But the Iowa GenWeb Project coordinator for Van Buren County found that there was no known existing software that did precisely that. So he contacted his son Jeff, a website programmer, to see if it was possible to create a tool that would store images via an easy-to-use interface that would allow people to contribute their own gravestone photos.
A working model soon emerged, and after some tweaking and fine tuning, the Iowa Gravestone Photo Project was begun.
That was in 2003 and last month, according to the newsletter of the Iowa Genealogical Society, the site passed the 500,000 mark in gravestone photos online. That includes all of Iowa’s 99 counties, thanks to thousands of volunteer coordinators. According to the IGS article, the project “has grown to be a significant resource for genealogical research while at the same time honoring our ancestors, many of whom were early pioneers of the state of Iowa.”
Rich Lowe now carries the title of Iowa Gravestone Photo Project Coordinator, and at least 12 states now use the software developed by his son. Further expansion is likely since the "Gravestone Photo Project" software is now categorized as an open-source project and the programming code has been placed in the public domain.
Does your state use it? If not, why not?
Larry Lehmer is a professional personal historian and chief legacy planner at When Words Matter, Ltd., who connects generations through their stories. To learn more, visit his web site, send him an e-mail or follow him on Twitter.
Flickr photo courtesy of cwwycoff1.