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Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Genealogical surprises on the Web

When I was younger, I used to occasionally look through a toy kaleidoscope. Inside a cardboard tube, there were three mirrors in a triangle with a small viewing hole in one end and a translucent covering on the other end containing some pieces of colored rocks or glass. Looking through the viewing hole, while holding the kaleidoscope up to the light produced images of complex patterns caused by the reflections in the mirrors. No matter how beautiful the pattern was in any given moment, the slightest movement would change the pattern to something else. This ever changing pattern is a good analogy for the constant developments on the World Wide Web, particularly in the area of genealogy.

This past few days, in doing some research on Danish ancestors, I came across another of those surprises. I found that the Danes have been busy putting photos of thousands of grave markers with their indexes on the Web. In the traditional Danish fashion, these are all very well organized and readily available for free. They shouldn't be at all difficult to locate, if you know how to read Danish and can search for a particular parish. It is a little more difficult if you only read English, but not impossible. The key site is a portal called Amt-Herred-Sogn (Counties-Districts-Parishes) or DIS-Danmark. When you reach the site, there is an icon of a little British flag. When you click the British flag, the site turns into English. The entry to the grave markers is found through following the organization geographically to the individual Parish sites and then looking for the "Gravsteder" if there is one available. Like many resources, this is a work in progress, but the quality of the site and the huge amount of information is impressive. You may also wish to search on "Billeder af Gravsten." Be aware that the English translation of the site only goes so far, as you get into the more useful portions of the site you will find that everything is in Danish and you may wish to have a Danish/English dictionary handy.

Here is a link to one of the Parish sites, just in case you can't make your way through the site's organization on the first try.

As you work with the Web, you will soon realize that, just as with my childhood kaleidoscope, every day there are changes and new patterns. I feel truly sorry for those people who cannot enjoy the changing patterns and realize that the explosion of information is an answer to prayers.

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