Headstones and the role of a grave marker in genealogy.
A headstone, or grave marker is one of the only pieces of artwork that an average family will ever buy. These hand-made tributes to the life of a loved one serve many important purposes for a grieving family, but they are also an important genealogy record that will tell an individual’s story to following generations for perpetuity.
Here is an informative video by the folks from the Monument Builders of North America (MBNA) association about the history and role of monuments and grave markers.
Headstones have changed throughout the years to reflect the change in society and culture. Before the industrial revolution and the growth of technology, monuments were made from marble and were reserved for the wealthy. Commoners had to use materials that easily sourced in their local area.
Innovation in transport modes made way for other materials to be easily transferred between areas. Before long, everyone was able to have a stone monument instead of flammable wood or other deteriorating materials.
By 1900, granite became one of the most popular stones for headstones because of its durability against the elements of nature. With the creation of the laser in 1960, laser engraving soon became implemented into stone working and forever transformed the stonemason industry.
Today, the growth of technology has challenged the monument industry to create unique and creative headstone designs at a range of price points. Headstones and grave markers can also be created in a matter of days. In fact, if all materials are in stock, a headstone can be created and shipped within a week.
Advances in Information Technology has also made the process of engraving and etching much faster and at a higher level of detail and precision. A computer can quickly scan an image and transfer it to a stone in a matter of seconds. In fact, engravings and designs that took months to create now take only a few hours or days. Even pictures of the person, like a ceramic picture or laser etched portrait, can be placed onto a headstone.
Technology today has made the process of designing and creating a headstone much easier than it was in the past. People have access not only to online retailers who are located all over the country, but also to different types of materials, designs, and colours that previously were not available.
A look to the future shows that there is interest in placing GPS units into gravestones or burial plots to help family members locate their deceased relatives. Special interest in this technology has been shown in cities that have limited amounts of land.
For older gravestones that are in need of replacing, scanners can now scan the surface of the stone and deliver the details of any indentations that are not visible to the naked eye.