Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Day in the Life

When I was in high school there was a popular series of photo books called “A Day in the Life…” There was A Day in the Life of Russia, A Day in the Life of Spain and A Day in the Life of America.

The premise was that a number of the world’s renowned photographers would go to one geographic location and all on the same day they would photograph the country or place as they saw it. The results were compiled into a book and sold not only as a time capsule but as a diverse representation of the place.

Let’s consider “A Day in the Life” genealogy style. Imagine a single day where a group of individuals – a diverse group of individuals - get together to capture everything they see. In this case the location is a historic cemetery.

The genealogists transcribe the stones and determine the family relationships. The photographers capture them in images. The geologist analyzes the type of rock and where it likely came from. The archaeologist prepares sample digs to find remnants left behind by loved ones and discovers the remains of the first meeting house. The anthropologists study the symbols of the gravestone art. The historical botanist analyzes the traditional plants surrounding the graves. The surveyor confirms the boundaries of the area and which direction the graves are facing. The scientist uses ground penetrating sonar to discover unmarked graves and to reconstruct gravestone text that has been wiped away by the elements. The meteorologist determines the impact of acid rain on the decay rate of the gravestones. The masons determine the construction techniques used in the building of the stone walls.

Ah, what a wonderful book this would be if we looked at the whole instead of just the pieces.


  1. Cool idea for a genealogical society to tackle!

  2. I remember the "Day in the Life of..." very well, particularly the one about Ireland. They actually documented that day when the photographers spread out over Ireland in a video documentary which I searched for, for many years, and finally found a copy on videotape. It has never been released on DVD to my knowledge. The way it was shot, covering several key photographers of the actual hundreds that went out, was amazing, and the incredible soundtrack written especially for the documentary was so poignant it brings tears to anyone's eyes that hears it. It was indeed a very special event, documenting that country at that time, showing things that were disappearing then. I loved seeing the little boys and girls in the catholic church attending their first communion, the parish priest out on a road with his flock bowling down the lane, the gypsy travelers breaking camp, the old caretaker couple living in a remote lighthouse, smiling shyly at one another and the camera, etc.

    I agree, it's a good idea in the regard you mention it, also!