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Karoline Alsgaard and the Power of the Internet

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Man in Graveyard c. 1917, WHC Collections, 0083.008.0005.111

Man in Graveyard c. 1917, WHC Collections, 0083.008.0005.111

The internet has opened up powerful avenues for researching and identifying museum collections that just didn't exist a decade ago. Take for example this photo, which was identified today, thanks to the Find-A-Grave.com website. Find-A-Grave is an online database of burials all over the world. Volunteers catalog, photograph and research burial sites, and then post information on the searchable database. While it is not always exactly accurate, it is a powerful tool which can be used to help narrow down where an individual might be buried. When we ran across this photo today, I took a chance and ran the name Alsgaard through Find-A-Grave to see if we could at least figure out which cemetery the person was buried in. Having just spent the weekend out in Pioneer Cemetery in Salem, I thought I might have stumbled across an early photograph taken inside the cemetery. I was quickly disabused of this notion as a search for graves in Oregon with the surname of Alsgaard came up empty handed. So I broadened my search parameters. 38 results came up. Not wanting to spend too much time going through each name, I sorted the list by death dates. A volunteer had identified the car in the photo as of about 1916 vintage (Buick, if you were wondering). The newly sorted list had Karoline Alsgaard right at the top.  A quick look at the modern photos appended to this entry confirmed that this photograph was taken at Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Aurelia, Cherokee County, Iowa, most likely sometime after the death of Karoline Alsgaard in 1917.

Modern photo discovered on Find-A-Grave. Photo by Glenn Harris.

Unfortunately, we are still searching to see if we can identify the man next to the car and the reason this photograph ended up in the collections in our museum here in Oregon.  We'll update when/if we learn more.

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