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# Monday, September 22, 2008
Don't Get Arrested Doing A Tombstone Rubbing
Posted by Diane

Q. A cemetery-sleuthing FamilyTreeMagazine.com Forum member, surprised to learn tombstone rubbings are prohibited in some areas, asked for more information about where that’s the case.

A. A state, county, municipality or a cemetery itself can set rules regarding tombstone rubbings.

Historic cemeteries and those popular with tourists, such as Boston’s Old Granary (final resting place for many Revolutionary War heroes), often prohibit tombstone rubbings because of the potential damage. Repeated rubbings of a stone, even when done properly, cause deterioration over time.

Similarly, Department of Veterans Affairs national cemeteries also do not authorize gravestone rubbings. (You can search burials in VA cemeteries using the Nationwide Gravesite Locator.)

You also may find rubbings aren’t prohibited, but regulated. In Andover, Mass., for example, Spring Grove Cemetery requires visitors to register with the foreman before doing a rubbing.

New Hampshire law states “No person shall make gravestone rubbings in any municipal cemetery or burial ground without first obtaining the written permission of the town selectmen or the mayor of a city … [who] will ascertain to the best of their ability that the person making the request knows the proper precautions.”

Before you visit a cemetery to do a rubbing, call ahead to see if it's permitted. Most cemetery Web sites I checked didn't address the issue; I’d try to talk to a person just to be safe.

For some cemeteries, it’s not clear whom to call. Try the local municipal government or parks department, which may take over maintenance once the family or oganization that established a cemetery is gone. A local genealogical or historical society might be able to give helpful information, too.

Before visiting a cemetery located on private property—common in rural areas—check cemetery access laws to ensure you’re not trespassing. You may have to go during certain hours or get permission from the landowner to cross his property.

Even when tombstone rubbings are allowed, use common sense: If a stone is unsteady, crumbling or fragile, don’t take a rubbing—take a picture and make a transcription instead.

See more gravestone rubbing dos and don'ts  on the Association for Gravestone Studies Web site.


cemeteries
Monday, September 22, 2008 6:06:22 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Help! My Ancestor's Birth Record Is Restricted
Posted by Diane

Q. I’m having difficulties getting a relative’s birth records because I live in a state that restricts vital records. I’m not an immediate family member, and thus not entitled to the record. Any suggestions?

A. You don’t say about when the ancestor was born, but many states loosen restrictions on records created more than 75 or 100 years ago. So first, double-check the rules where your ancestor was born. If older certificates are unrestricted, you may need to request the record from the state archives. Try these ideas, too:
  • Try to find someone who is a qualified family member of the person in the record, and ask if he or she will request it for you (or perhaps the person already has a copy). A relative may be able to help you connect with the person, or you can post to surname message boards.
  • See if you can get an uncertified copy of the record. Unlike a certified copy, an uncertified copy can’t be used for official purposes such as identification. The uncertified record also may contain a bit less information.
  • Look for a birth index in print, online or on microfilm. It’ll certainly have less information than the full record, but you can confirm the person’s name, place and date of birth, and maybe the parents’ names. To find printed or microfilmed indexes, check with the state archives and a local library. Also, run a place search of the FamilySearch catalog on the county of birth, then look for a vital records heading. You can go to your nearest Family History Center to rent the microfilm.
  • You may need to go to other sources for birth information. The person’s church may have recorded his or her baptism. Maybe there’s a family Bible entry or the newspaper announced the good news (check newspaper databases such as Ancestry.com’s or GenealogyBank’s, or visit the local library for microfilmed papers).
  • Military records, death certificates, cemetery records and the Social Security Death Index can provide birthplaces and dates. Remember that these records, created long after a person’s birth, are more likely to contain errors than a birth certificate.
See the December 2006 Family Tree Magazine for more help finding ancestors’ birth records. If you have more tips, click Comment to post them.


birth/death records | US roots
Wednesday, September 10, 2008 10:09:11 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [0]