The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

June 16, 2013

QR codes now used on tombstones


A QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) has been replacing standard UPC barcodes on products and advertisements because of its ability to provide more information. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background and its encoded information can be any type of data. According to Dick Eastman in a recent Online Genealogy Newsletter (May 28, 2013), “Genealogists have recently been finding QR Codes on tombstones.”

He explains, “To use a QR Code, use a smartphone (typically an Apple iPhone or an Android phone) with appropriate software installed to take a close-up picture of the QR Code. The software reads the QR Code and then opens a web browser that displays the web page address that is embedded within the dots of the QR Code …. The QR Code attached to the tombstone points to a web page maintained by the family of the deceased. The web page might contain a biography of the person or it can point to an address where other people can text messages to the family.”

There are several companies that now create QR Codes for tombstones and many articles have been written on this subject. Read about them by clicking on the links at

Will future researchers be able to translate such data? I personally see a strong resemblance to our long-sought translation of hieroglyphs created by the Egyptians on their structures from 3200 BC to AD 400. How long will smartphones or iPhones be around to interpret the QR Code data?

On a not-so-related note, a Google search ( for the word hieroglyphics produces some interesting articles, including a website that has a typewriter to translate and print any name (or word) to “ancient Egyptian script” (at

Jewish archives online

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee continues to expand its collections of Early Remembrance Lists from the World War I period. They can be searched at The Transmission Department of the JDC was established in 1915 to deliver personal remittances to Europe and Palestine.

“Relatives from the West were able to deposit small amounts of money (typically $5 or $10, up to $100) for JDC to remit to their relatives overseas. The remittance lists include both names and addresses of remitters and beneficiaries, prime genealogical material that cannot be found elsewhere. In the 1917-1920 period, these remittances exceeded $6,966,195. The JDC Archives has indexed remittance lists from Poland (including the ‘Occupied Territory’), Rumania, Palestine, and Russia.”

These lists are PDF versions of the original typed lists of who sent funds (the remitter — primarily from the U.S., often from New York) and who received funds (the payee). Access to this website is free.

Lists from World War II have also been added, including CARE packages to Displaced Persons Camps, 1946-1948, Jewish refugees in Latin America receiving JDC assistance in 1948, and Jewish orphans from Buchenwld brought to France by JDC in 1945.

Queries, as well as a general exchange of genealogical material that readers would like to share, will be printed in the column for free. Contact Joan Griffis by e-mailing