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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

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The Project

The Cemetery Photography Project was an ambitious undertaking of the Genealogical Institute of the Jewish Historical Society (now Jewish Heritage Centre) of Western Canada . The goal was to photograph all the gravestones in all the Jewish Cemeteries in the province of Manitoba, in order to:

  1. record them if ever needed for reconstructive purposes,
  2. to make them available for research or display, and
  3. to make the inscriptions available to genealogists and other researchers.

The project was of enormous proportions:

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 photography project.

We are very proud of this, and we hope our project's success will encourage other societies to follow our lead.

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The Project in Pictures

Taking the Photos 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. Checking the Database
Assembling the Albums 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.
The fifty-four albums 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.

Participating Volunteers

The Principals:

Special Recognition:

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

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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:

  1. 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).

    C116 - 123 Doncaster Street,
    Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3N 2B2
    Phone: (204) 477-7460; Fax: (204) 477-7465

  2. The Manitoba Genealogical Society Resource Center. As the Resource Centre is staffed by volunteers, it is suggested that out of town visitors call ahead to confirm current operating hours. There is information about the society with their address, phone numbers, and operating hours on the web at: http://www.mbgenealogy.com/index.php?page=society.

  3. The Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies' International Jewish Cemetery Project is an ambitious project launched in 1994. The database from our Cemetery Photography Project has been submitted to their project.

B. The Photograph Collection

Housed in 54 beautifully-assembled photo albums, these photographs contain the legacy, history, and information about our dear departed.

The albums are available only at the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada's research room. If you visit our office, you may at your leisure do your research with the albums. If you cannot visit, Vanesa Harari, our archivist, can find desired photos for you, and photos can be reprinted upon request for a small fee. See above for our address and phone numbers.

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.

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A Tombstone is:

A Memorial
A Work of Art
A Bit of our History

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