|Cryptic Clues in the Bone Yard|
|Review of a Family History Video from 123 Genealogy|
This week I had the opportunity to view a new family history video produced by The Studio of Hurricane, Utah. This particular video is Cryptic Clues in the Bone Yard with professional genealogist, Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, and is part of a series of similar videos available from 123 Genealogy.
The 70-minute video features Sharon DeBartolo Carmack dressed for a visit to the cemetery. She looks casual, comfortable and approachable - like she is a friend who plans to be your 'cemetery buddy' for the day. She begins her video lesson by commenting that you can always recognize a genealogist because their head will turn as you drive by any cemetery. She then proceeds to introduce the eight different types of cemeteries and then walks, step-by-step, through the following topics:
The presentation is lively and Sharon interjects just enough humor and trivia to keep things from getting too dry and textbook-like. The best part, in my opinion, is near the end when the video goes on location in the cemetery. You get to see first-hand how to clean a tombstone and just what plain water and chalk can do to bring out the carving for photographs. Sharon also demonstrates how reflectors can be used to shed light on a gravestone and how to do a good-quality rubbing.
I have to admit, that when the video first introduced the idea of using chalk on gravestones I was a little skeptical. I'm a genealogy purist, I guess, and am always worried about well-meaning cemetery buffs doing damage to tombstones in their quest for the perfect photograph or rubbing. But Sharon did make a point of mentioning that some stones are not suitable for this type of treatment and that it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine if a particular stone is stable enough before using chalk or doing a rubbing. She provides tips on how to make that determination and also points you to the Association for Gravestone Studies for further information.
Another thing that I liked about the video is that Sharon discussed the types of supplies you need for photos and rubbings, plus where to buy them and some low-cost alternatives.
The one obvious improvement that I would suggest is that it would be nice if the video was accompanied by a booklet or pamphlet which outlined the major topics discussed in the video. Such items as the cemetery researcher's checklist and the instructions for creating a quality tombstone rubbing would be very beneficial in printed form. Otherwise, you have to take time during the video making notes - rather than just enjoying the presentation.
Overall, I would have to say that the video is a very enjoyable way to learn about a new topic. It is primarily geared toward beginners, but even experienced researchers are bound to learn a new thing or two - I did!
Cryptic Clues in the Bone Yard sells for $14.95 (U.S. dollars) plus shipping and handling. It is not currently available in PAL format, so those of you in Europe and Australia are, unfortunately, out of luck. The video can be purchased directly from 123Genealogy via their secure online server, mail or fax.
Images © 2000 Kimberly Powell. All Rights Reserved.