Guest Blog Post BY PATRICK WILLIAMS:
When I was a young child, I learned about Genealogy from my Grandmother. My teachers and leaders at church would always talk about it. Growing up as a Mormon, it was talked about a lot in regards to Temple work and the action of “Redeeming the Dead”. As soon as they started talking about “Genealogy” I would automatically tune out!
So my fellow Genealogy nuts, lets talk about the 5 reasons why your Grandma-ma wants you to do Genealogy and why we will convince all the cool Hipsters to stop hanging out on Instagram, and start hanging out on BillionGraves instead!
#5- Genealogy work is just so boringggggggggg!
Oh contraire! This couldn’t be further from the truth. Do me a solid, and go ask your Grandparents, or your parents about how they met. Go ask them about their parents or their great grand parents. The stories that they will tell you about where you came from will not only blow your mind, but they will give you such a great appreaction for your heritage and your own very blood line.
When we read about the hardships, tragedies, and triumphs of our ancestors, it makes us realize how relatively easy we have it, and how fortunate we are. And it gives us a real sense of debt and gratitude.
#4 Why do the Genealogy agony?
Because it gives YOU a lever to pry simple questions about you out of your own parents. What do you and your parents have in common here? We now know that, if the family history is to be saved at all, this late, with the old folks passing on, the time is now or never, and we want to save what we can while we can.
If, years from now, someone in the next generation wants to REALLY dig into the family stuff, at least we must give him or her a good, solid, scaffolding from which to begin, preferably with lots of interesting family stories too.
# 3 where do I even start?
This can be the most difficult question, but with amazing resources such as BillionGraves it makes starting very easy. How easy is it you ask?? You can install the genealogy camera app on your iPhone, android or GPS-enabled phone to record grave marker locations worldwide! You can Transcribe & Search grave images for free on the Billiongraves.com website! That’s just as easy as posting a picture of your food from Café Rio you took the other day with the hashtag #soyummy!
What started out as a “simple” project has now become all consuming. One of the nicest things to happen from this research is how you can spend hours and hours talking to your parents about your “finds” as opposed to talking about their health. The bottom line is I now enjoy playing detective and sharing my finds with any and all relatives who care to have the information.
#2 I would rather text and take pictures on Instagram!
Ok all you “hipster” kids. Do me a favor, take out your phone and search for the #hashtag #graves on Instagram and or Facebook or Twitter. You will be amazed at all of the amazing photos and rich history of the Millions and Millions of gravestones that are being uploaded on a daily and hourly basis.
Just to give you an idea of how cool and fun this work is, Genealogy websites are receiving millions and millions of hits every single day!
#1 I don’t want to learn about my family!
Now, in my humble opinion, this is just plain dumb. After everything is said and done in this life, all we have is our family and maybe a few close friends.
How people went from one side of our country to the other with the slow moving vehicles–how they existed–what their trials, loves, and happiness’s were, etc.
So all my “Hipster” friends- it’s very simple and easy to get started. Pick up your iPhone and go to www.billiongraves.com and get started today!
What where are some challenges and questions you may have had when you first got started doing this work? Please leave your comments below! Let’s start a great conversation!
If you have any questions about starting your own project or feedback, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author: Patrick Williams
Patrick Williams is an SEO Specialist and avid Blogger. When not slaving over google search results and building links to the god’s of the internet, Patrick is a single dad to an adorable little boy. He also coaches high school soccer, and is an avid sports fan. He also has many leather bound books, that smell of rich mahogany. He is also fluent in the Cambodian language.Read More
For the new year we wanted to do something special this week and highlight a guest blogger on BillionGraves today; Jason W. Crews from TheTexasGenealogist.com. `
Jason is a passionate genealogist, born and raised in Grand Prairie Texas. A new volunteer to BillionGraves this last month, he has already spent countless hours volunteering and helping others create projects and help others in their quests to find their families. We are happy to have Jason writing for us today! Take it away Jason!
BillionGraves is the fastest, easiest, and most efficient way to gather headstone data in the world. A single volunteer can collect over 500 images in a just one hour, a well-organized group can photograph an entire cemetery in a single afternoon. The volunteers doing the legwork are the heart of the project!
To spearhead the project, select a project coordinator. It’s important to find a local cemetery that has not already been photographed in order to avoid duplication. To do this, quickly look up the cemetery on BillionGraves Cemetery Search to see if it has already been documented. If you are new to BillionGraves yourself, before you take a large group to the cemetery you should go out and take a few pictures in order to be better able to answer questions. Make sure that all of your volunteer photographers have the BillionGraves app loaded on their iPhone or Android smartphone BEFORE you go to the cemetery.
During the project the project coordinator should NOT take pictures. He/She should organize the group and be available to answer questions and direct the group. Teach your volunteer photographers how to take pictures, link successive images, and upload images.
Volunteers without smartphones can help by clearing grass, flowers or debris off each headstone before each picture is taken. This job is an important one; taking pictures goes much more quickly if the headstones are ready with all the information visible.
Things to remember when planning a project:
- Avoid casting a shadow. When a shadow only covers part of the stone, it can make the part in the shade difficult to read in a photo.
- Avoid the sun if you can. It’s not always possible, but if you can, take photos in indirect light early morning, late evening, or overcast days work best.
- Include all important information in the photo frame. Make sure names, dates, etc. are all included.
- Link together images of each side of the headstone that has information.
- Most importantly, HAVE FUN!!
If you have any questions about starting your own project or feedback, contact us at email@example.com.Read More
It’s a new month and a new year so we’re starting a brand-new contest. Introducing the monthly Win the Pin contest!
Each month you’ll get the chance to compete for the unique pin of the month. All you have to do to win the pin is to upload or transcribe enough images for BillionGraves to get a spot on the leaderboard by the end of the month. Those 50 Uploaders and 50 Transcribers will be the lucky winners of that month’s pin.
We were blown away by how many new records were created in 2013 by all of our dedicated uploaders and transcribers—it was our best year yet! Let’s make 2014 even bigger and better. Will you make it your New Year’s resolution to get on the on the leaderboard each month?
How many pins can YOU win?
Here is our very first pin for the month of January:
Keep an eye on the leaderboard this month to make sure you get to win this pin. Happy BillionGraves-ing!
-Make sure you have permission and are welcome to take pictures in your local cemetery before doing so. Remember, private cemeteries require permission of the owner before taking any pictures.
-Winners will be announced at the end of the month on the BillionGraves blog. Prizes must be claimed by the 15th of the following month via email to qualify for shipment of prizes.
-Promotion is open to all to participate for free. Registration is required.
-More than one individual may contribute to a single account, however, the limit is one prize redemption per BillionGraves account.
-Items will ship in 6-8 weeks after contest closes for winners in the U.S. Please allow 8-12 for winners outside the U.S.
-Recipients will be required to provide a mailing address for physical items.
-All images must be uploaded/transcribed no later than midnight (GMT) on January 31, 2014.
|Top Uploaders||Top Transcribers|
|1. Paulwuzhere 17,001||1. HonestAbe 19,322|
|2. kathleenba 14,989||2. vblackledge 13,512|
|3. STEVE N 9,779||3. StoneScriber 12,931|
|4. valmer 3,829||4. AcesKitten 12,361|
|5. Jim Pack 3,828||5. Pianomom3 7,925|
|6. NoahMcEagle 3,686||6. grumpy_redneck 7,112|
|7. sunsearch 3,637||7. Melyssawebb 6,583|
|8. Forestbank 3,317||8. KRobDFW 5,757|
|9. George 2,793||9. gopanowitz 5,713|
|10. RyanJenkinsEP 2,755||10. 10131307t 5,436|
|11. celestyna 2,540||11. STEVE N 4,384|
|12. Ephrata Cemetery 2,444||12. huskerken 4,217|
If you are on this list, please make sure your email on your BillionGraves account is your correct current email address. We will be emailing you through the email on your account. You will need to provide us a shipping address where you would like your gift card sent. So watch your inboxes for that this week.
Thanks again to all who contributed this month! We sure appreciate all your many contributions!
The holidays are always a time full of symbolism, both religious and secular, so I thought it would be a great time to publish Part 2 of our Headstone Symbolism series. I love discovering and thinking about deeper meanings behind symbols in our lives, I think it’s provides interesting insight into the lives and values of others.
If you missed part one, you can go back and read it here.
Keep in mind, the following definitions are just ideas of what each of these symbols mean. Just because someone (whether that’s the person actually buried there or one of their relatives) chose a certain symbol for this headstone doesn’t mean that’s what it meant to them. But it sure is fun to think about!
Angel: They are typically considered a guardian, messenger, or even a guide to heaven. They are a symbol of spirituality and of resurrection. Angels are said to “guard the tomb, guide the soul, pray for the soul in purgatory, and direct the living visitor to think heavenwards.” (From Cemetery Symbolism; A Wary Glossary)
Ball (Sphere): Usually a symbol of the soul waiting for resurrection.
Lyre: This could mean the person buried here was a musician. A lyre is also a symbol of the connection between heaven and earth. When it has a broken string, it symbolizes the end of life.
Palm Branches: They are typically a Christian symbol of spiritual victory or victory over death. They also could signify eternal peace or a heavenly reward.
Rose: The rose could also be a Christian symbol in that it signifies the blood of Christ. It is also a “reminder that the soul achieves its most perfect state after physical death.” (From Heritage Bulletin)
Weeping Willow: This symbol usually represents what its name implies, sorrow, mourning, nature’s lament, and remembering those that have passed.
Freemason Square and Compass: This symbol signifies a member of the Freemasons or Masons—a fraternal organization. Usually the “G” in the middle either stands for “God” or “Geometry.”
Tree stump (Woodmen of the World): This symbol (which may include an ax, the maul and wedge, and/or a dove of peace with an olive branch) signifies a member of the fraternal insurance society called “Woodmen of the World.” In its beginnings, this organization provided its members with headstones, but that turned out to be too costly. Since Woodmen never “lie,” these tombstones will usually say “Here rests a Woodman of the World.” (See Wikipedia article)