13 September 2011

You're certainly welcome, Mr. Polk

Last weekend, my husband and I were out in our local cemetery trying to fill in some missing photographs on Find-A-Grave.

We were working in the older sections of the cemetery, so not many people were around; the couple of people who were at the cemetery so early on a Saturday morning were all visiting more recently deceased family members in the newer sections, so I wasn't too worried about having to answer questions about what we were doing there with our camera and our notebook.

Maybe there wouldn't be questions anyway, but I always worry. Maybe I just have a guilty conscience.

About midway through the morning, a family parked not far from our car and strolled into the section we were walking through. They paused at a family plot a couple of lots over, then one of the guys walked over toward where my husband and I were- Greg with his camera and floppy hat and I with my notebook and pen.

"Who are you looking for?" he asked conversationally. I shrugged and held up my notebook in a vaguely explanatory gesture and replied that we had a long list. He asked if I had any Polks on my list, and I apologetically explained that I was only as far along as A's and B's in this section.

That got a politely questioning look.

I was oddly reluctant to just say "I'm doing this for Find-A-Grave," because I tend to be sort of absurdly self-conscious about pretty much everything anyway, and I was afraid that someone out visiting deceased relatives who was unfamiliar with the site might somehow be offended or think we had no business being there, and I didn't want either odd looks or a confrontation. Like I said, I think it's a guilty conscience.

Instead, I stammered something like "Well, I'm a volunteer photographer- even though I'm making my husband take the pictures today- for this online grave database for genealogy researchers-" and nodded.

"Oh, I know that website," he said. As we talked a bit more before they left for the day, it turned out that his daughter had recommended Find-A-Grave to him as a resource. "It's helped me a lot with my own research. Thank y'all so much for your work."

I haven't really done much yet (though my husband was able to point out another plot of Polks to him), so I'm passing that along to any other Find-A-Grave volunteers who happen to read this.

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