Wow! We’ve had record uploads every day so far in May! Keep up the good work—we’ll still need thousands more images, so let’s make the weekends our highest uploading days. Keep watching that Leaderboard to see how you’re doing—if you are among the top 25 transcribers OR picture takers on May 31, you get your choice of a free BillionGraves t-shirt or one free year of our great BillionGraves Plus Account.
It’s more fun to head to the cemetery with other people—plus, you can photograph an entire cemetery in just a few hours if you join forces!
Create a Facebook event to help you get the word out to your friends and family. You’ll be able to set up a meeting time and location for everyone to meet up and take pictures.
Facebook’s instructions on how to create an event:
- Go to the Events tab on the left side of your home page
- Click Create Event in the upper-right corner of the page
From here, you can customize the event, edit its privacy settings and invite guests. Please note that you must include an event name and time. For more information about Facebook events, click here.
Here is a template you can use to tell your friends and family about your event and answer some of the questions they may have:
Come join me at the cemetery to clean, photograph and document grave markers!
We will be photographing the headstones using the free BillionGraves iPhone and Android application.
What should I bring?
Bring your iPhone, Android phone or tablet (must have GPS), or your 3G iPad2 or 3G iPad3 (the 3G internet versions have GPS, the WiFi only do not have GPS), fully charged with the BillionGraves app already installed (download links are down below). Bring your car charger if you have one (GPS uses a lot of battery).
Register for an account and/or log in to the app before coming.
Do I need an iPhone or Android phone?
No. Many times the vital information on the grave markers are covered with grass clippings, leaves, flowers, pinwheels, or other decorations. We could use help clearing the markers of these items, so a photograph can be taken, then put the decorations back as they were.
If you do not have a device to take pictures with:
- Bring a soft broom or car snow brush to clean off grass and leaves.
- Bring a pair of gloves just in case a headstone has mud covering parts of it and needs the mud/dirt cleared off by hand.
- Bring a blanket to cast a shadow on gravestones that are facing the sun. The picture taker’s shadow and the reflection of the sunlight can make it difficult to read the vital information on the headstone.
- Bring your children. This is an excellent opportunity to help your children develop an appreciation for family history.
- You can also borrow a device from a willing friend or family member.
Can I use my digital camera?
Not to take pictures of the headstones, but you can bring one to document our activity and your family’s participation in this great work. There are other grave-finding websites that accept photos taken without GPS coordinates, but BillionGraves is the only service that has that important information.
More about BillionGraves
The BillionGraves apps are easy to use and free to install on your iOS and Android devices. The app geotags each picture you take with the exact GPS coordinates of the gravestone, making it a valuable resource for genealogy and family history enthusiasts searching for their ancestors. After taking the photos, you will upload the pictures to the BillionGraves.com website where thousands of volunteers are transcribing the images almost as quickly as they are added. Transcribing is also free. Once the records are transcribed, they are available to be searched, for free of course, by anybody who visits the BillionGraves.com website. Users can also find the exact, physical locations of their ancestors’ final resting places, and the app will actually direct them to their locations.
We hope to see as many people as possible attend. With enough participants, we can easily photograph the entire cemetery. Thank you!
Million More in May kicks off today! We have 31 days left to add one million new records to the BillionGraves database.
We’ve been encouraged in our efforts by a post from Shelley Crawford on her blog, Twigs of Yore. She’s let us share her recent experience using BillionGraves with you.
During school holidays recently, Shelley took her son with her to the cemetery to try to find some kind of activity he would be interested in. Using an iPhone and an Android tablet, the pair collected 70 photos in their short visit at the cemetery. And the kicker? Her son is six years old! Shelley comments on her son’s experience:
He did great! He seemed to enjoy the activity – wanted to stay longer and take more pictures but we were out of time. He’ll deny later that he enjoyed it or said any of that… but he did. It was only a short trip. It had taken us a while to leave the house (someone didn’t like any of his socks…) and I hadn’t planned to stay for long anyway, not knowing how the outing would turn out.
So there you have it, proof that BillionGraves is so easy to use, a six-year-old could do it.
We are certainly impressed with the six-year-old’s efforts, but we had no doubt that BillionGraves could be used easily by both children and adults! Thanks, Shelley, for sharing your experience and allowing us to share it with others! Go check out her genealogy blog to see what other tips she has to share.
So now you should have no excuse to download the app (if you don’t already have it) and head out to your local cemetery to start contributing to Million More in May! If you want a refresher on using the app or the transcribing process, visit our User Guide and Frequently Asked Questions.
April showers bring May flowers, setting a perfect stage for our Million More in May promotion! During the month of May, we want all of our users to go out and take thousands of photos in their local cemeteries. Together with friends and family, we can all try to reach one million new records in one month!
This has been an amazing first year for BillionGraves. The number of records is growing exponentially—let’s work together to keep growing our database. During the month of May, with volunteers around the world contributing, we can add one million new records to BillionGraves.
We can definitely reach this goal: let’s look at the numbers. If two thousand users take 500 pictures each, we’ll be at 1,000,000 new images this month. But won’t it take a long time for one person to take 500 pictures? Nope! A beginning picture taker will be able to document 500 images in 2 hours or less. Two hours! Imagine how many records would be recorded in just two hours each weekend in May. And once we all work together to transcribe these images, we’ll have our 1 Million records in May added to our database, searchable all over the world.
If you are one of the most stellar picture-takers or transcribers during this promotion, you’ll be publicly recognized on our Leaderboard on the BillionGraves website. You’ll be famous at BillionGraves.com, and you’ll motivate others to continue adding new images and transcribing records. At the end of the month, the top 25 photographers and the top 25 transcribers will be rewarded with their choice of a free BillionGraves t-shirt or one year of our BillionGraves Plus Account! [Updated!]
We want to remind you about the value of the BillionGraves database. The information we have gathered and are currently gathering is not available anywhere else. Volunteers are documenting entire cemeteries, providing exact locations for cemeteries and even specific headstones within that cemetery. Then, when you search for your ancestor, you have the ability to see all the headstones in the vicinity—many connections can be discovered by locating relatives buried nearby the one you searched for. We know this information is priceless, and that’s why BillionGraves exists. So, when we all contribute new records, we all benefit from the information collected.
We are holding our Million More in May promotion for several reasons:
- Because the goal of the entire BillionGraves project is to help people throughout the world connect with their ancestors, no matter where they are buried.
- We want more people to learn about and participate in BillionGraves.
- We want to commemorate Memorial Day in the US (May 28) by making more pictures and records accessible to people all over the world.
But don’t wait till Memorial Day to start taking your pictures! Get started early in May so we can be sure we’ll reach our goal by the end of the month. In addition, headstones will be adorned with beautiful arrangements and decorations for Memorial Day—not ideal picture-taking circumstances.
We’ll be communicating with you registered users regularly via email during the month of May to give you tips, suggestions, and motivation to reach our goal. And in future blog posts, we’ll tell you how to get friends involved, how to create a Facebook event to meet at a cemetery, etc. Keep visiting the blog and checking your email to see how you can help us reach a Million More in May!
Today we want to highlight an experience shared by Geniaus, a great Australian genealogy blogger. She shared her experience with BillionGraves on her blog recently, and she is so gracious as to let us share that post with you!
On our recent trip we travelled back to Sydney via a few towns where some ancestors buried.
One of the cemeteries I had previously visited in Cobar many years ago but the images I had taken of my grandparents’ headstones were poor quality. I wanted to rephotograph these and also look for other family resting spots. The two other cemeteries where I managed to find some family graves, in Broken Hill and Forbes, were new to me.
Locating the graves in each of these sites wasn’t particularly easy. In Cobar and Forbes there was no resource available to pinpoint the graves’ exact location; the map of Broken Hill Cemetery that was available by the Cemetery gate was quite confusing even for Mr Geniaus who is not spatially challenged like me.
|Ben Hall the Bushranger – Forbes Cemetery|
In order to make it easy for cousins who may be seeking these graves in the future I added each of them to Billiongraves. The GPS coordinates that Billiongraves attaches to these images will make finding them in the future much easier for those who make use of the Billiongraves site or app.
As we were on a tight time schedule I could not commit myself to photographing all of the graves in each of these cemeteries. I did, however, take and upload a few rows of headstones around the graves I was visiting in Cobar and Broken Hill.
In less than half an hour I was able to photograph over 100 images in Cobar cemetery. These are now available on Billiongraves site; those who wish to visit these graves can use the GPS coordinates to locate them efficiently.
How about joining and downloading the Billiongraves app to your Android or other device so that you can contribute to the database when you find yourself (above ground) in a cemetery. While in a cemetery take some time to photograph a row or two of graves. This is a painless and enjoyable way of helping others connect with their ancestors.
Thanks for being part of the BillionGraves effort, Geniaus! Go check out her blog to get some great advice on your genealogy work. And use her experience as motivation to take more pictures. After all, we all benefit from this volunteer effort.
There’s a new BillionGraves Android update available on Google Play. With this update, in-app purchases are GONE. You can perform Mobile Records Searches for free from your phone or tablet. Get the update, and then go to the Records section in your app and try it out if you haven’t already.
Other features in this new update:
- Favorites: You can save your favorite headstone images on your phone so you can access them quickly and regularly.
- Nearby Headstones: See what headstones are in your proximity.
- Cemeteries Visited: From your Dashboard in the app, you can see a list of all the cemeteries you’ve visited.
Go get the update today!