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Genealogy Tip of the Day
Illuminating Inscriptions
 Related Resources
• How to Do a Tombstone Rubbing
• Cemetery Do's & Don'ts
• Funeral Home Records
 
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Shaving cream has long been suggested by many genealogists as a method for highlighting inscriptions on difficult to read tombstones. Cemetery preservations now caution against its use, however, due to the fact that shaving cream is acidic and over time can cause the same damage to fragile tombstones as acid rain. One interesting alternative to worn, faded, and hard to read tombstone inscriptions is to use a black light bulb (75 watt or higher) to illuminate the inscription. While an extension cord may be a problem in many cemeteries, you can find portable, battery-operated black light units in many party or novelty stores. They are especially popular around Halloween! Cast the light directly on the tombstone and the words just seem to pop right out at you.

Black light works especially well when it is dark, but lights in the cemetery at night may cause the police to come investigating (not to mention that cemeteries at night may not be the safest place unless you are with a group). Plus, many large cemeteries actually close from dusk to dawn. As an alternative, bring a large, dark blanket with you to the cemetery and use it as a drape over both you and the tombstone while using the black light. This should create enough darkness for a very "illuminating inscription."


Tips for Photographing Gravestones

 

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