My mom is moving to a retirement community very soon and has begun downsizing in earnest. She’s pragmatic about what she can and can’t bring with her, and that means a lot of things are being sold or donated. Still, there are plenty of heirlooms and keepsakes that she doesn’t want to see discarded. Even though she moved out of the family house in the late 1990s, there’s still a lot of stuff.
Her grandfather’s writing desk is going to my brother, and childhood items (baby blankets, report cards, toys, etc) are being returned to each of us. As the family historian, still more is coming into my house.
She gave me a half dozen bundles of spoons. Most of them are beautiful, but bear no marks indicating where they came from. However, there are four gems. One is a spoon with my great-grandmother Olive’s wedding year engraved on the handle. The other three are the baby spoons of my great-aunt, Beatrice Elizabeth Warner. They are dated 1910, 1913, and 1915. Aunt Bea, as I and everyone else called her, was born in Brooklyn, NY and lived for most of her life in Cranford, NJ. She was an educator, who travelled all over the world. As she never married, her niece eventually inherited a number of her things.
Now they’ve made their way to her great-niece, and I’ve begun searching for a new display case to house these treasures.
I often read comments from other researchers who lament that in the future, our ancestors won’t have the same access to genealogy-related data because everything is digital: photos are posted to Instagram or Facebook, details of an individual’s life might be on Twitter, etc. While it’s true the we don’t leave the same paper trail that some ancestors may have left, there is still a trail, and it’s accessible to a savvy researcher.
When my brother died nearly 5 years ago, one of the things I wanted to do was memorialize him on Findagrave. A kind volunteer had already added a memorial and he transferred it to me so I could manage the information, photo order, etc. That was a great start, but I wanted to preserve some of my brother’s digital footprint.
He was a regular Facebook user who posted lots of photos. I decided I wanted to have copies of all of them, and viewing each one to save to my computer would have been incredibly tedious.
Instead, I used a Chrome extension to quickly export all of his photos from his public album to a folder on my computer. Simply install the extension and then select it to begin an export of available content. You can use this pretty much anywhere there are photos on social media, including Twitter and Pinterest. It does not need to be your account, just images that are publicly available.
I was able to save 5+ years of my brother’s photos in less than 10 minutes. If his profile ever goes away, I still have the photos and this slice of his life is preserved.
His stone reads “beloved husband and father”. He was only 27 years old, and died as a result of an injury sustained at work at the Sun Ship Yard.
Today I visited the Friends Southwestern Burial Ground in Upper Darby, PA. I’d been there once before, years ago, but I don’t recall taking many photos. Today I tried to take as many as possible, and managed around 1,000 images in an hour. The high volume was largely do to the very orderly rows and similarly sized/shaped stones that are common at Quaker cemeteries.
I was intrigued to learn that Friends Southwestern began allowing Muslim burials around 2013, two years after Mount Moriah Cemetery in Philadelphia & Yeadon closed. Mount Moriah was the only place in Southeastern Pennsylvania which allowed Muslim burials, so it’s nice to know there’s another local cemetery filling this need. The nice caretaker I spoke with today indicated they’ve had about 800 Muslim burials in the last 5 years.
Of all the photos I took, this one for Abigail Scull, who died in 1867 struck me the most. It has been nearly consumed by this large tree that was likely just a small sapling when she died.
Jennie was a 26 year old dressmaker, born in Russia. She died of tuberculosis at the Chestnut Hill Home for Consumptives.
Lillian was just 17 years old when she died in 1925. I love finding stones with these old porcelain portraits, and the Jewish cemetery I visited last weekend had a bunch of them. This one stood out to me – both her pose and her outfit. I’m not related, just came across it while fulfilling request for findagrave.
At the end of November 2017 I had the privilege of visiting Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA for a whirlwind 3 day trip. This cemetery opened in 1831 and is still in operation today. My colleagues and I were fortunate to arrive on the same day a Gravestone Girls presentation on colonial headstone art, which we attended after a few hours of walking around the cemetery. The next day we returned to Mount Auburn for a tour and many more hours of cemetery walking. I managed to take about 2,500 photos—many of which were uploaded to Findagrave, but also a number of photos of the landscape and scenery as this is a truly stunning cemetery.
Mount Auburn has a handy burial search and mapping tool for those seeking interment information.