The Cemetery Photography Project
of the Genealogical Institute
of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada
This project was made possible by the generous funding of
the Heritage Grants Program, Manitoba Culture, Heritage & Citizenship, and
the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba supported by the Mark & Dorothy Danzker Fund.
This successful completion of this project would not have been possible without the unbelievable efforts of the dozens of volunteers and the many hundreds of hours they selflessly contributed.
Project Conceived: Spring 1995
Photos Taken: Summer & Fall 1996
Albums Completed: October 1997
record them if ever needed for reconstructive
to make them available for research or display, and
to make the inscriptions available
to genealogists and other researchers.
The project was of enormous proportions:
Photos were taken of the burial sites of 15,367 dearly departed in four large cemeteries in Winnipeg and in several
smaller cemeteries throughout the province.
656 rolls of film were developed
Two prints were made of each photo, totalling over 30,000 photos. Second copies of the photos were made for the Trustees of the cemeteries.
5,000 index cards and 45,000 identification labels were required.
Our 35 volunteers put in about 1200 hours of their time.
54 large albums now house the collection.
The printed listing of our database of burials is 364 pages long.
We believe that this was the first project of its type done by a genealogical society anywhere!
We know many individual cemeteries have been photographed, usually by the cemetery administrators,
but we know of no society that has previously attempted such a large scale, comprehensive gravestone
We are very proud of this, and we hope our project's success will encourage other societies to follow our lead.
The Project in Pictures
The photography phase was very challenging. All photographers used their own 35mm SLR cameras. They had to try to photo the stone straight-on. Often they had to crouch or be in awkward positions to take the picture.
We meticulously checked to ensure the database was correct. The names and location of each burial was effectively checked several times. Printed listings of the burials helped to guide the photography and album assembly phases.
Assembling the albums was much more labour-intensive than we expected. Each album (about 300 photos) took between 5 and 8 hours to assemble. The work included sorting and identifying the photos, placing labels on the identification cards and the backs of the photos, and inserting the cards and photos into the albums.
Every side of each album page contains three photos and an identification card. The backs of each photo have their own identification label and a roll and negative number. The album pages are archival quality.
On display - our 54 completed albums. These albums are now housed at the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada office at the Asper Jewish Community Campus in Winnipeg. The negatives are also being kept so that reprints can be made upon request.
Bev Rayburn was our Project Leader. She coordinated the project, arranged for volunteers, and took charge of the photo tendering and development. Bev's leadership kept everyone on the right path.
Lynn Roseman was in charge of material requirements, and coordinated the assembly of the final product. In so doing, she put several hundred hours of her own time into meticulously sorting and organizing the photos, negatives, and supplies to make the album assembly as simple as possible. This was followed up by her checking and correcting of every photo in each album, ensuring that the best-possible job was done. Lynn's effort is not to be taken lightly.
Irma and Marvin Penn devoted themselves to this project. They were involved in many of the Photographic outings, and were credited with 150 hours of time to assemble more than 20 of our albums.
Faygee and Phil Hecht provided much help and assistance throughout the project, always making themselves available, and they were always there when called upon. Faygee provided much needed leadership in directing the photographers to do their jobs correctly.
Lee Saidman joined our project as our photographic consultant. Lee set up procedures for the photographers to follow, coerced many quality amateur and semi-pro photographers to volunteer, and led much of the photographic work that was done.
Peter Leipsic was our star photographer. Working at light speed, Peter took about 4,000 photographs of superb quality - often while still doing business on his cellular with his other hand.
Arky Berkal who participated in every possible aspect of the project and made the jobs of everyone just that much easier.
Ken Roseman who in addition to driving all over the Province taking photos, provided valuable input and opinions for the project, and complained relatively little about losing his wife Lynn to the project for weeks-on-end.
Harry Gutkin who was then President of the Jewish Historical Society of Western Canada - and was instrumental through his support of the project and his efforts to secure the funding we required.
The Workers - who devoted hours to tens-of-hours of their time:
Mark Binder, Rebecca Cramer, and 6 month old Anna Binder (who was carried by Mark) - photos
Joanna Burns - photos
Perry Diamond - photos
Miriam Fenster - photos
Marshall Garland - photos
Marlene Golden - photos
Larry Hochman - photos
Jack Kaplan - photos and albums
Sid Kasner - photos
Peggy Kessler - albums
Nonnie Keynes - photos
Joe Lucas - photos
Sandy Osipa - photos
Sid Palay - photos
Perry Rayburn - photos
Samantha Rayburn - photos
Sid Ritter - photos
Michael Smith - photos
Esther Spiegel - albums
Maureen Wiseman - photos
Harvey Zimberg - photos and albums
How to Get Access to the Information and Photos
Our Cemetery Photography Project resulted in two final products: The Database, and the Photo Collection.
A. The Database of Jewish Burials in Manitoba
This computerized database contains names and plot locations of those buried, that have been verified to the spelling on the grave marker if available, and otherwise to the cemetery records. Many death or burial dates and some other information from the cemetery records is also included but as of yet has not been verified to what is on the grave marker.
Printed versions of the database have also been made available. These are listed in alphabetical order and serve as an index to the photograph collection.
The database is available in several locations:
The Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada's research room. Contact our society, who can arrange for a search of the database for you. If you live in or are travelling to Winnipeg you can visit our office (appointment preferred).
At least 90% of the photos are of excellent quality. You will be able to read the inscriptions on the stones and see the artwork. For Genealogists, a lot of information can be gathered from the inscription. The photos are in section/row/plot order in the albums. Be sure to check out neighboring stones for possible relatives.