Sociology Students Build Grave-Site Database for Class

Article excerpt

AUGUSTA -- It was a morbid class assignment, but Tara Jimenez spent a semester crawling through the cemetery anyway.

The Augusta State University senior was enthusiastic about meeting nine classmates at Cedar Grove Cemetery twice a week, despite the location. As a part of their sociology class, the students helped the county with a computerized grave logging and mapping project launched during the summer.

"We've walked this whole place," said Jimenez, pointing to the 35-acre cemetery sprawling around her.

Once the cataloging, mapping and interviewing are complete, the information will be posted on a Web site where relatives and researchers can search the date and cause of death of those buried. Students also will help create a burial site map with a margin of error of less than 2 feet.

Once the city's deceased are online, Internet users will be able to tap into the history of the 337 Confederate veterans, including seven generals, who are buried in Augusta. The computerized logs will include causes of death, which are more commonly listed as symptoms such as "convulsions." Also, recurring on the lists are baby deaths attributed to "teething" and "consumption." The history shows epidemics that hit the area including yellow fever, which took an average of four lives daily in 1836 and again in 1854.

"We are hoping that this will become more of a community project, because we have just scratched the surface," Jimenez said.

"Technology is drastically changing the way that we do our research," said Carrie Adamson, honorary president of the Augusta Genealogical Society. …