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Indexing Cemetery Photos

Indexing your own photos

1. Before starting, please sign up as a photographer.

2. Index your photos.

3. Once finished, submit your photos and index at the same time.
Indexing others photos
Indexing Volunteer Requirements:
- Enough time to index a minimum of 100 photos within a 7 day period
- Ability to type accurately
- Ability to use, or willingness to learn to navigate Google Drive
- Ability to use Excel, Open Office, Google Docs or similar spreadsheet software

How it works:
1. You sign up as a volunteer
2. You retrieve a batch of photos to index (instructions are sent after sign-up)
3. You index the photos and send back just the index once complete (you can then delete the photos)
That's it!
To help index photo submissions please sign up as an indexing volunteer:
Spreadsheet software makes it very easy to create an index. Coordinators of this project use mostly Excel but ANY software that can save to .txt format can be used to index photos (including Open Office & Google Docs).

♦ Template
An indexing template is available in these formats (to download: right click, save as)
- Excel (.xls)
- Text (.txt)

♦ Headings
Please use these headings when creating a photo index (additional detail and photo examples can be found further down):

Name or # of photo* (eg. DSC00565.jpg)

First, middle & nickname of person. Titles can also be included but please place them at the end (eg. John, Dr.). Please use mixed case. Nicknames should be in "quotes", please do not use {brackets}.

Maiden names of females if known, please type it in CAPITALS

Last name, please type it in CAPITALS

Year of death - year only!

Year of birth - year only!

Age of person if indicated on the stone (don't include age if it's not on the stone). Unless it's an infant only numbers should be used (e.g. use 51, not 51 years 4 months)

To be used only if both the Death Year and Birth Year columns contain no information. Indicate here if the person is a spouse, parent, sibling, child, etc. to the primary person named on the stone.

To be used to include other information that does not fit elsewhere. If a stone is difficult to read a transcription can be typed here.

For large cemeteries that are divided into named sections, put the name of the section here.

Note To Admin
This is where you can leave a note for the Project administrator. Does a photo need to be rotated? Have a question? Any comments in this column will NOT be included in the final index.

♦ Renaming Photos
Photos do NOT need to be renamed for indexing. It's actually easier & faster to use the name assigned by your camera. If you do choose to rename the photos consider using a numbering system in lieu of just the names in the photos, ie. 001-BROWN-John.jpg, 002-BUTTONS-Susan.jpg

♦ Indexing vs. Transcribing
The purpose of indexing is to assist visitors in finding the photo(s) they're seeking. The photo will then provide additional information.

If a stone can be read by viewing the photo there is no need for a full transcript and we encourage that photo be indexed only.

However, if a headstone is hard to read or cannot be read from the photo and you can decipher what is written, you are welcome to transcribe the headstone in the COMMENT column. (see: transcribing a photo)

Cliff Notes Version

- Use the headings as listed above

- EVERY person listed on a stone gets indexed (with one exception)

- Each person gets their own line in the index (no one shares!). For example, if a stone has five names you would use five lines in the index - one for each person.

- Each line should be accompanied by the # or name of the photo (without this information it's impossible to tie the index to the photos!)

Photo #1 would index like this. The relationship column is used to explain why John & Mary are indexed with photo 1. They're named on this stone, but only as parents (no birth or death dates for them).

When in doubt please refer to the examples below or use existing indexes as a guide.


♦ Living persons
It's requested that you index every name on each stone, with the exception of living persons.

Some are obvious to spot, there is a birth date within the past 100 years but no death date. These are usually pre-set stones standing in preparation for the future, or stones where one spouse has died but the other has not.

Some are not as obvious. For example, relatives named on a stone for someone who was born within the past 100 years. There are no dates for the relatives so some guesswork is needed to determine if they should be considered living (if in doubt, consider them as living).
Photo A

Photo A

Pre-Set Stones. These are set in advance and everyone named on the stone is living. Therefore only the SURNAME is indexed.

Photo B

Photo B

Mix of living & deceased. Only the deceased is indexed as the other(s) named were born within the past 100 years.

Photo C

Photo C

Reverse Sides. Many stones have inscriptions on the back that name living children and grandchildren. Do not index their first names, treat it just like Photo A and index only the surname, then include a note in the Note to Admin column.

Keep an eye out for 'forgotten' pre-set stones. These are easy to spot - the date of birth is 100+ years ago but there's no death date. Assume they are deceased and index as such with a ? in the DEATHYR column.

When trying to determine whether a relation is still living, take your cue from birth dates.
- Parents: Can be indexed if their child was born 80+ years ago.
- Spouses: Can be indexed if their spouse was born 100+ years ago.
- Siblings: Can be indexed if their brother or sister was born 100+ years ago.
- Children: Should only be indexed if their parent(s) were born 120+ years ago.


Scenery photos are defined as photos of cemetery entrances, the grounds, section markers and other 'non headstone' photos.

Indexing scenery photos is very simple - put the photo name in the PHOTO# column, then a 0 (that's a zero) in the SURNAME column. That's it! Please leave all other columns blank.


Footstones can be frustrating as they rarely include the surname and it's a guess which headstone they match up with.

Where possible please try to match the footstone with a headstone so a surname can be included (e.g. 9a). If that's not possible put a ? in the SURNAME column (e.g. 9b).

If a footstone does not include any birth-death dates, put 'footstone' in the DEATH column.


Illegible or hard to read stones

Some stones are difficult or impossible to read but they too need to be indexed. Here's how:

(x1) If completely illegible: Put (unreadable) in the SURNAME column and move on

(x2) If the name is illegible but dates are not: Put (unreadable) in the SURNAME column and the dates in the BIRTH & DEATH columns

(x3 & x4) If part of a name is illegible, index as normal but put a ? where illegible


♦ Foreign language stones

Not all stones are in English. If it's a language that uses the latin alphabet, index the names as you see them even if you don't understand the language. 

If the latin alphabet isn't used, leave the FIRST NAME column blank, put (Not In English) in the SURNAME column and if possible fill out the rest of the columns as usual.


♦ Columbariums & Memorial walls

If names are easily readable (zoomed in no more than once) then index each one as you would a regular stone.

If names are not easily readable or require several zooms to read, index it like you would a scenery photo.


Distant views

With large monuments some photographers will take a distant photo that shows the entire stone, then several close-up photos so the inscription can be read. For these photos, please index the distant photo by surname only (leave all other fields, except for photo #, blank) and indicate in the 'Note To Admin' column which close-up photos this stone belongs to.




The Photo # is the name or # of the photo (ie. DSC00565.jpg) This is important as without a photo name/number there is no way to tie the photos to the index. Please be sure that for every name on a photo that is indexed, that the PHOTO# field is filled in.

If indexing your own photos: If you have renamed your photos using a numbering system (e.g. 001-BROWN-John.jpg) use just the number as the PHOTO# in the index, it'll save you some typing!

If indexing others photos: The photos will come named with a cemetery code (e.g. CAA11000-001-CanadaGenWeb-Cemetery-Province-Locality.jpg). Use the part between the first two dashes as the photo #, in this example the photo # would be 001.


The FIRST NAME field is for first, middle, nickname and title of each person. Please use mixed case when entering the name.
- The first name should always go first even if the person had a title.
- Middle name should go after the first name but before nickname & title.
- Put nicknames in "quotation" marks (no brackets please!).
- Titles should go at the end (this includes Rev, Mrs, Dr).

Example: Reverend Albert "Bert" Frederick Brown

Maiden names of females if known, please type it in CAPITALS
If a woman married more than once, she should be indexed under all married names. For example, if married twice she would be indexed once under her first married name, then again under her second married name. Her maiden name would be entered for both.
Last name, please type it in CAPITALS
Year of death - year only! No dates, no months. Just the year.
Year of birth - year only! No dates, no months. Just the year.
Age of person only if indicated on the stone.
For those aged 1 and over please state only their age in years even if additional information is noted (e.g. '51 years, 4 months, 3 days' index as 51).
For those under 1 year of age please use m for months, w for weeks, d for days, h for hours (e.g. 4 weeks = 4w)

The BIRTH, DEATH & RELATIONSHIP columns are used to indicate why someone is named in the index.
The RELATIONSHIP field is used only if someone is named on a stone as a relative (if someone has a birth and/or death date skip the RELATIONSHIP column and leave it blank).
The easiest way to figure out whether or not to include a relationship is to consider how the end result will look in the index:
These examples indicate these names are in the index because their headstone was indexed (they do NOT use the RELATIONSHIP column):
    BROWN, John [1850-1899]
    BROWN, Patsy [?-1870]
These examples indicate the name is there because they are named on someone else's headstone, and why (they DO use the RELATIONSHIP column but NOT the BIRTHYR or DEATHYR columns):
    BROWN, Wally [parent]
    BROWN, William [spouse]
Please use:
- spouse to indicate husband or wife, as well as relict or widow(er)
- parent to indicate father or mother
- sibling to indicate brother or sister
- child of to indicate son or daughter

Please take note of the living person exception, it also applies to relatives.

Photo 6

Note how Michael Gross was indexed just once, as a spouse, even though he is shown further down the stone as a father. For this type of occurence, chose the first known relationship (e.g. spouse over parent).


Photo 7

To be used to include other information that does not fit elsewhere or would not be obvious when viewing the photo. If a stone is difficult to read a transcription can be typed here.
For large cemeteries that are divided into named sections, put the name of the section here. This column can also be used for Plot and Row numbers as long as it is noted with the information.


This is where you can leave a note for the Project administrator. Does a photo need to be rotated? Have a question? Want the admin to take a second look at the photo? Any comments in this column are NOT placed online.


As noted above, when indexing a photo a transcript is not needed if the photo can be read. However if a photo is difficult to read a transcript can be helpful.

First, index the photo, then type a transcript into the COMMENTS column. Put a / where there is a line break. Please do not put any carriage returns into the index, the transcript should end up in one long line like this:

Phebe / relict of / Charles Gage / who died Nov 1st 1884 / aged 74 years / Mother thou art gone to rest / We will not weep for thee / For thou art now where oft on Earth / Thy spirit longed to be


* Note to transcribers: When indexing a transcript, please be sure to each index person named on a stone separately, then copy the transcript into the COMMENTS field of each person.

A TIP...

Indexing goes faster when you can see both the photo and the index at the same time.

To do this using one computer: Minimize the window with the index and put it in front of, beside, or below the photo. You can then type while looking at the photo.


Minimized windows placed side-by-side


Minimized windows placed one above the other

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