Local residents ‘speak to stones’ at cemetery lecture

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PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — Despite overcast skies, approximately 30 to 35 people “spoke to stones” this past Saturday at Jacob Begin’s “Stones that Speak” talk at the Turnpike Avenue Cemetery.

Begin, an accomplished photographer and expert on Rhode Island gravestones, is a historic preservation specialist with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (DOT) and a former member of the board of directors for the Bristol Historical and Preservation Society.

Featured here is a video from the “Stones that Speak” talk. 

Begin’s talk, sponsored by the Portsmouth Historical Society, was an outdoor lecture and workshop on the importance of preserving our local cemeteries and techniques for digitizing historic gravestones.

While the weather ruled out his planned demonstration of using simple tools, such as a digital camera or a cell phone, along with a mirror and an umbrella to take compelling images of gravestones, he provided key insights into what people can learn from cemeteries about local history and families.

This was the first information session planned for Historical Society members and other local volunteers who are interested in assisting the society and the Town Planning Department in updating an inventory/catalog of cemeteries in Portsmouth in support of the town’s Comprehensive Plan.

At the event, 27 people signed up to assist in this effort, which will begin this summer.

Town Planner Gary Crosby, a member of the Historical Society Board of Directors, will be coordinating this project, assisted by other society board members.

If you would like to help out with these important and interesting projects, please contact the Portsmouth Historical Society at PHSinfo@portsmouthhistorical.org for more information. 

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