Surveying with feeling
The Historic Graves Project started as a scientific, archaeological survey of the historic graveyards of Ireland. Initially our main interest lay in dimensions, morphology, location and chronology of historic headstones but very quickly we learned that human feelings were going to be a key part of the surveys. As a community-led, crowdsourced heritage project the participant's motives for volunteering mostly involved a personal connection with the historic graveyard being surveyed - either parents, grandparents, siblings, offspring or neighbours were buried in the historic graveyard and very often the scientific survey was interrupted by discussions of loss and bereavement.
We tend not to record these discussions, they are very private and sometimes very raw - we therefore concentrate on recording and publishing stories of people, places and events which inform us about burial practices of yesterday and today. Our challenge is to use the power of the internet to enable communities to record and publish our own histories with data and stories and one of our main guides in meeting this challenge is Bernie Goldbach a senior lecturer in digital media in LIT/LSAD (irish.typepad.com). In the coming years we will address the more difficult aspects of the human experience of loss and bereavement and, as in so many ways, Bernie is pointing the way. His mother, Mrs Evelyn Goldbach, passed away in Pennsylvania yesterday (http://www.insideview.ie/irisheyes/2015/01/viewing-life-through-rickie-g...) and Bernie has articulated (http://audioboom.com/boos/2781883-the-final-ascent) something of the loss a family feels with the passing of a loved one, a mother.
We continue to survey graveyards scientifically but due to the contribution of our friends and volunteers we also do so with feeling.
Requiescat in Pace.