Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

May 15, 2010

Valdosta’s virtual cemetery

Web site lets public search for grave sites at Sunset Hill

VALDOSTA — The City of Valdosta launched an interactive Web site for the Sunset Hill Cemetery, allowing people to search for grave sites by name, year of death or military service branch.

“I think it’s just a really good, useful tool (and) another source of historical information that people can go to,” Emily Foster, Valdosta’s historic preservation planner, said. “It’s really convenient to have this sort of site ... Valdostans, whether they live here or across the country, they can use this site.”

Bringing together technology and history, the Web site provides an aerial photographic view of the cemetery. As a person enters information, the grave site location appears in green. The site also includes the cemetery’s hours, etiquette rules and purchasing lots.

The site was created “... to be used by family members, historians, genealogists, and anyone interested in learning about the generations of Valdostans laid to rest at the city-owned Sunset Hill Cemetery,” according to the city’s Web site.

The city received a Georgia Historic Preservation Fund grant from the Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources in 2009 to pay for the project.

The site was created by the city and the Southern Georgia Regional Commission’s (SGRC) VALOR-GIS program. The SGRC was contracted to complete the geographic information systems (GIS) work, technological aspects, and data matching with the cemetery’s database, Foster said.

The city also hired an intern to help with the GIS work. This person took photographs of headstones and grave sites.

Foster’s involvement with the project was writing and applying for the grant and coordinating information between the city and the SGRC. She also hired the intern who helped complete GIS work for the project.

While the SGRC created the Sunset Hill Cemetery interactive Web site, Foster was responsible for designing the city’s Web site, in terms of providing information on the Sunset Hill Cemetery. The links she developed included the following: About Sunset Hill Cemetery, Visit Sunset Hill Cemetery, Search Sunset Hill Cemetery Records, Sunset Hill Cemetery Map, and Cemetery Information and Regulations.

Since the site went live, Foster has received some positive phone calls from the community.

“I’m so proud to be affiliated with this program,” Foster said. “It was an idea that I had several years ago (and) I hope that it is of use to our community and the researchers are really able to learn a lot about our community through it.”

Sunset Hill Cemetery is located at 1100 N. Oak St.

To view the interactive database, visit the Web site at www.valorgis.com/sunset.

For more information, call Emily Foster at (229) 259-3563 or visit the City of Valdosta’s Web site, www.valdostacity.com.

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