Felice initially discovered Find a Grave when she was searching for a photo of her mother’s headstone. Years later, she rediscovered the site when she became more involved in genealogical research and tracing her family tree. As she traced her family tree she found “the information provided by headstones and cemetery records can be invaluable in determining family connections and verifying or disproving old family legends.”
During the pandemic, Felice had a little more time on her hands and used this to continue researching her family’s background and help others. “The more time I spent on genealogical websites, the more I realized how many people were hungry for any information about their families. So many requests centered on translating inscriptions and asking for headstone photos.” She knew how she could help and expanded transcriptions beyond her own family members. Other members upload headstone photos and they are placed in the community queue after seven days. From there, she transcribes the information from the headstone into the specific fields to create a memorial or attaches the headstone photo to an existing memorial.
In the many thousands of photos that she has transcribed she remembers some favorites. “My favorite photos are those from British cemeteries, older American cemeteries, and Jewish cemeteries around the world. I particularly enjoy seeing what information was significant to people of different eras and different locales. For example, while many modern Jewish stones provide only the deceased’s name and date of passing in Hebrew, stones from earlier eras frequently include tributes to the loved one such as, “Our learned father,” “A modest woman,” or “Our eyes brim with tears at the loss of our dear father.” Stones may include poems, acrostics, or lists of the person’s admirable qualities.
One of the most interesting headstones that I have translated was that of one Harry Gold in New Jersey.
Entirely in Yiddish and sporting two hammer and sickle carvings, the inscription refers to Mr. Gold as “our friend (could be read as comrade) and prime worker.”
As someone who enjoys studying history and sociology, I appreciate headstones that provide this window into the lives of people from different societies and circumstances.
Every person deserves to be remembered. Perpetuating the memories of those who have gone before is a kindness to them but it is also a service to the living who are able to connect with their own pasts and build their futures.”
Thank you Felice, we are appreciative of your efforts and the efforts of all Find a Grave volunteers. This work connects us as a community as we help one another and also allows people everywhere to discover information about those that have passed on.
Do you know a Find a Grave member who would make a good Volunteer of the Month? We welcome your suggestions. Please send an email with details of their work to email@example.com.