Green-Wood Cemetery (www.green-wood.com) is looking for an individual with the digital expertise to assist with its archival burial records project. The goal is to make 97 years of burial records accessible and searchable online. The project is part of an application to the National Endowment for the Humanities for funding through the Humanities Collections and Reference Resources program.
As we prepare our application for the July 2019 deadline, we are looking for the right person to include in our proposal. If we select you, and we are successful in receiving a grant award, you will be compensated by grant funding and become part of the grant team.
For the first century of the Green-Wood’s existence, cemetery record keepers kept a handwritten logbook of all burials. Sixty oversized, cloth-bound ledgers contain a chronological record of all interments at Green-Wood from the first burial in 1840 through 1937. Each interment had an entry for name of the deceased; burial date; age at death in years, months, and days; place of birth; marital status; street and house number of residence; cause of death; name of the undertaker; lot number; occasional ancillary notations; and lot/grave diagrams. The registry contains the burial records of 438,180 individuals. The format is similar to the United States census records; names are listed down the left hand margin of the page with details in vertical columns that span two pages.
For this project, as outlined in a proposal to the National Endowment for the Humanities, Green-Wood wishes to present the burial registry data so it can be used by both scholars and the public. One user may be a digital humanities scholar who connects the Green-Wood records with National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS) to map diseases to neighborhoods, for example. Another user may be an organization that aggregates records from cultural heritage institutions to make them available to larger audiences (such as the Digital Public Library of America.)
We seek an individual who can transform the digitized data into a platform that can be searched, filtered, and browsed via a web interface. The work includes:
Data normalization and database design. Design a database schema that describes the burial registry. Certain data, such as dates of death, will likely be represented by a dedicated database field.
Database implementation. Coordinate with Green-Wood's technical team to determine where and how the data should be stored. A canonical copy of the burial registry will be stored on Green-Wood's server, with an additional copy kept on an external hard drive. Work with Green-Wood’s technical team to design and build a tool to manage the initial import of the raw (transcribed) data.
The general public (Brooklynites, genealogists, family researchers, educators, and more) will also be able to access the burial registry and the search through a specially designed web page hosted on Green-Wood’s website. Therefore, Green-Wood also needs a User Interface (UX) Designer who can create an interface that captures the richness of the data, and also delivers an intuitive user experience.
By conceptualizing how users will search the data and use the results, the UX developer will first create a user flow diagram to inform the design. The developer will also create a web interface that coordinates with Green-Wood’s website, ensuring a consistent look and user experience.
With over 100,000 cemeteries in the United States, an important aspect of this project is its transferability to other cemeteries across the country, thereby making previously unknown data available to researchers. The potential for millions of records to be made available to digital humanities scholars is the heart of this project.
Please send an email to Melissa Levinsohn ([log in to unmask]) with the subject line: NEH Grant: Your Last Name (eg, "NEH Grant: Lopez".) Please include a thoughtful note about why this project is of interest to you and how your expertise can help us secure this grant! Include your resume as well, and your proposed consulting fees for the project.
Please respond asap. We will identify the best candidates, call each to discuss the project in June 2019, and select one. Our NEH application is due in July 2019. We will learn in March 2020 if we received funding. Your portion of the project would begin in late 2020. Proximity to Brooklyn would be nice, but not required.
Founded in 1838 as one of America’s first rural cemeteries, the Green-Wood Cemetery soon developed an international reputation for its magnificent beauty and became the fashionable place to be buried. By 1860, Green-Wood was attracting 500,000 visitors a year, rivaling Niagara Falls as the country’s greatest tourist attraction. Green-Wood’s popularity helped inspire the creation of public parks, including New York City’s Central and Prospect Parks.
Today, Green-Wood is a Level III, accredited arboretum (one of only 28 in the world) with over 7,000 trees representing more than 500 species. It is an outdoor museum of sculpture and statuary, and a repository of history. As the “permanent residence” of over 570,000 individuals, Green-Wood preserves the legacy of luminaries such as Leonard Bernstein, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Boss Tweed, Susan McKinney Steward, Emma Stebbins, more than 1,300 African-Americans interred in the 19th-century Freedom Lots, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Lola Montez, Charles Ebbets, baseball pioneers, artists, inventers and New Yorkers of all walks of life.
Our diverse set of public programs include arts and cultural events, twilight tours, workforce development programs in masonry restoration, a new range of Social Studies-aligned school programs, environmental justice workshops focused on street trees, exhibitions in our Fort Hamilton gatehouse and much more.
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