Month: May 2012


I ran across a website recently that is a really clever idea. I know I’ve stumbled upon it before, but for some reason I never stayed. Now I’m hooked. BillionGraves.com is a site, similar is some ways to Find-A-Grave. To be honest, while I love Find-A-Grave and I will always use it, its age is showing. The site has not changed since I first found it over 10 years ago. The user interface is lacking, the headstone-adding process is getting clunkier every day, and it’s old and archaic. BillionGraves just feels fresh, new, and powerful. The sites, while having the same goal, work in a very different way.

I know I’ve had a similar idea in the past, though I never did much with it. I did transcribe one cemetery by hand once about 12 years ago, St. Finbar’s Cemetery in Saukville, Wisconsin, which is still online at interment.net. That was a small cemetery and it was a lot of work requiring going to the cemetery, visiting each stone, transcribing the info, writing it down in a notebook, taking it home, typing it into a computer, etc. I used a whole day just on that little cemetery. I love digitizing old records and other family information for people to find online. I had an idea to take pictures of every headstone in a cemetery and make some sort of website, but it still sounded like a lot of work for me, so I never did anything with it. Well, now Billion Graves has done it, and much better than I ever could have on my own.

Let them show you how they take people and technology to make the process extremely powerful:

So, if you have a smart phone of the iPhone or Android variety, you can download the BillionGraves.com app (iTunes link) and then visit your local cemetery and just start taking photos. The app will automatically capture the GPS coordinates on the cemetery and headstone and upload the photo to their servers.

Even if you don’t have a smart phone device, you can help by visiting the website and transcribing headstone photos that others have uploaded. I, myself, have transcribed almost 100 headstone photos already. It’s quick and easy and hopefully it’ll help countless people around the world.

Now that close friends and family have been notified, it’s time to let the rest of the world know. My wife, Darcy, and I are now expecting our second child in December of this year. I think Aerissa will really enjoy having a younger sibling to play with. She’s keeps us pretty busy.

I’m happy with either a son or a daughter, but since we have a daughter I’m leaning towards a son. As a dad, it’s always nice to have a son, someone to pass the ZALEWSKI name down another generation. We’ll see once we’re able to find out the gender.

 

Since I do have some data collected for my The Zalewski Project website, I decided to launch it in a “beta test” state.

It’s very basic looking and it only has data from the 1880 and 1900 US Census records, but it all can be browsed by city. I am currently working on the 1910 US Census and will also add other data as I get it. The Census was tough to get working at first, but I found a way to allow me to use all of the data and only pull what I need when you ask for it.

Take a look at the site now and let me know if there are any issues with the data, not the site, I know the site isn’t perfect, yet.

Here is another update on the previously-mentioned Zalewski Project I’ve been slowly working on.

I have collected the data from the 1880 US Census and the 1900 US Census and have created systems for it to allow you to view the data. I’m just working on making it “pretty” so it’s somewhat easy to view. Hopefully, this small phase won’t take long and you’ll be able to browse it in a basic format very soon.