WeRelate:Suggestions/Memorial in lieu of known burial

I've come across a variety of situations where the burial location of a person is unknown - yet a memorial we would recognize as their essential funerary monument does exist. Examples include:

  • Early settlers who's resting place is not remembered with certainty, recorded on a common settlers monument
  • Service members lost in conflict, and who have no known grave, but are recorded on a wall of the missing (example, James Rumgay).

I don't think it's correct to indicate such locations as a burial, but it seems insensitive to not provide these equivalent notice and respect in our presentation.

I offer a few alternatives to deal with this:

1) Can we create a type of fact called "memorial"
2) The memorial fact should appear where a burial fact would be used, when no burial is recorded
3) Alternative to the above 1&2 - use the burial field - but standardize an indicator that this is a monument only (has advantage of preventing inadvertent use of the burial field by the unwary).
4) Place pages where memorials exist, that are not otherwise cemeteries, are still acceptable as being a "cemetery"
5) Alternative to 4, create a new acceptable place type "memorial"
6) Alternative to 1-4. create a new acceptable place type "memorial". When used in the burial field, it is understood to NOT be the place of burial certain (seems heavy-handed - but maybe).


--jrm03063 21:44, 5 October 2012 (EDT)

Not to nit-pick, but understanding the purpose is essential to responding. The grammar of the first sentence is somewhat ambiguous. Part of the reason is the use of the word essential. No gravestone is necessary, as plenty of people rest in peace without one, and we are satisfactorily acquainted with many people that don't have any, that we know about. I am assuming the word essential is intended to have a meaning of, say, only, as in the only monument we know of.
And in this case, I would have a hard time accepting this proposition. Memorial monuments are often the work of one person, or a single group, and basically are a secondary source, and do not deserve to be put on a par with an original gravestone, as they are often wrong. E.g., Person:William Nickerson (2) where the daughter is shown with the incorrect husband. Another case I know, put up 100 years after the person died by a descendant, had the death date off by a year. Part of the reason for their high error rate is that they tend to be erected for exactly those people for which facts may be hard to come by, having no gravestone.
In other words, they are not facts, they are somebody's research, and their placement may not even bear any relation to the actual burial (such as Lewis and Clark memorial in Texas) and so represent nothing, and should be documented as sources if it is the only place a death date is specified, or mentioned in the narrative as an item of interest, but should not be given the status of facts. --Jrich 23:31, 5 October 2012 (EDT)
. . . and there are any number of grave markers added long after the death of the person buried there, which include incorrect information because the grandkids who put up the stone got it wrong. And stonecutters have been known to get the facts wrong, as well. But whatever is carved on the marker counts as an "original source" and should be treated as such. We all know it's entirely possible to have multiple original sources for the same event that disagree. That doesn't mean any of them should be ignored. The purported information included on a grave marker is entitled to be cited as burial information.
In the case of historical memorials, the data given them also are "facts." They may be correct or not, they may agree with other sources or not, but they're still facts. Whether you include them in the burial tag on a Person Page is immaterial. Personally, I put that sort of thing in the text box for the source and leave it at that -- but since we don't make a distinction between "baptism" and "christening," I'm not going to worry about it overmuch. --MikeTalk 09:14, 6 October 2012 (EDT)

I think the caveats which need to accompany this feature are well addressed above. So let me try to analyze this for the actual implementation details. It looks like this involves two things:

  • Adding a "type of event" called "memorial". That should be very easy, right?
  • Either allowing places with just memorials to be called a "cemetery" or adding a place type "memorial". Again, the latter should be technically easy, right? Which of these alternatives to implement will need discussing.

OK, and I do have two comments. First, I see that the site FindAGrave lists for Mark Twain is a memorial and not his actual gravesite in Elmira, NY. Second, I too have a relative with a stone more than a year in error (as far as I can tell, the carver didn't realize that the husband had died 3 years previously so used the current year for his age at death). (i.e. even gravestones need to be interpreted with care and memorials are probably already sneaking in, so let's be intentional about labelling them.)

--Pkeegstra 10:01, 6 October 2012 (EDT)

Additional comment to the above: In my opinion, I would say adding cemeteries as valid Places was an error because it clutters up the drop down list making it more difficult to select a "living" location. There are often several cemeteries for a given living location and since they contain the living location within their name, they come up in the list even when one is entering, say, a birth location. Based on these and similar considerations, I would certainly argue against now allowing new place pages for a memorial location that isn't a cemetery. All the arguments that could be made for memorials (and I would argue, cemeteries) could be made for churches, schools, and other those locations that aren't allowed as Places.
You should put in a new suggestion to have cemeteries excluded from the drop-down list unless the name of the cemetery is entered, or it is on the burial event. —Moverton 15:51, 7 October 2012 (EDT)
Reading the above comments, there seems to be some overlap between what is meant by burial and memorial. Perhaps some definitions are required. Perhaps some clarification of what to do when there are more than one, or when they differ from the true date. Would, say, a presidential library, represent a memorial? What about the Washington, D.C., monuments to various people and to soldiers? Historical markers?
A fact has a location and a date (facts are displayed in a timeline sorted by date). There is already a field for burial location, so if the memorial does not represent the burial location, its location may not represent a location in the person's life. There already is a field for date of death. The date a memorial was erected does not represent a date in the person's life, often decades or centuries later. If the memorial is the source of information for the already-existing fields (burial location and date of death), then it is a source. --Jrich 11:00, 6 October 2012 (EDT)

My first thought was to create a different type of fact, but I think that's actually apt to be more troublesome. Common practice already seems to be to make use of this type of memorial as the burial. Consider Pvt Richard George Abrahamowicz. I am struck that trying to resist this trend will be simultaneously ineffective and (for descendants) deeply offensive.

So I now offer that the best thing to do, is to accept that the burial fact is going to be used in cases of this sort. However, we should establish a practice that allows us to objectively distinguish the situation of a memorial only from an actual known, marked, burial. Perhaps a template {{memorial_only}} placed in the burial description field. When the person page is displayed, instead of the item having a label of "burial" it would show as "memorial". When under edit, the burial field appears as it does presently, but the {{memorial_only}} template would be in plain sight in the description field.

Locations of these memorials further should always be able to be called a "cemetery". Let the description for such pages offer an explanation of what the site does or does not contain. Why? It may be absolutely academically correct to claim that the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede is not a cemetery - but declaring it off limits as a place to be defined and used for memorial will only cause offense - when there really is no chance of the facts being confused.

--jrm03063 21:22, 6 October 2012 (EDT)

It sounds like you are arguing that people are going to do it in a "wrong" or "inaccurate" way, and we just need to accommodate them. If I were working on a family member with a monument (which I don't have), I would have no second thoughts about correcting the way the facts were entered. Now addressing the earlier comments...
I would not use the burial event unless I believed the person was in fact buried there. Instead I would just create an "Other" event if I wanted one for the memorial. I'm indifferent as to whether a "Memorial" event is created. I agree that it may be more accurately described as a source in some cases. —Moverton 15:51, 7 October 2012 (EDT)