Monthly Archives: August 2011

Take A Look At Comment I Received To My Original Post About Using “Flour” on Gravestones To Increase Readability of the Gravestone – Very Insightful Comment Left

Hi Everyone!

On August 15, 2011 I made a post to this blog that noted that the use of “flour” to enhance readability of gravestones was a controversial topic.

If you do not subscribe to the Posts or Comments of this blog, you may not be aware of a very nice comment that was left on that post indicating that “flour” should definitely NOT be used.

The comment was left by Mike Trinkley, Ph.D., Director, Chicora Foundation, Inc. of Columbia, SC.

To save you some time of going back to the original post, I thought I would include the comment here following in Bold and Italic:

Tony, the jury really isn’t out. It is a bad practice and here’s why. First, flour promotes the growth of lichen. Lichen damage stone by holding moisture to the stone, creating acids that attack the stone, and obscuring the stone. Second, flour does not readily wash off; instead it cakes on the stone, disfiguring it. Third, stones are not ours to treat in a cavalier manner — they belong to the families that erected them and to future generations. And fourth, there are other, equally convenient and simple, methods that do no harm. For example, using a flashlight to create a raking light across the inscription, maximizing shadows. Or using a pocket size reflector and the sun to do the same thing.
Best,
Mike Trinkley, Ph.D.
Director
Chicora Foundation, Inc.
Columbia, SC
http://www.chicora.org/cemetery-preservation.html
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Chicora-Foundation-Cemetery-Preservation/156213874399882

The comment stands well on its own.

You may want to visit the orignal blog post and see how the comment fits into the context of the entire blog post but I do think the comment from Mike is completely useful as is.

Consider using other alternative methods of enhancing the readability of gravestones as mentioned by Mike. 

Leave the flour at home and bake some cookies when you return from the cemetery!

Thanks for the comment Mike.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Take A Look At Comments I Received on My Original Post Regarding the “FREE” Access to 1940 Census Data from Ancestry.com – Insightful Comment!

Hi Everyone!

If you do not subscribe to my Posts or Comments via RSS or e-mail as part of this blog, you may perhaps not be aware of a very insightful comment left to my most recent post on August 29, 2011 about the “FREE” access to the 1940 Census data by Ancestry.com when the data becomes available from the National Archives in April 2012.

To save you some time looking for the post, I thought I would just include the text of the comment from Dr. Joel Weintraub right here.  The comment follows in Bold and Italics:

All the images for the population schedules will be released on April 2nd, 2012. If not on Ancestry, then by (or for) the National Archives. The images are indexed to location right now, down to the ED number, but not by name. It is likely that Ancestry will “roll out” name indexes as they are completed, and it probably will take at least 6 months before all the states and territories are done. In the meantime, locational tools can be used to find families on this census. For a look at all the strategies, if you have the location of your 1940 family, use our tutorial at:
http://stevemorse.org/census/quiz.php

Dr. Weintraub also emphasizes that the researcher should definitely plan on visiting the Steve Morse website at www.stevemorse.org to become familiar with the learning tools being made available for the 1940 Census data.

You may still want to re-visit the original post to see how the comment relates to the context of the original post. 

I did think the comment was helpful enough as is to stand alone as a helpful piece of information which is why I included it above.

Use the comment to remove any of the uncertainty as to what will be happening in April 2012 and take advantage of all of the Steve Morse 1940 Census Aids to allow you to get off to a roaring start on your research in April 2012.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

1940 US Census Will Be Made Available by Ancestry.com For FREE When It Will Be Released!

Hi Everyone!

I came across this good piece of news that all of you researchers should make note of regarding the release of the 1940 US Census data in April 2012.

Ancestry.com has noted that it will be making that data available both as images and indexed names FOR FREE once it is released and being made free to all to the end of 2013.

It appears that once the 1940 Census data is released in April 2012, there will be a ramp-up on a piecemeal basis for both the indexed names and the images associated with the names.  It is a little unclear that all of the images and indexes would be available instantly when the census data is released.  It just seems logical that the data will be made available in parts as aspects of indexing and image matching are completed.

It also appears that the “free” aspects of accessing the data via Ancestry.com will be available will last through the end of 2013 at which time it would appear that only Ancestry.com subscribers or libraries purchasing Ancestry Library Edition will have the data available in the data bases included with subscription.

What follows in Italics is the full press release from Ancestry.com that was posted on GeneaPress.com that you can reach at www.geneapress.com for all kind of press release information associated with genealogy:

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1940 Census To Be Free on Ancestry.com

 
PROVO, UTAH (August 17, 2011) – Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online family history resource, today announced that both the images and indexes to the 1940 U.S. Federal Census will be made free to search, browse, and explore in the United States when this important collection commences streaming onto the website in mid-April 2012.
 
When complete, more than 3.8 million original document images containing 130 million plus records will be available to search by more than 45 fields, including name, gender, race, street address, county and state, and parents’ places of birth. It will be Ancestry.com’s most comprehensively indexed set of historical records to date.
               
Ancestry.com is committing to make the 1940 Census free from release through to the end of 2013, and by doing so hopes to help more people get started exploring their family history.  As this census will be the most recent to be made publicly available, it represents the best chance for those new to family history to make that all-important first discovery.
 
“The release of the 1940 U.S. Census will be an exciting event for any American interested in learning more about their family history,” said Ancestry.com CEO Tim Sullivan. “By making this hugely important collection free to the public for an extended period, we hope to inspire a whole new generation of Americans to start researching their family history.”
 
“Ancestry.com is working to make the 1940 Census a truly unique interactive search experience…as well as the starting point to help new users easily get started on the world’s leading online family history resource.  After finding that first family connection in the 1940 Census, we believe new users will be able to make amazing discoveries by searching our 7 billion digitized historical records, exploring the 26 million family trees created on Ancestry, and collaborating with our nearly 1.7 million subscribing members. We think that 2012 is going to be a great year of discovery for all family historians.”
 
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About Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com)
 
Ancestry.com Inc. (Nasdaq: ACOM) is the world’s largest online family history resource, with nearly 1.7 million paying subscribers. More than 7 billion records have been added to the site in the past 14 years. Ancestry users have created more than 26 million family trees containing over 2.6 billion profiles. Ancestry.com has local Web sites directed at nine countries that help people discover, preserve and share their family history, including its flagship Web site at www.ancestry.com.
 
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This is great news!  It is certainly a nice gesture by Ancestry.com to make this data available for free and for such an initially long period of time through 2013.
 
It is also very nice that apparently 45 fields of information from the census data are going to be created, meaning that you will be able to search within the data through a variety of fields of information and probably multiple fields of information allowing you to really hone in on your ancestors.
 
It looks like we will all be excitedly waiting until April 2012 rolls around so we can really roll up our sleeves and start digging into more data on our ancestors that were in the US at the time of the 1940 US Census.
 
Thanks to Ancestry.com for this wonderful gesture!
 
Be patient!
 
You now know where you will be able to get this new and exciting ancestral data when it becomes available.
 
Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township Dsitrict Library
 
 

National Genealogical Society (NGS) Has Preliminary Information Available For the May 9 – 12, 2012 Annual Conference at Their Website

Hi Everyone!

I guess you can never start planning too soon for large-scale genealogical conferences.

The NGS at their website now has some preliminary information on the upcoming May 9 – 12, 2012 Annual Conference they will host in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The theme for this annual program is titled “The Ohio River – Gateway to the Western Frontier”.

You can look at the preliminary package the NGS has posted at its site in the form of a PDF about this annual conference for 2012 at:

NGS Preliminary Information Package for 2012 Annual Conference

You can also find additional background information pertaining to this upcoming conference at the NGS website at:

NGS 2012 Annual Conference Page

Don’t forget to visit the full website for the NGS to see what all they have at the site that can assist you in all aspects of your genealogy research.  You can visit the website for the NGS at:

National Genealogical Society Website

It is never too early to take out your calendar for 2012 to see how this conference would fit into your schedule.

Treat yourself at least once in a lifetime to attend one of these gala, multi-day, “learn till you burn” annual conferences put on by the National Genealogical Society.  You will not regret it!

I will provide further updates about this conference as news is received, especially when the actual programs and speaker information is made available.

Enjoy your planning!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

We Have Noticed That You Cannot Print or PDF from Within GenealogyBank When Using It From Home – We Will Be Working on A Resolution

Hi Everyone!

I recently indicated that our library added another accessible from home online genealogy database to our collection.  That database is GenealogyBank.  It is available to access from home for users that were issued their library card from the Schaumburg Township District Library.

I have been made aware that users can access this database from home with no problem, can search it and see results BUT you are NOT able to print the results or save the image as a PDF!

This is occurring whether you are accessing the database from a Windows machine or a Mac.

You can still use the database and find interesting material on your ancestors but for the time being you will not be able to print or PDF the results for your home use.

Our internal IT staff will be analyzing the problem.  I hope to report a resolution to this problem as soon as we resolve it.

I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you in the short-term.

Thanks to Bruce C. for making us aware of the problem.

I was able to confirm all of the problems myself last night from home and experienced the same issues as Bruce did.

So sit tight until we resolve this print/PDF issue but know you are still able to use the database for online searching as long as you do not try to print or PDF.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

 

Check Out 1898 – 1912 Chicago Building Permits List At ChicagoAncestors.org

Hi Everyone!

Bob K., one of our participants at our monthly genealogy programs, made me aware of a nice “tool” available from the ChicagoAncestors.org website.  ChicagoAncestors.org is a nice database created by the Newberry Library.

If you have any Chicago ancestral connections, you will definitely want to visit and use the ChicagoAncestors website that you can access at the following link:

ChicagoAncestors.org

Bob K. specifically steered me to a database at the site that covers 1898-1912 Building Permits for the City of Chicago that can be found under the “Tools” link of the website.  Look for the “Architecture and Buildings History” link under the Tools.  The database does not provide you with copies of any building permits or images, but does provide you with the ability to search the database by the name of an owner of a building that obtained a building permit during the 1898-1912 time period.

The database basically provides information on:

  • Owner’s Name
  • Street Address
  • Architect’s Name
  • Date of Issue (I think this is the Date of Issue of the Journal, not Date of Issue of the Permit?  This is unclear to me)
  • Page Number Where Found in Journal

The database also allows you to search by the name of an architect involved in the process (like for building a new building) or by street name to see what building had permits issued on a certain date along a certain street.

The data was obtained from a journal geared towards architects and contractors titled American Contractor.

Bob K. actually had an ancestor that was an architect who turned out to be the architect used by my grandfather when he had a 3 flat built in Chicago in 1906!

As they say, “Small World”!

So if you have any Chicago ancestral connection this is a nice database to play with and see if any ancestors living in Chicago at this time may have needed a building permit.

One thing to be aware of when using this database is that the time period covered is right at the time period when Chicago underwent a complete and total street numbering change in 1909.  An address you know now may not be the address known then, but it will turn out to be same building once you account for the 1909 Chicago street number change!  Your ancestor did not move in this case, the street number changed.

My own grandfather’s entry in this database shows a different address than I knew personally the location to be.  That is because the permit was issued in 1906 prior to the street number change, but I know for a fact the building was the one I grew up in  with a different address than the permit shows!

You can look at this neat database at the following location:

1898 – 1912 Chicago Building Permit Index List from the “American Contractor”

You may be pleasantly surprised as to what you might uncover in this database for any of your Chicago ancestors during this time period involved.

Thanks again to Bob K. for making me aware of this database and for making me aware that although we are not blood related (yet!)  that we have through our own grandparents a connection back to 1906!

Check out this database and all that exists under the umbrella of the ChicagoAncestors. org website for researching your Chicago ancestors by accessing the links above.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Northwest Suburban Council of Genealogists (NWSCG) Has Finalized More of Their Programs for 2011 – 2012

Hi Everyone!

I have noticed that the Northwest Suburban Council of Genealogists (NWSCG) has finalized many more of their upcoming programs for the 2011 – 2012 “genealogy season” of programs they offer.

I have previously posted information about the society and their Change of Day, Change of Time and Change of Location they have implemented for their programs.

They will no longer be meeting at the Forest View Educational Center on the 3rd Tuesday evening at 7:30 PM during the months of September to May in Arlington Heights.

Instead the society will be meeting at the Arlington Heights Senior Center on the first Saturday of each month during the months of September through May starting at 10:00 AM.  There will be a small interactive session of those seeking help at 9:30 AM prior to the program.  The Senior Center is located at 1801 W. Central Road in Arlington Heights, IL

You can always visit the society website directly to find out news, events and activities of the society and all other good things they have at their website.  You can visit them at:

Northwest Suburban Council of Genealogists

The following are now the programs the society has indicated will occur for the 2011 – 2012 “genealogy season”.

  • October 1, 2011 – World War II and Women, Too – Kathryn Barrett 
  • November 5, 2011 – Polished Gems: Property Records, Cook County, Illinois – Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG(sm),
  • January 7, 2012 – Organizing and Writing Your Family History – Steve Szabados
  • February 4, 2012 – Investigating Resources at ChicagoAncestors.org- Sandra Trapp
  • March 3, 2012 – TBD
  • April 7, 2012 – Searching for Great Grandpa – Find Your Union Soldier – Jerry Allen
  • May 5, 2012 – TBD

Mark your calendars to participate in the programs of the society on their new meeting day, meeting time and meeting location!

I will fill you in when the society fills out the two programs indicated as “To Be Determined”.

Plan to attend programs of interest with the society now.  Mark your calendar!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Summary of Our Recent August 9, 2011 Genealogy Program with Ginger Frere on the Topic of Searching Electronic Databases (Speaker’s PDF Handout Included)

Hi Everyone!

Here is a summary of our most recent Genealogy Program at the Schaumburg Township District Library on Tuesday evening, August 9, 2011.  Our guest speaker for the evening was Ginger Frere.  Ginger presented a program titled “Searching Electronic Databases”.

Ginger was kind enough to allow me to post her handout she provided at the program onto this blog post.  You can access this handout here:

August 9, 2011 “Searching Electronic Databases” Presentation Handout from Ginger Frere

We had a great turnout for this late-Summer program.  We had 72 participants in attendance!  Whenever Ginger makes a speaking appearance at our library, attendance really jumps up.  Ginger, I hope you realize how popular you are and how good your programs are!!

Our Speaker For The Evening Was Ginger Frere

I started the program at 7:30 PM with the introduction of new participants.  We had an incredible 13 new participants who shared with all of us their name, their description of the their newness to genealogy and some of the surnames they were researching.  Each new participant received a Welcome package from me with some good tips on how to move forward on their research journey using a variety of resources both within and outside our library.

I indicated to the group that I would like to forego reviewing some of the handout material so that we could get to our speaker by 7:45 PM rather than 8:00 PM and allow more un-rushed time after the speaker should anyone want to talk to me or the speaker.  Because the material is all available online everyone can take a deeper look at it on their own.  I just briefly reviewed some upcoming program dates and topics for a variety of groups in the area.

 You can easily find all of our monthly library genealogy “Newsletters” in this blog along the right sidebar.  You can also find all of our monthly library genealogy “Handouts” in this blog along the right sidebar.  Take some time to look at the current issues as well as the past ones.  These are PDF files so you can look at them from the within the blog or download them to your own computer.  All are filled with electronic bookmarks, hyperlinks, internet URL links for you to quickly find material and to link to topics of interest on the internet.  That is the beauty of these electronic files!

Ginger Offered Many Important Points Not Wanting To Be Missed By Those In Attendance

Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have on the material contained in the Newsletter or the Handout material.

Ginger then started her presentation at around 8:00 PM, a little later than I had hoped, but this was due to the high amount of new participants I had introduce themselves to all of us.  Starting a little later was fine as long as we could all hear from our new participants.

Please take a good look at the handout higher up in this post that Ginger allowed to include in this post.  It is a good guide to help you in your own use of online databases.  Give the suggestions provided by Ginger a try.  It still may not be easy but then again where has genealogy research ever been that easy!!

Ginger indicated that there are generally 4 types of databases to search.  These would be:

    • Bibliographic
    • Full Text
    • Abstract
    • Data

One Of The Slides In Ginger's Presentation On Using Online Databases

    Think of bibliographic like a library online catalog in which you are trying to find some book material.

Think of full text databases as the Chicago Tribune Historical Archive in which you may be researching newspapers that have been digitized and have an all word index because the full text of the paper is in the database.

Think of abstract databases as a short version of full text.  Perhaps only a small summary of a full text item is what has been “abstracted”.  Your searching of these abstracts will only give you results if your search term word is contained in the abstract.  If you get hits as abstracts you will have the hope that the full text of the material may contain further information for you to discover.

The Data Database is what we all like to search to find the details on our ancestors.  Think of the Census data from Ancestry.com.  Think of graves found in FindAGrave.  Each of these databases may have different methods to search them because the data contained in each differs from each.

Our Guest Speaker Ginger Frere During Her Presentation

Ginger provided some great background material on becoming aware of how to best access material in a database.  She also indicated how important it is to know something about the database in general.  Very often this information is contained in a text description from the provider of the database in text format as a general description of the material.  Discover such things as:

  • Who Created the Database?
  • What’s Included?
  • How Often Is It Updated?
  • What Features Does It Provide?

Just knowing some of the basics like the above can often answer why you may not have been having any successful discoveries from the database.  If the database contains birth information up until 1875 and your grandfather was born in 1882 then that would explain why you are not finding information on your grandfather.  If the database is only 7% completed, that may explain why you are not finding anything and will need to return at a future date to try again.  If the database is intended to have a certain kind of information covering all Illinois counties but Cook County is not yet included, that may explain why you are not finding your Cook County ancestors.

Note Taking Was Certainly The Thing To Do During Ginger's Presentation

Know the database you are searching and what is in it and what is not in it when you are searching.

Ginger also gave us some background on tools that are available to use within the database that we often do not take advantage of.  Tools such as Plurals, Truncations and Wildcards.  Again, know the database and the Tools that are available for using or are not available.  A good database provider will indicate all of this at the beginning of the database or under a “help” link that will give all of the details.  Look for this help.

If you can use Plurals, Truncation or Wildcards then learn how to use these.  Know the symbols to use and the manner to use them.  Plurals may allow you to find “apple” or “apples” by inserting a “+” sign in your search term.

Truncation will allow you to retrieve multiple hits without having to enter in multiple search terms.  If you enter in “genealog*” you will get hots for all words that being with the letters “genealog”.  So you will find genealogy, genealogist, and genealogies.  Learn how the database requires you to use this tool.  In one search you can get all of your hits that may apply to your research.

Ginger Frere Giving Our Audience One Of Her Great Points On Searching Online Databases

Wild Card searching can be great for surnames in which you have seen many ways to discover an ancestral name where one letter or multiple letters may have different occurrences.  Ginger used the example of the surname “SMITH”.  Maybe you have seen this as “SMYTH”.  With Wildcard searching you can find all of the occurrences of either spelling by setting up a Wildcard search like “SM?TH”.  The question mark symbol is often used but the database should spell out if some other symbol is used.  For searching Polish females in my own research, their surname often reflects the feminized naming conventions.  A Polish female name often ends in the letter “a”.  If I were looking for “SANTOWSKI” I may want to consider also looking for “SANTOWSKA”.  I could do each search on its own and discover the results but with wildcard searching I can get all of the results for both in one search by setting it up as “SANTOWSK?”.

Ginger also provided us with insight on using Boolean operators within database searches.  We all know this more as using “AND”, “OR” or “NOT” commands within our searches.  Some databases imply an AND command if you enter in multiple words without them being in quotes.  Again, know the database and what it does.

Bob K Stayed After the Presentation To Seek Further Help From Ginger

Ginger also emphasized that it is important that we do not enter in too many terms in our search, especially using AND because if any one is not contained for your ancestor then you will not get a “hit” on your ancestor and think that your ancestor is not in the database.  Always start with the “broadest” and simplest search first using maybe a SURNAME.  If you get thousands of hits then start adding in additional  search terms like YEAR OF BIRTH or IMMIGRATION YEAR or OCCUPATION or COUNTRY BORN.  These search capabilities often give you the ability to specify a range of years for birth or immigration.  Take advantage of using this range because even though you may be sure of when your ancestor was born, how it was recorded on the documents that comprise the database may be an entirely different story.

Ginger ended her presentation at around 9:05 PM and stayed until about 9:30 PM addressing questions from those that spoke to her directly after the program itself was completed.

Our thanks go to Ginger for coming out to give us a great overview of accessing databases in an effective and efficient manner.  The data you seek may be in the database but it does not often give up the material as easily as we would hope.  With Ginger’s insights your successful searching may greatly improve.

Ann M and Bill K Having Some Post-Program Exchanges Of Ideas

Thank you again to Ginger for also allowing me to post your handout of the program in my blog.  You are so gracious to allow us all to benefit from your handout.

Incorporate Ginger’s suggestions into your research.  Learn from the expert!

Good luck with all of your future searching!!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Here Is A Challenge (Easy I Think!) To Readers of My Blog – What Is Different Between My July 2011 and August 2011 “Newsletter” and “Program Handouts”???

Hi Everyone!

Here is a really simple challenge to readers of this blog. 

Trust me, it is simple!

Why is this simple?  Because I know as genealogy researchers, looking at documents and looking for subtle things within documents is a genealogy researchers’ specialty.  Plus I know the high level of skills of the people I interact with.  You are all the best.

Open up the PDF files for the July 2011 and August 2011 “Newsletter” and “Program Handouts” and tell me what you see that is different in the August 2011 issues.

Hints.

——There is one difference for the Newsletter.  There are two differences for the Program Handouts.

——There is visually something new in the August 2011 issue of the “Newsletter” and the “Program Handouts” and the difference can be found in the first 5 pages.

——One of the differences is related to a recent post I made in the last month.

I brought this up as a quick challenge at our most recent program on August 9, 2011 and I want to give a hearty congratulations to Sue R. who immediately was able to tell me what she discovered.  Sue, you caught me off guard because I did not think anyone would know as quickly as you did.  I thought I could have made it more dramatic but you burst that bubble way too quickly.

Sue’s answer sure made me feel good that there are readers of the blog that are in fact reading through the posted Newsletter and Program Handouts!

So it would not be fair for anyone who attended the program to leave me a comment with the answer to my challenge because you already know the answer.  This challenge is obviously intended for someone not at our last program that reads my blog.

But I did want to congratulate Sue R. again and leave her with her “15 minutes of fame” moment.

For those of you up to this challenge, please leave your answer as to what you see different as a “comment” response on this blog post.

Perhaps your “15 minutes of fame” moment is right around the corner with correct answers.

Give it a shot. 

Use the tips. 

Compare the issues.

Leave your answer within the “Comments” part of the blog post.

I patiently await your responses.

Thanks for participating.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library.

Controversial Manner To Enhance Readability of Cemetery Grave Markers Noted on Dick Eastman’s Blog (YouTube Video Link Included)

Hi Everyone!

We are quickly running out of summer!

Summertime is often our best time of the year to venture out into the world of on site cemetery research before the days of fall and winter return back to our area.

I just saw an entry in Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Blog about a controversial manner of enhancing grave marker readability.  Illegible gravestone markers are a common occurrence for all genealogical researchers.  And the general rule of thumb is that it will definitely be YOUR gravestone markers that are illegible while the gravesites right next to yours are all pristine and readable!!

The posting by Dick Eastman seemed to indicate that there is a controversial manner of enhancing reading illegible gravestone markers by using flour!

It is apparently controversial because flour will interact with water and expand.  Consequently, any flour that may remain in any tiny microscopic crevices on the gravestone marker could be cause further deterioration by inadvertently triggering expansion of the marker material and further deterioration.

Following is the text in Italics from the Dick Eastman blog post that describes the concerns of using flour on illegible gravestone markers in your cemetery research:

William Jerry (Champ) Champion has created a YouTube video that shows a quick and easy way to read and photograph grave markers that are worn or have become discolored. In years past, genealogists have used a variety of materials to improve legibility of tombstones, from shaving cream to chalk and a variety of other materials. However, most of those methods reportedly damage the stone to some extent. Many of the materials are abrasive and also may leave chemicals behind that cause long-term damage. However, Champ claims the use of flour creates no damage.

Not everyone agrees. Some so-called “experts” will tell you that flour is harmful because it can penetrate into small pores of the stone, and, when wet, the flour will swell and can cause flaking of the stone. Some also claim that flour contains yeast, which encourages the growth of lichens and micro-organisms that can then live and grow in the stone, causing expansion and cracking. Technically, flour does not contain yeast when first ground. However, yeast floats in the air most everywhere and may land on flour, where it may flourish.

I do question the qualifications of all these so-called “experts.” I therefore turned to the Association for Gravestone Studies’ web site as this is the nationally-recognized expert organization. I’d believe whatever the Association for Gravestone Studies says. The Association’s web site at http://www.gravestonestudies.org/faq.htm has a long list of things to never do, and it cautions, “Don’t use shaving cream, chalk, graphite, dirt, or other concoctions in an attempt to read worn inscriptions.” Flour is not mentioned although it might qualify as an “other concoction.”The Texas Historical Commission’s web site has an online brochure at http://www.thc.state.tx.us/publications/guidelines/Preservecem.pdf that cautions to never use flour, but the qualifications of the author(s) are not listed.Fact or fiction? The video shows that the use of flour is very effective; but does it cause long-term damage? I don’t have a degree in chemical engineering or any expertise in the growth of micro-organisms, so I won’t make any judgment. I’ll let others decide. However, until I see something in writing from a person whose credentials give some assurance of the person’s expertise, I won’t be using flour for any of my tombstone work.

You can watch the “flour video” at http://youtu.be/WVBMNVqGhck.

 
Posted by Dick Eastman on August 11, 2011 in Preservation | Permalink
 
It sounds like the jury is still out on using flour to enhance readability of gravestone markers.
 
Think about this method during the final couple of months when your cemetery research can be productive before winter sets in.  Strike while the iron is hot to get yourself to a cemetery for your research now.  Don’t put off until tomorrow.  Your cemetery research can really be very productive in your research.
 
I hope that all the gravestone markers you encounter are perfectly legible for you and that you never encounter one that might require you to haul out your bag of Pillsbury’s well-known product to dust onto the gravestone marker!
 
Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library