TIPS ON TRANSCRIBING A CEMETERY
 

Transcribing cemeteries is a very pleasant experience, with the bird songs, the sunshine, the soft wind blowing, and absolutely no one to bother you!

Supplies we use Purpose
Digital camera Our most important tool for preserving tombstones
Sidewalk chalk to accent the engraving.
tennis ball To rub engravers paper or carbon paper
Engravers paper (Carboff) or carbon paper To reveal very worn engraving.  The Carboff is paper with wax on it that stone mason's use. 
Soft car wash brush To brush off chalk or the soft fungus that grows on tombstones.
plastic spatula Great for scraping off the fungus that grows on some of the flat tombstones.  Also comes in handy when an ant hill covers a portion of the tombstone.
Tablet and pen To record the tombstone information when picture might be hard to read
Bottled water To help you stay hydrated when spending hours in a cemetery. 

 

Photographing the tombstone
 
Take at least one close up picture of engraving on tombstone.  If desired, also photograph entire tombstone. 

 

To do tracings / rubbings
 
If you use the Carb-off, place the paper side against the tombstone and rub the waxed side with tennis ball until the engraving appears. 
 
If using carbon paper, place a blank piece of paper on the section of the stone that you wish to rub. Over that, place a piece of carbon paper, carbon against the paper. Rub over the inscription with the tennis ball until you get a readable image. 
 
Make sure you record the information obtained from your rubbing on tablet.

 

Using Chalk
 
Some tombstone engraving will show up better if you use more chalk, others with less. Start with light chalk rubbing on tombstone then run your hand over the chalked engraving.   This will cause the engraving to be more pronounced.   

 

The brush
 
Some tombstones become covered in moss.   The brush is a great tool to clean this off.  

 

DO NOT
 
Do not use anything abbrasive on the tombstone.  I was recently told to use a brick to better read the engraving.  Needless to say, I was shocked and let them know it! 
 
Do not dig at the engraving.   If you'll chalk the flat portion of the tombstone, the engraving will be quite visible. 

 

 

 

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Last Modified: July 12, 2008