Transcribe Gravestones On Site In Cemeteries

Be sure to transcribe gravestones onsite before you leave!!!

For some of us, Spring is here! And for some of you, you’re ready to go to their nearby cemetery and snap photos for FindAGrave or BillionGraves. There is one very important tip to remember.

Transcribe the stone on the spot!

Photo by Devon Lee
Ellen S Hemler
Green Lawn Cemetery
Find A Grave Memorial #70003900

Trust me when I say, many stones do not photograph as well as you think. You bet you’re going to get home and know what the stone says when you upload it to  You’re certain it’s clear enough for transcribers at You think you’ll be able to remember it later when you edit the description of the photo for Memories.

But looking at this stone, it’s truly difficult to read in a photograph but it was easier to understand when standing in front of the organic growth covered stone in Green Lawn Cemetery.

There is a top carving above Ellen’s name. Is it a letter T or a letter I? Is it something completely different. Is this a critical clue to Ellen’s family?

The stone has a death date given and the age at time of death presented in years and days. You can calculate the birth date from this information. If you need a calculator to determine the birth date from the death date, try this handle resource Birth Date Calculator.

The hardest thing to read is what comes below the death date and length of life. It was easier to read on site as well. Now, it’s a challenge. Someone could probably read it but they’re frying a lot of brain cells to do it.

So, don’t make the same mistake I did. Slow down and record the inscriptions on the tombstones.  Use paper and pen or voice notes. If you’re able to key in the information during a bright day on your smartphone, you’ll have to share your secret with me. I can’t see my screen unless there’s some sort of shade. Thus, I use the paper and pen or voice note method.

So have fun photographing as a volunteer or while working on your family lines. Just remember this one critical tip: Transcribe On Site!

Discover the importance of transcribing what you see on a gravestone before you leave a cemetery. #photography #gravestones #genealogy
If you enjoyed this post, share it on Pinterest.
Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

8 thoughts on “Transcribe Gravestones On Site In Cemeteries

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Are you utilizing the best online genealogy research tools?
Sign up for our newsletter and receive our free guide
10 Online Genealogy Resource You Have to Try.

We take your privacy seriously! See our privacy policy click here.