A Review of Your Guide to Cemetery Research
by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, Cincinnati Ohio: Betterway Books, 2002. 263pp.
Ok. So you have been doing genealogy work for a little while now. You have become comfortable spending hours in front of the computer or shifting through hoards of records at distant repositories. But this, this is different. Now you find yourself driving slowly past every cemetery you see, while stretching your neck to see more and more of what isn’t there. And worse yet, you are planning your first cemetery trip. What’s happening to you?
Sharon DeBartolo Carmack begins her book: Your Guide to Cemetery Research with this analogy then goes on to say that genealogists have what’s called a cemetery gene. It makes them act in odd ways every time they come across a cemetery.
Well gene or no gene the first time I found myself hiking through a thick woods on a rainy day to find an allusive cemetery that supposedly contained the remains of Native Americans I knew I had crossed a line. A line I have never crossed back to this day. So I, for one, was very relieved to hear about the possibility of a genealogy gene.
Sharon DeBartolo Carmack describes her marvelous book as follows: “Despite its title, this book covers far more than cemetery research. Some researchers may not even know when and where their ancestors died, let alone where they’re buried. So this book begins with a look at American records surrounding death, followed by sources and information for cemetery research and a discussion of different burial customs. The literature on American cemeteries alone is massive; the goal here is to synthesize those sources, as well as to offer you insights and advice from my own years of researching in cemeteries.” I could not have said that better myself!
All in all this is a well written very interesting and yes even intriguing book. You just get finished understanding something new and pow, there is another great idea about to break the pages. As an added bonus there are helpful hints along the way. Each chapter carries with it a variety of these little helpers. They begin with the usual research tip and idea generator and progress onto notes, microfilm sources, reminders, quotes, Internet sources, warnings and hidden treasures.
How can you not love a book packed with all that help? Well I do love it. I bought a second copy so I can outline and highlight until I’m content that I have understood and retained this valuable information. I even found myself taking notes as I read it the first time. Wow! That does not happen for me very often. Another oddity for me is the fact that I have copied in long hand the meanings of the symbols on the older graves. Armed with this indispensable information I intend to revisit the many cemeteries I long thought I had exhausted in my research.
This book is a keeper, a must have, an indispensable research tool for your genealogy tool kit. No genealogist or family history buff should be without it.