I’m sure that most of you are aware of FindAGrave.com but if you are not, I encourage you to not only go check the site out, but to contribute. This is providing a free service that is tremendously helpful to researchers.
Find-a-Grave is a commercial website which provides free access and input to a huge online database of cemetery records. It was founded in 1998 by Jim Tipton to fill a void as no other website had been found. He is an avid cemetery hunter and his main interest originally was in locating the graves of famous people. This developed into a forum and as of November 30th of this year, this site contains over 72 million records of “regular people”!
The researcher will find listings of thousands of cemeteries around the world. It is easy to search for a cemetery as they are all organized by country and state. US cemeteries often also have GPS coordinates. You can also search by name, which is the usual way, giving the name and any other information that you might have such as dates or location. Only the name is sufficient and will result in a lot of hits! Many contain photos of either the cemetery entrance and location, and also photographs of the stones. Information can include dates and place of birth and death, biographical information, location of the cemetery, sometimes plot numbers. These are all contributed by volunteers. If there is a picture of the stone, it was contributed by someone who visited the cemetery and shot pictures. If there is biographical information, this was also contributed by a volunteer, most likely a relative or someone who was able to obtain the data.
Many individuals, historical societies and genealogical societies are the contributors. Information is also provided by the US Veterans Department, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the American Battle Monuments Commission along with the International War Graves Photography Project.
Individuals wishing to contribute data or photos need to register as members to submit same. There is no fee for this. The listings are called Memorials. If you submit material, you become the manager of the listing, but you can transfer management to others. Only the manager may edit the listing; however, others may send correction requests to the manager. Anyone can submit notations in reference the information shown and can add flowers, flags, religious symbols, etc.
As one example, the cemetery where my brother is buried was photographed by a volunteer who took pictures of all the stones. I submitted a request to take over “management” of my brother’s stone picture and those of my grandparents, etal. buried there. The “manager” who took the photos wrote me write back and transferred those to me. This involves no work on my part, no fee. But it does allow me to add information such as a biography, an obituary, etc. to document the information shown or to make corrections. On another cemetery, I found an error and contacted the manager, showing the correction with documentation. She immediately corrected the information. Many of the volunteers of course have no personal knowledge of each and every individual buried in a cemetery they are photographing.
Errors are possible of course in the case of a volunteer unfamiliar with the individual buried there. So it would be wise to check out what is shown past the stone information.
I would encourage you to please become involved in such a helpful project. If you don’t find the cemetery listed where your family is buried, or if your family’s stone is not shown; if you have a photograph, register and submit it to the Find-A-Grave site. I use this site almost on a daily basis. It aids me not only in my own family research but in helping other people. I recently assisted my pastor in tracking down former ministers of the 20th century who had passed on for a book he is writing. Out of about 75 individuals he could not find information on, I was able to locate about 60 of them with dates and locations on Find-A-Grave.
It’s worth the effort!
© Copyright 1 Dec 2011, Sandra K. Gorin