York cemetery in the spotlight

York cemetery in the spotlight

Rachael, a Year 12 student at Helena College, performed the task to gain her silver Duke of Edinburgh Award.

She said documenting the first section of the cemetery took about six months and involved her spending an hour each week compiling a list of the names, dates of birth and dates of deaths of those buried there.

‘I also took a photo of each individual gravestone and any little details. Then I transferred all the information onto my computer. Each page is dedicated to one plot in the cemetery,’ she said.

Rachael intends to document the rest of the cemetery to win her gold Duke of Edinburghs Award.

She said she had originally planned to pick up rubbish from the roadside to complete the community service component of the award but was told it would be too dangerous.

She later contacted York Society president Bill Roy and Julie Rae, from the York Research and Archival Centre, seeking ideas.

‘Julie told me they were looking for someone to document the gravesites in the cemetery,’ she said.

‘I really enjoy photography and I wanted to help out because it is so relevant to historic York.

‘And it was flexible with my school work, too.

Rachel said the York Research and Archival Centre are planning to have a book printed of her cemetery work and keep all the information gathered at the centre.

Rachael was surprised by the number of children buried at the cemetery and how families have changed over time.

‘When I was writing down the names from the gravesites, I would see that there were up to 13 children in one family.

‘It must have been a tough life back then,’ she said.