Friday, September 27, 2019

Searching Mount Olivet Cemetery Records on TeVA

By Jennifer Randles

The Mount Olivet Cemetery Records Digital Collection is now live on the Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA). This collection contains records related to Mount Olivet Cemetery, a 206-acre cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee. Mount Olivet was established in 1856 by Adrian Van Sinderen Lindsley and John Buddeke. Notable interments include John Overton, Thomas Ryman, Anne Dallas Dudley and several former governors of Tennessee. Florence M. Redelsheimer (1911-1989), once a public relations administrator for Mount Olivet, compiled the physical collection, which includes accounts, correspondence, legal documents, maps, photographs, land records, and cemetery records.

Mount Olivet Cemetery Records Digital Collection on TeVA

Some of the most exciting items in the collection are three interment books spanning the years 1855-1906, which list the people buried in the cemetery and their burial locations. Information on each page includes interment date, names, age, cause of death, and plot location information. These books are part of an ongoing transcription project at the Library & Archives to record information in all three volumes in the collection. The final full transcriptions will be imported into the Genealogy Index Search, while a name index for each page will accompany the volumes in the TeVA digital collection. Currently, volume II and eighteen cemetery maps are available online, while volumes III and IV will be uploaded when transcription is complete. Unfortunately, volume I is not in the collections at the Library & Archives, so it is not part of this project.

Using the Collection

October 1878 interments listing names, ages, causes of death and burial locations.

Since names in the book are listed on each entry page in the digital collection, you can search for a name and go straight to where that person is listed by typing their name into the search box. Try searching with their last name and look through the pages it appears on to find a person, as many people are listed using initials or alternate spellings of their names. Names tagged on the page are listed in alphabetical order, not the order they appear in on the page.

Volume II has an index in the front with page numbers for each name. When using the book’s index, keep in mind that those refer to the page numbers written in the book. Not all pages have numbers written on them, so assigned each image a number to keep track of them. If you are having trouble finding someone, Ask Us a Question!

Each page lists information about the individual buried in a certain plot, such as name, date of interment, age, cause of death, and burial location. Not every piece of information was written down for each person, but there is still a lot of information in the books. Here are two former Tennessee governors in Volume II:

Interment record for Governor Aaron V. Brown.

This record from March 14, 1859 shows that Gov. Aaron Venable Brown was 63 years, 6 months and 21 days old when he died of pneumonia. Unfortunately, it doesn’t list a lot location.

Interment record for Governor Neill S. Brown.

This record from January 1886 lists Gov. Neill S. Brown (spelled as Neil) dying at age 76 due to paralysis.

I love death records and I encourage you to look through the interment book and search for names and dates in the Tennessean newspaper database, available to Tennesseans through the Tennessee Electronic Library. I often find information on the deceased in obituaries and newspaper articles- especially the social column. If the cause of death is an accident or murder, there is likely an article about the event. Just one line in these interment books can lead to fascinating discoveries about people’s lives in the past.

Mirador Viewer

This TeVA collection is also the first to test out a new feature, the Mirador image viewer. Mirador is an open source tool that gives people new ways to interact with items from digital collections around the world. To open a TeVA item in Mirador, click the button next to Print that looks like an M. It will open up in a new tab/window. Mirador is not optimized for mobile devices, so it is best used on desktop or laptop machines.

Mirador button location in TeVA.

Image view with filmstrip navigation on bottom.

Mirador offers more viewing options, such as Image view (with filmstrip on the bottom) or Gallery view (viewing thumbnails of each page in a grid). Users can double-click, use the on-screen controls, or use the scroll wheel on their mouse to zoom in/out and view different parts of the image. Click and drag with your mouse to move around the image.

Some of the most useful features of Mirador are the image controls. Have you ever found a document that is too dark to read, or a shadow covers part of the writing? Mirador’s image controls allow you to adjust the image to make it easier to view details. The great thing is your changes just affect what you’re seeing and not the original file, so you can play with the controls as much as you want without altering the original.

Mirador image manipulation controls.

To use the image controls, click on the “toggle image manipulation” button in the upper left corner of the image viewer. It looks like three horizontal lines with sliders on each bar.

The controls from left to right are:

  • Image Manipulation Toggle (turn tools on/off) 
  • Rotate image 90 deg right 
  • Rotate image 90 deg left 
  • Brightness 
  • Contrast (difference between darks & lights) 
  • Saturation (how much color is in image, for color images only) 
  • Grayscale toggle (turn color images to grayscale) 
  • Invert colors 
  • Reset image (undo all modifications to image) 

See the example images below to learn how you can play with these controls to make details more legible. The original is on the top, and has been modified in different ways in the examples below it. We encourage users to play with these settings and see how much more information you can get from the books.

Examples of image manipulation in Mirador.

We hope you’ll take this opportunity to explore the Mount Olivet collection and play with the new image viewer controls. As the other volumes of interment books are transcribed they will be uploaded to TeVA, so please come back to see when new material is available in the future. Happy searching!

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

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