Introducing the Monumental Archive Project

A new online site should appeal to genealogists. It obviously is to be a competitor of BillionGraves and Find-A-Grave but, unlike the other two, the Monumental Archive Project appears to have a strong emphasis on historical research.

MonumentalArchiveProject

The Monumental Archive Project is a place to access cemetery records, collaborate on research, and discuss approaches to monuments for history, archaeology and genealogy. It is an open community, creating an open database. The project will value the work that is being done around the world by individuals, communities and academics committed to preserving and protecting these important heritage landscapes.

The following is copied-and-pasted from the Monumental Archive Project web site:

Archaeologists, historians, genealogists, community groups, and cemetery enthusiasts all over the world have recognized the historical value of gravestones for studying identity, social relationships, tradition, practice and choice, grief and emotion, self-representation, symbolism, trade and craft production – the possibilities are endless.

There are a lot of people doing great work recording funerary monuments but very little access to the data afterwards. This limits historical research by restricting sample size and comparative studies, but it also results in the constant repetition of work that has already been done. A rich historical record already exists, if only it was accessible.

Goals of the Monumental Archive Project:

The Monumental Archive Project (MAP) will act as an open database of historic cemeteries to:

  1. preserve and provide free access to existing records;
  2. stimulate new research and engagement with historic cemeteries (an at-risk heritage resource);
  3. establish collaborative networks and discussions between diverse interest groups.

To use the resources, read about the collections and view or download the archives. Read our blog to see some of the stories that emerge from the records, and learn how to contribute records. Contact us to tell us about your research, to guest blog, or to access more information!

Behind the Monumental Archive Project:

Katherine Cook completed a BA in Anthropology and History and an MA in Anthropology at McMaster University. During that time, she worked with Dr. Aubrey Cannon on monumental records from Cambridgeshire, UK, and on a thesis project that used digital technology to record and reconstruct a local historic cemetery (Hamilton Cemetery, Ontario).

She completed her PhD at the University of York (UK). Her thesis employed burial grounds and commemorative monuments in the British Atlantic to explore the construction and negotiation of identity, family and community in the Caribbean between the 17th and 20th centuries.

During this time, the inaccessibility of records, the lack of sharing of resources and collaboration, and frequent redundancy in recording efforts pushed her to not only make her own database openly available, but also build a platform to make it easy for others to do the same.

This project was developed through participation in the Digital Archaeology Institute at Michigan State University.

The Monumental Archive Project may be found at http://monumentalarchiveproject.com.

 

10 Comments

This might be a place for those communities that have War memorials to document who served from that community and thereby making it more available to those that no longer live in that area. Some of that was done in Pittsburgh and while the web site is still up, it no longer can be changed.

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This further fragments research – more places to search. It would’ve been better to try to collaborate with Findagrave or billiongrave to come up with something rather than add another site to the pile of sites. As the previous comment say a site for Cenotaphs would be nice = and JUST cenotaphs. Multiplication of all these wiki type sites for research is getting obnoxious. It’ll probably end up with a membership fee eventually.

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If it’s more accurate than Findagrave, then I’m for it. I’ve recently discovered, among other things, a completely fabricated cemetery on Findagrave. Contributors now seem to think that it’s okay to speculate about where people were buried and enter birth and death dates as though the people were actually buried there. I’ve also found that some contributors are not going to cemeteries to document the gravestones but are copying from old surveys, which may or may not be accurate.

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    Why not try to work with findagrave to improve – combine efforts rather than go off and make another whose mission can be corrupted. Fix the problem rather than multiply it. Do you think that people are going to change what their “bad” ways? Accuracy is up to you and me to determine not the posted – who cares what they post. It is never a good idea to rely on other people for research unless they are sending you the primary document with reference.

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    There are inaccuracies in FAG but for those Cemeteries that I have walked, it is accurate to the best of my ability. Sure mistakes are made and they are corrected when found. It is a shame that some folks are doing as you report. I have found a number of good folks in FAG and especially those taking a picture. Some that request a photo do not seem to think they should say Thank You.

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    —> Contributors now seem to think that it’s okay to speculate about where people were buried and enter birth and death dates as though the people were actually buried there.

    One of the advantages of BillionGraves.com is that it REQUIRES a picture of the tombstone before a record can even be created. That isn’t perfect but it does solve the problems of “imaginary tombstones.”

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    “Old surveys” and the like may be all that is left that documents the existence of a grave. It is far better to err on the side of inclusion. And if a record is wrong, the crowdsourcing nature of these collaborative sites makes it possible that someone will catch the error.

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    I still have an issue with one purely fictional cemetery in Tennessee. The person who put it up still refused to take down the fictional burials despite being confronted with hard evidence that such cemetery does not exist, let alone the burials. Even the parents allegedly buried there do not exist.

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Who actually “owns” the site? Their “About” does not say. Will it be like Findagrave and at some point be sold out to the highest bidder, enriching its founder(s).

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I am also disappointed in that the effort would seem to be further diluted by siphoning off energy in yet another separate project. There are so many natural hazards facing cemeteries we have a major race against time to record them. Add in stupid vandals and poor maintenance, our dear departed deserve better!

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