To the editor:
As Claudia J. Biddle mentioned in her April 3 letter, there is a need to preserve and record cemetery data. The upcoming Memorial Day, observed this year on May 26, is the perfect time to do so. In addition to programs honoring our brave men and women who answered the call to service for their country, many people will visit a cemetery and burial sites of their loved ones. Tombstones and monuments are cleaned and flowers placed in memory of loved ones.
But a walk through almost any cemetery will reveal older monuments and markers that are no longer legible. Fortunately, some of the information has been preserved by earlier generations, namely the WPA Grave Transcription Project. The Story County cemetery results are available at the Story County Gen Website.
In addition, members of the Story County Genealogical Society walked and recorded all tombstone transcriptions in Story County cemeteries in 1992. Copies are available at many of the public libraries in Story County.
Of course, that information does not contain data from monuments erected after the early 1990s. But the good news is the digital age has come to the rescue in the form of Findagrave.com and BillionGraves.com. Both of these online sites contain volunteer-contributed images of tombstones.
Another site is the Iowa Gravestone Photo Project where volunteers have shared photographs of gravestones. This is part of a nationwide project, coordinated by volunteers at the state level.
The work is far from complete, however, and that is where visitors to a cemetery can help preserve history. When you go to visit the resting places of your loved ones, consider taking a digital picture of their monuments, as well as the surrounding ones, and submitting the pictures to Findagrave.com, BillionGraves.com or the Iowa Gravestone Project (http://iowagravestones.org). The websites give instructions and there is no charge.
Future generations will thank you for helping to preserve the history of their loved ones.
Mary J. Lohr, past president
Story County Genealogical Society