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If you have any questions on instituting your own cemetery transcription project, please contact us at teriepopp@popp.net 

Cemetery Transcription and Photograph Project:

Procedure Manual
By: Girl Scout Troop #1241
Girl Scout Council of Greater Minneapolis

            The purpose for genealogical research is to trace your family’s history and to give you a sense of who your ancestors were.

  1. Choose your cemetery.

*Decide what cemetery you would like to transcribe for your project. Consider all difficulties involved with travel and transportation.  Check to see if others have transcribed at an earlier date because some tombstones might be difficult to read.

  1. Get permission from the cemetery to transcribe and/or photograph the cemetery.

*for a private cemetery – talk to the person in charge of the cemetery to make sure that you are allowed to transcribe the tombstones and get written consent, if necessary

*for a public cemetery – contact the city to get permission

  1. Decide what day you will do the transcribing.

*Make sure that the weather is permitting and you allow yourself enough time, it may take a couple hours.

  1. Decide what to do with the information once you have obtained it.

*for example, you could put it on a website, make a book, etc.

  1. Locate a website to launch the information.

*Find a genealogy website that will post your information, such as www.rootsweb.com or www.usgenweb.com .

  1. Gather the materials you will need.

*Items might include: a notebook, pen, camera, possibly extra batteries for the camera, etc.  Also, you might need cleaning supplies such as a spray bottle with water.

  1. Go to the cemetery.
  2. Plan a route around the cemetery.

*Decide what path you will take when doing the project so that you will not repeat or miss any tombstones.

  1. Begin transcribing.

*Work in groups of three: One person reads the tombstone out loud, word-for-word, including punctuation and spaces. The second person listens to the person dictating and writes down exactly what is on the tombstone. The third person takes pictures of each tombstone making sure that they are easy to read.

  1. Move to the next tombstone.

*Repeat steps from number 9.

  1. Make sure that you have transcribed all tombstones.

*Go back through and check the cemetery to make sure you have transcribed every tombstone and not missed any.

  1. Organize your information.

*If you do more than one cemetery, make sure that you separate each cemetery and make sure that it is all legible and easy to read.

  1. Type the data into the computer in alphabetical order.

*Make sure that you write each transcription exactly as it is written on the tombstone, use the same punctuation marks, tell whether there are pictures on the tombstone, and spell everything correctly. Put each transcription in the computer alphabetically by last name so that each name is easy to find.

  1. Scan or transfer the pictures into the computer.

*If you have a digital camera, just plug the camera in and transfer the pictures onto your computer. If you have a film camera, get the pictures developed and then scan them into the computer.

  1. Submit the photos and text to a website.

*once the transcriptions and photos are on your selected websites, make sure the spacing has stayed the same on the website.

  1. Organize the book.

*Make sure the text is in alphabetical order and the pictures are orderly.  Number the pages.

  1. Check to make sure there are no mistakes in the text.
  2. Print the text and pictures for the book.
  3. Make the index.

*List each name in alphabetical order and next to it list the page number of the transcription and the page number of the picture next to the name. 

  1. Bind the book.

*Take it to Kinko’s or a similar store to have it bound in one of several ways.

  1. Present the book to the organization of your choice.

*For example, Minnesota Historical Society or the historical society of the city that the cemetery is in.

Congratulations, you’re done!