Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Using Find-A-Grave for Baptist History Preservation

Render honour to whom honour is due.
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour…
…these stones shall be for a memorial…

Find-A-Grave is a World Wide Web site with burial and other final disposition information, containing details about the cemeteries and the individuals buried in them. The site allows volunteer contributors from all over the world to participate in recording and preserving information such as birth, death, burial information as well as including pictures, biographies, and “links” to other family members. Find-A-Grave has a million+ contributors, according to their “About” page.

Using Find-A-Grave, Baptist history researchers can contribute to Baptist history preservation. Investigate the life of a Baptist. Find out when he or she died and where that person is buried. Add a memorial to Find-A-Grave (if a memorial does not already exist). If a memorial already exists, you can contribute pictures, biographical information and suggestions to improve the memorial. You just need to create an account and get to work.

Be aware that the general rule is to add individuals whose burial locations are known. Find-A-Grave “supports common alternative dispositions,” such as cremation, burial at sea, and body donated to medical science. “Non-cemetery burials” – it is not known where they are buried – are allowed but discouraged.

Be careful that you contribute well-researched and accurate information. It does not benefit Baptist history preservation if the information we contribute is incorrect. Check and double-check. We all make mistakes, but when mistakes are discovered, be quick to correct them.

Be thorough by adding pictures and biographical material, as well as linking to other family members. In addition to the bare minimum of birth, death, and burial information, Find-A-Grave allows pictures of the tombstone, person, and other relevant information (newspaper obituary, e.g.). There is biographical space available for telling the person’s story, and memorials can be “linked” to other family members who are on Find-A-Grave.[i]

Be gracious. Most, if not all, Find-A-Grave contributors are there because they care about genealogy, history, and remembrance. Some members are prickly pears whose way must be their way or the highway. Some members are consistently careless contributors. Do not be either of those, but be gracious to those who are.

Some Baptist preachers for whom I have been looking and have not found on Find-A-Grave include Ambrose Dudley (Kentucky), Joseph Roberts (Georgia), and Edmund Shackleford (Georgia). I have been unable to find where they are buried, but hope to one day add them to Find-A-Grave. I recently added Cyrus White (last year), one of the organizers of the General Association in Georgia in 1822; John Milton Sallee (this month), author of the Baptist novel Mabel Clement; and the Harriss Family Cemetery (last week) in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, burial location Separate Baptist preacher Samuel Harriss and his wife Lucy – which did not previously exist on Find-A-Grave.

Find-A-Grave is one more tool currently available to contribute to Baptist history preservation. Three reasons to use Find-A-Grave in connection with Baptist history preservation are: (1) It is there, (2) It is big, and (3) It is free.

[i] The memorial “owner” can link the person to their parents and spouse, but not to their children. If another Find-A-Grave member “owns” the memorial page of a child, request for such links can be made through a “suggested edit” process.

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