There are several sections for help on Cemetery Searches:
The Meaning of the “Search Buttons”
On the search page you will notice two large buttons:
By clicking on one of these two large buttons, you will cause our server to search our grave marker records for the names you entered in the “Given Name” and “Surname” entry boxes. In either case, the results are the same, but the presentation is different. By clicking on the “spreadsheet” icon, you will see a list of people found in alphabetical order by surname. By clicking on the “grave marker” icon you will see a list of grave markers which show a photo and “Our Transcription” for the each marker. Each grave marker will have at least one person that would have been shown on the “spreadsheet” presentation, though it may not be obvious which one it is. This list is ordered by grave marker identification number.
Using the Cemetery Selector
The cemetery list selection box may be useful if you know, or think you know, the cemetery where an individual is buried. You may select one or more cemeteries from the list, using the standard Microsoft Windows techniques. If you are using a tablet with touch only, this will be more difficult. The default selection is “–All– ” and you will find that the results come back very quickly, whether you select just one cemetery or “–All–“.
Using the “spreadsheet” presentation:
The spreadsheet is an alphabetical list of the people in the search. Its focus is people, not grave markers. The presentation is straightforward, but you should be aware of the function of the grave marker icon in the left-most column of the spreadsheet. If you click on that icon, you will leave the spreadsheet presentation and see a new page which shows the full information for the grave marker where that name was found. To get back to the spreadsheet, use your browser’s back button.
Using the list of grave markers
When you press the grave marker icon on the Cemetery Search Page, you are presented with a list of the grave markers that matched the names you entered (and usually many more). The information presented includes the cemetery containing the grave marker, a photo of the marker and “Our Transcription”. The is just part of the information available for the marker. To see the full information, click on the Graver Marker #nnnn title at the top of each summary. There are many markers that have more than one photograph, and the only way to see all of them is to go to the full page for that marker.
Behind the scenes of the search engine.
The cemetery search engine is a computer program that runs “inside” the web site. It was custom-built for this site. It does not perform a site-wide search. In fact, it ignores all the pages that users can see and just works directly with the cemetery and grave marker information we have collected and organized. Furthermore, it does not directly analyze “Our Transcription” that you can see on a grave marker display page. Instead, we analyzed the information from the photograph of the gravemarker and organized it into a formal data structure of “given names”, “surnames”, dates of birth, etc.
Why do we NOT search directly on the transcription? The reason: A computer cannot figure out from the transcription what the actual meaning of the names are. For example, “Purdy” is often a last name, but we have a grave marker for “Purdy T Deveau”. A human would easily sort this into proper given name, initial, and surname, but a computer might not, because there is no consistency about which order these name appear on the grave markers. So, we went to the trouble of “translating” the tombstones so the computer would have an easier time doing the searching. In effect, for each gravestone, we made of record of what each word or number actually means.
Another problem is the presence and absence of French language diacritical marks. Many of the grave markers ignore the correct French spelling of words and names. But many markers were carved with care and the diacritical marks are clear. We failed to make a decision on the correct course of action, so we have been inconsistent in our transcriptions. However, the search engine ignores diacritical marks completely. It pays attention only to the core alphabet.
Why do I get such a long list of results?
For simple cases, where you provide one surname and one given name, the search engine can produce more results than you might expect. The is because the search engine “knows” about common variations of names, and makes an effort to show you all the names and variations. For example, enter Jacques Amirault. The results shown in the spreadsheet are:
So, there was no Jacques Amirault found, but a number of others were found. The three different spellings of Amero account for some of the extras. The given names contribute more. “Jacques” can be “translated” at various times and localities into “John”, “James” or “Jack”. This is why the other people show up. And notice that the search engine does not care whether the name is first or second.
Why do I get such a short list of results?
If you enter “Jasper Amirault” you will get a page that says “no results”. After reading the above, you may well wonder how this is possible! The reason is that the given name “Jasper” does not occur on any of our grave markers, or in our table of equivalent names. If you want to keep looking for possible matches, just enter only the initial “J” in the search field. That will show you many Amirault’s!
Last names are not so picky. If you enter no given names, and a last name of “Wolowitz”, you will get one person, named “Woodman”. If the search engine is presented with a last name that is not on any of our grave markers, it does match to last names as best it can. The results can be numerous in some cases, and zero in others. It just depends on how close the spelling is to one of our names.
Generally speaking, the less you enter, the more results are returned. Try entering “J” in the Given Name and just “C” in the Surname.