Cemetery Main | Burial Site Information | Preservation Info | Contact Info | Cemetery Links
How To's: Documentation
Though the actual physical maintenance of a site may seem like a heavily labor intensive job, it has nothing on documentation. Documenting a site means taking into consideration every element which in any way is important to the site and its relation to other sites and the community. Documentation should include everything from conditions and descriptions of each stone to landscape design. It should also include carefully prepared maps of a site so each stone's position can be marked. Good documentation will also go beyond the material presence and explore the written record behind the cemetery. In other words, you will want to paint a picture with words so that even if the site should somehow disappear it can be "virtually" experienced through the documentation.
Above all else, it is important that the documentation be consistent from year to year and site to site. It is important to come up with a good way in which to construct this documentation and then follow that as a model for each site, making additions as necessary.
For the moment, I recommend utilizing the sample surveys provided at Texas Historical Commission or some of the various sample survey forms that are to be found in the literature on burial site preservation at the Centre Furnace Mansion.
Fortunately for Centre County, the CCGS has already taken great strides in documentation. By compiling the epitaphs of many of the gravemarkers at most of the sites throughout the county, they have constructed a permanent record of who is buried there. It will be in any documenters best interest to obtain a copy of the CCGS records of a given site before beginning.
My own experience with documentation has taught me one thing...photography is well worth it, if you have the money. With the falling price of today's digital cameras, I recommend it even more. No matter how careful of a documenter you are, unless you are a trained artist you won't be able to describe the subtleties of some of the carvings in words alone. This becomes particularly important when studying the finer details necessary when examing the carvers and makers of the stones.
There is also a guide to photographing Burial Sites and Gravestones available at the Centre Furnace Mansion. This is highly recommended reading, since photographing upright flat objects in daylight is a difficult task.
Examining the "paper-trail" which was left behind by the site is also
a good way to add important details about a site. Finding out its
available history, when the property was originally bought and sold through
any land deeds or wills, examination of old newspapers and diaries of the
area for mentions of the site, all provide a more comprehensive background
of the historical presence of the site.