The prolific cemetery editor has become the newest member of the Squadron of Biplane Spectators
Citizen scientists help the USGS improve US Topo maps by editing information about structures including cemeteries. This group of dedicated volunteers, known as the National Map Corps (TNMCorps), earn virtual badges. And interestingly, they use self-selected screen names or an editor “handle”. Don’t be spooked by this but Queen of the Dead has risen, earning the top award, the Squadron of Biplane Spectators for editing more than 6,000 points.
In her own words the Queen describes why she does what she does.
“My grandparents sent me out on a genealogical quest when I was in college. One of them wanted to know if she was related to the first Governor of Kentucky (yes, but distantly). The other watched grainy black and white films of sheep in Scotland and wanted to know where his family was from (still don't know).”
“Cemeteries and genealogy go hand in hand. You learn a lot about who is buried next to whom, who is rich enough to afford headstones, and where there are only unmarked graves at the corner of a field. You learn how much stock folks placed in religion and which flavor--whether it was more important to be buried in hallowed ground consecrated by a priest, or at the closest point to the heavens overlooking offspring's land in a river valley. You also learn a lot about how people migrated from one place to another. Many of my relatives moved west as Native Americans ceded more and more land. They moved into ‘coves’ along the Cumberland River in western Virginia, then huge land grants along the Cumberland River in Tennessee after the Revolutionary War. Others moved from small holdings on poor land after the War of 1812 in New England, westward to the Pacific.”
“So here's my plug”, she continued. “Take a county you care about. Maybe you've lived there all your life. Maybe you want to move there to retire (aerial images of private boat docks extending into deep blue water can be a side benefit of this work!). Get a hold of some documents listing all the cemeteries in that county and scan historical topo maps, imagery, and other sources such as USGenWeb. Confirm all the cemeteries you can. Keep track and update using TNMCorps web editor.”
If this story piques your interest, consider joining the Queen of the Dead along with hundreds of other volunteers who contribute to The National Map. You don’t have to be a cartographer, just an interest and a computer. Sign up and begin editing points today!
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