said that adding multimedia, geospatial data and more, enriches the biographical information about a person. “Potentially there’s a biography to be written about every single individual,” said Lambkin.”
This is what researchers call “adding flesh to the bones.” Family history research is much more than merely a dry list of names and dates. We want to know more about our ancestors and this includes all aspects of their lives. Ashenfelder’s post provides numerous examples of projects and sites that try to do just that.
In my experience I’ve found that no two cemeteries are alike. Similarly, every grave and gravestone has it’s own story too.
The more time you spend in cemeteries the more you start to look at them differently – from that sad place you probably went to for the first time when an elderly family member passed away, to a peaceful place of beauty to, as you delve deeper into family history, a trove of information about people you’re researching and people in general as well.
And as you spend more time around them you start to find yourself becoming an aficionado of graves and cemeteries which is why a recent blog post over at GraveStoned caught my eye.
Green Oasis in Brooklyn
Recently I spoke with Paul Schwartz of Planned Television Arts, a media publicity company representing Evergreens Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. This verdant cemetery has been labeled a National Historic Landmark and dubbed an 'oasis for the refreshment of the city's soul and body' in the recently published book Green Oasis in Brooklyn. A green oasis it is; the grounds meander 225 manicured acres, jogging back and forth between the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. The cemetery was designed by influential period architects, Alexander Jackson Davis and Andrew Jackson Downing in 1849 as a non-sectarian burial ground.