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Understanding BIGNAMES.TXT

The bignames.txt file contains more than 221,000 records of names and dates for the headstone photographs taken for this project. The transcribers for this project followed a software specification for generating the names for the pictures. The pictures file names were then sorted into one giant index called bignames.txt, which is frequently referred to as the "StonePics database". This page uses a series of examples to illustrate how you can make some reasonable assumptions about the headstones and monuments based on the way information is presented in bignames.txt. Look for an example below that matches the format of a record of interest.

When examining database record, remember that memorials may include people who are not buried in Newfoundland or who may still be living. The date given in a record is not necessarily a date of death. For example, there is a memorial to Pope John Paul's visit to Flat Rock and another to Winston Churchill & Teddy Roosevelt's meeting for the Atlantic Charter in Ship Harbour, Placentia. Names of all three people appear in the database, and the associated dates do not represent their death.

BATH, Frederick (1918) - 1 photo

This is the simplest and most straightforward record. One photograph was taken and the name and year of death are known. The absence of the phrase "in Group" in the record suggests only one name is visible in the photograph and that it was not part of a memorial containing a list of names.

BATH, Frederick (1918) - 2 photos

There were two photos taken of this stone for some reason. Typically this is done when the first photograph showing the whole stone was not thought to have enough detail for the text to be read from the photograph. An additional close-up photo was taken to insure the text would be readable. This is referred to in these web pages as a "detail photo".

BATH, Frederick (1918) - 5 photos

Multiple photos were taken of this stone because there was something unusual about it. In most cases this is because the stone is worn or damaged and additional photos were taken in hope of capturing the essential information. In other cases it was because there was something interesting or special about the stone.

BATH, Frederick (191x) - 5 photos

Multiple photos were most likely taken in an attempt to capture difficult-to-read information, possibly the year of death.

BATH, Frederick (xxxx) - 1 photo

There was no year of death on the stone when it was photographed, and it was thought by the transcriber that there had not been a year of death even when the marker was originally place. This is common on headstones for babies as well as for crude homemade markers for adults.

BATH, Frederick (1xxx) - 1 photo

When the year of death is written as (1xxx) it means that there is, or was at one time, a year of death on the stone, but it is now either missing completely or the last three digits could not be determined accurately.

BATH, Frederick (191x) in Group - 1 photo
BATH, Frederick (194x) in Group - 1 photo
BATH, Frederick (1918) in Group - 1 photo
BATH, Frederick (xxxx) in Group - 1 photo

When "in Group" is amended to a person's name it indicates the individual was one of many in a group listing. The majority of these are WW I & II memorials and are indicated by "191x" and "194x" respectively. Many memorials are to veterans and not just to those who lost their lives. The date may be representative of period of service or the year of death. When memorials included the actual year of death the information was used in the transcription. People whose names appear on memorials and plaques may be included in the database a second time from a headstone transcription. Some of the "in Group" photos were from family plot stones which contained a large number of names of adults. A date of "xxxx" was often the result of war memorials where the names of veterans of different wars were mixed or not clearly define.

BATH, Frederick (1918) & Fanny (1935) - 1 photo

Fanny's surname was the same as Frederick's, and their names are probably on the same stone. When a man's name is listed first and followed by a woman's name, there is perhaps a 60% chance they were a married couple. In most of the other 40% of the cases the relationship between the two individuals was either brother/sister or parent/child, but it was not uncommon to find grandparent/grandchild or cousins/aunts/uncles.

BATH, Frederick (1918) & Fanny Noseworthy Rideout - 1 photo

Fanny's year of death was omitted to make room for what appeared to be other surnames of importance. Maiden surnames for women in the database were considered a priority over their year of death to support name searches with the dig.exe application.

BATH, Frederick (1918) & Fanny (1935) & others - 1 photo

The phrase "& others" generally means that names of all individuals on the stone couldn't be spelled out in 50 characters or less. It was also used when the names were not provided on the stone, for example, "and three children who died in infancy". The phrase "& others" is frequently used on the initial photo of a stone containing a number of names for which a series of photos was taken. Typically the initial photo shows the entire stone and the text on the stone may or may not be readable. Subsequent photos home in on the names and details of all individuals. During the transcription of the "detail photos" the most senior married couple or individuals are identified and it is their names that are assigned to the initial picture of a family set. The phrase "& others" is amended to their names. For a researcher browsing photos via the photo index on a CD, this nomenclature may be a tip-off that the current photo may be the first in a series.

BATH, Frederick (1918) & others - 1 photo

This type of listing usually falls into one of two different categories. It could be that Frederick was the only individual whose name was provided. For example, Frederick was a 14 year old boy, and at the bottom of the stone it said, "and also five siblings who died in infancy". The second common interpretation is that this is the initial photo for a large family group of which no senior married couple was identified for use in indexing the stone. Typically the oldest adult male's name is used with "& others".

BATH, Frederick (1918) & Fanny (1935) & John - 1 photo

Frederick and Fanny are probably the parents and John is their son. Whenever parents were listed with one or more children, typically the father was identified first, then the mother, then one or more children or the phrase "& others". A record like this could also be for other combinations of family members, for example, three siblings or for a father and two children.

BATH, Frederick (xxxx) & Fanny (2000) - 1 photo

Frederick and Fanny may appear on a stone designed for married couples that intend to be buried together. Frederick's name appears on the stone, but because he is still living, there is no year of death for him. The bignames.txt file is an index to names on monuments, and not necessarily of deceased individuals.

BATH, Frederick (xxxx) & Fanny & Ann & Jane - 1 photo

Every record in the bignames.txt index has at least one date associated with it, even if only "xxxx" so that researchers will have information about the relevant time period. In all cases in which the first individual is listed with "xxxx" as the year and no subsequent years are provided, none were available.

BATH, Frederick (1918) & Fanny & R Noseworthy - 1 photo

A given name beginning with "R" was abbreviated in order to capture a surname in this record when it appeared to be different than those for other people on the stone.

BATH, Frederick (xxxx) & William Anstey & others - 1 photo

When the second individual listed is also a man, but he appears to have a different surname and is followed by "& others", it suggests this picture is the first in a series for a stone with many names that perhaps includes a spouse's parents or a married daughter's family. The idea is to capture both surnames in a single record to help researchers identify records of interest.

BATH, Baby (xxxx) - 1 photo

Many of the stones for babies did not include a given name. "Baby" was not used in the database as a substitute for an actual name that appeared on the marker. The stones belonging to babies were given as much attention as those belonging to adults because they often provide valuable research clues. Middle names for children are often the mother's maiden surname.

BATH, Unknown (1918) - 1 photo

The stone is probably damaged or worn and the transcriber could not determine the name with reasonable accuracy. In some cases the given name was never there to begin with. Sometimes individuals were simply referred to as "mother" or "my husband".

BATH, Unknown (19xx) - 1 photo
UNKNOWN, Frederick (19xx) - 1 photo

When part of the name is unknown and some of the characters of the date are unknown, it is most likely due to a worn or damaged stone. A variety of techniques was used to help decipher partially readable names. If the transcriber was unable to determine the name with reasonable certainty, guessing was avoided because incorrect guesses would make it less likely that a researcher would discover the record. It is expected that researchers who are examining the photographs for missing individuals will give special attention to those labeled "unknown". Many of the stones with this label contain sufficient enough readable information that they will be easily recognizable to someone looking for them.

UNKNOWN, F B (1918) - 1 photo

The transcriber determined two initials in the name, but was unable to read the rest of it. They may be either the first and middle initials or the first and last initials.

UNKNOWN, Unknown (xxxx) - 1 photo
UNKNOWN, Unknown (xxxx) & others

These are typically wooden crosses or some other crude marker with most of the lettering gone. Many of these may be recognizable to a researcher looking for them.

UNKNOWN, Unknown (1xxx) - 1 photo
UNKNOWN, Unknown (1xxx) & others - 1 photo

These are often stones that have deteriorated to the point that they are not readable, however many may be decipherable by a researcher looking for them. In some cases they are stones that had fallen on their faces and were too massive to roll over for a photograph.