BillionGraves is going behind the scenes to give you a sneak peak of the people who volunteer their time and effort for the BillionGraves project. BillionGraves is a community of truly amazing people and we want to help you get to know each other through through our “Spotlight Saturday” posts. Everyone has interesting insight of why they contribute and we can all learn great things from others!
Meet Charlene Boyd, one of our top picture-takers and transcribers for over a year now. She graciously let us interview her and here are some of the interesting things we found out about her.
What makes taking pictures in cemeteries/doing genealogy so interesting for you?
Thirty plus years ago I first became interested in genealogy through researching my own family tree. Back then there was much more work involved in research because there was no internet and you had to travel to the cemeteries and the Archives and History Centers to research your family.
After a few years I found that I enjoyed helping people piece together information and find family members through research and posting cemetery information on other websites. Today I find a real love of cemeteries through their art and history. I take my time with each cemetery getting to know the landscape and the history, finding unique treasures in each one.
How did you get started doing BillionGraves?
I found out about BillionGraves through a genealogy discussion group on Facebook. I started out transcribing other people’s headstone photos on BillionGraves because I didn’t have a smart device that was capable of taking the photos. Later I purchased a tablet device and began taking photos at all the cemeteries in my locale.
Why do you like contributing to BG?
Why do I enjoy visiting and taking photos of headstones and cemeteries? I don’t exactly know how I started because I have been doing it for so long.
When searching my family history I have found that sometimes a headstone is the only means I have to document that relative’s birth and death, or even existence. It is very important to me that this is something that is never lost due to time or neglect. Cemeteries tell so much about our history and it is up to us to listen to their stories. I have had so many people help me by posting photos, family trees and their research online that I feel that this is my way of paying them back.
I also want to help and encourage others to do the same. Doing this has also sparked my interest in not only taking photos to share, but also wanting to learn more about restoring and preserving cemeteries. Headstones can tell us more than the birth and death sometimes if we are lucky they might tell us how this person died, their occupation if they were a member of any groups (religious or otherwise) who they married, and who their children were.
My family calls me obsessed, because anytime we go somewhere my first thought is: Are there any cemeteries close by that we can visit? Sometimes they go with me willingly and other times kicking and screaming.
Have you had any special/interesting experiences while using BillionGraves that you would like to share?
My best experience in cemetery research would be the time I met a cousin online while doing research on my Baker line. Through emails over time we shared information, later on I was invited to a Baker reunion in Oklahoma. I had been searching my Baker line and reached a brick wall.
My cousin invited me to a family reunion in Oklahoma. Through this visit I was able to visit my great-great-great grandfather’s grave; Thomas Winfield Baker, buried in Indian Territory Checotah Cemetery, Checotah, Oklahoma. Standing in a cemetery seeing his marker and knowing his history made it more real for me. I also found photos of Thomas Winfield Baker and his wife Mary Ann ‘Polly’ Long Baker, and received a copy of their family bible, because of the connections I made at the reunion.
Do you have any advice you would give to other people using BG?
BillionGraves is one site that offers you two ways to contribute. You can transcribe headstones; take photos of headstones or do both. So if you are not able to travel to a cemetery you can sit at your computer and transcribe. Either way, please know that both are important and help so many people.
Taking photos is very easy by using their app, just a click of the camera, (using a camera phone or tablet camera). Your photo is uploaded to their site with GPS tracking information included.
I am very grateful for BillionGraves they have made me feel like part of their team and I want to pass that along.
Thanks, Charlene, for all you do! We couldn’t do it without you!
Happy Friday the 13th everyone! We’re wishing lots of GOOD luck your way!
And speaking of good luck, if you are still looking for that perfect present for a friend or relative, you’re in luck today! We’re offering free shipping to you for the rest of the month of December on the BillionGraves store! (Offer expires midnight GMT on December 31)
Just type in the promo code FREESHIPPING13 at checkout and you’ll be on your way to a good-luck kind of a day!
If you’ve ever taken pictures in a cemetery that is within a few blocks of a neighboring cemetery, you might have found that sometimes the images will end up in the wrong cemetery. This is especially common if you’re taking pictures along the edge of the cemetery.
For example, when you are in a cemetery, (see Cemetery 1 below) taking pictures, the BillionGraves app will automatically search for the nearest cemetery based on the cemetery marker (i.e. the star in example below). So even though you might be in Cemetery 1, the app might think you’re in Cemetery 2 because that cemetery marker is closer.
As you can see, this can be problematic if the images keep getting categorized in the wrong cemetery, so we developed a system called “Cemetery Boundaries” to fix it. When two cemeteries are very close together, we draw boundaries around each cemetery.
This new feature is still in the beta testing phase, but we need your help to test it out! Send us any cemeteries that are in need of having specified boundaries (i.e. two cemeteries that are close together) and we would love to set them up on BillionGraves. All you have to do is show us where the boundaries are and we can set them up for you. Here’s how:
Step 1: Look up the cemetery in Google maps. Go to https://maps.google.com/ and type in either the address or the name of the cemetery in the search bar in the top left corner. Then verify it’s the right location based on the map you see.
Note: If you have the Google Earth software, you can use it in lieu of Google Maps. You can also take a screen shot of the cemetery on BillionGraves.
Step 3: Paste the screen shot into Paint. Open up the Paint program (if you’re using a Mac, try PaintBrush) and right click. Click “Paste” and you should be able to see your screen shot in the Paint window.
Step 4: Use the paintbrush to draw a line around the cemetery boundary. Choose a color that will be easily recognizable.
Step 5: Draw any additional cemetery boundaries.
Step 6: Save the image and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. From here, we will program the boundaries you specified into our systems. Then the next time you are in that cemetery, your BillionGraves app will correctly recognize and categorize your images into the right cemetery!
If you have any difficulty with this process or have any questions, please email email@example.com and we would love to help you!
BillionGraves is thrilled to announce our new partnership with Tributes.com!
We are pleased to announce that our records will be made available on the Tributes.com website in an effort to make our valuable headstone information with GPS locations more readily available to those friends and relatives who are looking for ways to remember their ancestors. About the partnership, Hudson Gunn—President of BillionGraves—said:
“We are excited to have partnered with Tributes.com to feature our rich headstone data and working with their users to document and preserve loved one’s records around the world. Working with Tributes.com will allow us to continue our mission to preserve and share this information with the world.”
Elaine Haney, CEO and President of Tributes, Inc., said
“BillionGraves and their large volunteer network are creating a unique database of headstone information and content that will be very valuable to our users, helping them to visualize, locate, and where necessary, to newly document, both historic and current burial plots of family and friends.”
We are very pleased to have partnered with such a great company and look forward to getting our records out to those people who will appreciate them the most. Partnerships like this ensure that BillionGraves will be able to move forward and continue to make these records available free of charge!
For more information, read the official press release.
BillionGraves is and will always continue to be a free resource to you and the world. BillionGraves is still fully owned by Otter Creek Holdings, LLC. This partnership in no way denotes any kind of company acquisition by Tributes or any of its affiliates.
Tributes Enriches its Extensive Obituary Database with Headstone Records from BillionGraves
Tributes.com, the online source for local and national obituary news, announced today that they have formed a partnership with BillionGraves, a worldwide headstone database company, incorporating BillionGraves’ nearly 6 million headstone records into the Tributes.com database enhancing Tributes.com obituary content with headstone photos, cemetery information and GPS location data.
BillionGraves’ headstone content has been created by nearly 60,000 volunteers in just two short years and has made BillionGraves one of the most trusted resources for accurate and reliable GPS headstone and burial record data on the web.
BillionGraves’ mobile application will be featured in Tributes.com obituaries that do not have matching headstone records offering an easy way for families to supplement the online memorials of their loved ones with this enhanced information.
“We are very pleased to have Tributes.com featuring our rich headstone data within their database and encouraging their users to leverage our platform to document the headstone information of their loved ones that has not yet been captured so that it’s properly preserved for generations to come,” said Hudson Gunn, president of BillionGraves. “We are looking forward to further enhancing the BillionGraves database with obituary content from Tributes.com in 2014 and leveraging their Eternal Tribute platform to enable our users to create permanent, Tributes.com-powered online multi-media memorials to further enhance their loved ones’ online legacies.”
“BillionGraves and their large volunteer network are creating a unique database of headstone information and content that will be very valuable to our users, helping them to visualize, locate, and where necessary, to newly document, both historic and current burial plots of family and friends,” said Elaine Haney, CEO and president of Tributes, Inc.
Tributes.com is driven by the belief that Every Life has a Story which deserves to be told and preserved.
Tributes.com is the online source for current local and national obituary news and a supportive community where friends and family can come together during times of loss and grieving to honor the memories of their loved ones with lasting personal tributes. Through one centralized national web destination, with 95 million and growing current and historical death records dating back to the 1930s, Tributes has made obituary and online memorial service information easily accessible. The site has experienced rapid growth since its launch in the fall of 2008, and is now relied on by thousands of funeral homes and over 4M unique consumers each month to publish and locate obituary news. For more information about Tributes.com, please visit our website at http://www.tributes.com or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Based in Kaysville, Utah, BillionGraves, L.L.C. i s a headstone database company that uses the latest technology to capture and preserve the genealogical records found in cemeteries around the world. Through the BillionGraves website and mobile application, users worldwide can take pictures (complete with GPS locations) and transcribe those images, creating an invaluable collection of priceless records for genealogists and family historians to connect with their ancestors. Learn more at BillionGraves.com.