Friday, October 18, 2013

Last Night's Cemetery Program

We had a great turnout last night for our October evening meeting but not all of our members were able to attend. For those not in attendance, all I can say is "you missed a good one!"

Gail Hershenzon is a volunteer at the Woodmere Cemetery in Detroit, Michigan. Gail has spent years creating and maintaining the website which contains searchable records from Woodmere. She presented the program, "Dos and Don'ts of Cemetery Research."

The program was informative and entertaining. Rather than simply telling us what we should and shouldn't do when writing, emailing, or visiting cemeteries, Gail shared with us actual letters, emails, and personal experiences dealing with sometimes rude genealogists. Though many of the examples elicited laughter, the moral of the talk came through clearly - "we must be especially nice to make up for the person who may have come before us."

When writing - letter or email:

  • be concise (the researcher doesn't need to know everything about your ancestors or your research)
  • use proper grammar and spelling
  • provide as much detail about the individual request as possible (full name, date of birth, date of death)
  • ask for no more than five (preferably three) look-ups at a time
  • be polite (use please and thank you)
  • included a SASE with all letters and use reasonable stationery - the back of a napkin or envelope is not acceptable.
When visiting:

  • call ahead to ascertain office hours and the cemetery's procedure for in-person requests
  • be cognizant of the fact that cemeteries are businesses and current work must come first for employees
  • be especially polite, nice, and patient

Thank you, Gail, for a fun evening and I know we'll all try to take you advice!

~ Becky

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