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.
Nicolas and Liam Birch
We completed our project 23 July, 2013. We visited cemeteries in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming (Single Adult group helped out there), others helped us in Nebraska, Texas, Virginia, Arizona and some friends tried in Germany as well.
Our Uncle and Aunt went to Virginia and took Patrick Henry’s grave site (Give me Liberty or Give me Death!!!) and also took Ralph Waldo Emerson’s mothers grave site and Pocahontas’ grave. We also had a single adult group help us in Wyoming! That was awesome! There was 12 or 15 of them helping us.
We went to Plain City Cemetery the weekend before Memorial Day, and several people were there cleaning the graves, we told them what we were doing, and they told us “Congratulations,” “Bless you!” and “You are doing a wonderful thing, thank you!”
Thanks again for this great and rewarding experience!
My name is Jefferson Knight, and I performed my Eagle Project in both the Chinn Cemetery, located in Copper Canyon, Texas, and the Old Alton Cemetery, located in Denton, Texas. To give you an idea of where this is, it is about 40 minutes away from Dallas. My project was officially signed off by Billion Graves on August 21st, 2013.
During the summer of 2012, I wanted to begin on my Eagle Project, as I was a life scout. My mom showed me Billion Graves, and how the website stated this was a great Eagle Project. I never got to actually working on my Eagle Project that summer, and when summer or 2013 came around, I knew this would have to be the summer I complete my Eagle Project, especially since high school was starting next year, and I wouldn’t have any time to complete it during the school year. I thought up many ideas that sounded interesting, but in the end I decided, “Why did I abandon the Billion Graves idea in the first place?!” It was a unique, interesting, and worthwhile Eagle Project that I was interested in. So I began to make plans to perform that Eagle Project.
Upon completing the proposal, all those who needed to sign off on my idea, found it unique and approved. After much planning on my behalf, I split up the project into two phases: a picture taking and uploading phase, as well as a transcribing phase. I recruited a good number of volunteers from my church, and set the dates to perform the project.
Many volunteers found the project interesting as it wasn’t too physically taxing, and also helped serve people for genealogical purposes, which my church very much supports. Both cemeteries had a rich history, and volunteers were able to see that, as they found valuable, and interesting information on the gravestones. For someone who is in the same position as I was, looking for an interesting, worthwhile Eagle Project, I would recommend this kind of project, as it will be very worthwhile (compared to mowing a lawn or something), and is very repeatable! Just find some cemeteries that have not yet been photographed and transcribed near you!
I did my project at the Lyman, Wyoming Cemetery on July 25-26, 2013 with the help of 25 of my family members. I planned my project at that time because we were having a family reunion in Lyman that weekend. It was great to have so much help in photographing all of the remaining headstones in the cemetery.
After I got home, I transcribed dozens of remaining records which took until August 14th (I didn’t work on it every day).
A cool experience from this project was being able to be back in Lyman, Wyoming where my grandmother was raised (she came from a family of 17 children) and to be able to photograph some of their graves.
My name is Thomas Peck, and I did an eagle project for BillionGraves on Saturday, June 15. For my project I had everyone involved meet at a local church. From there we split into two groups: one went to the graveyard with smartphones while the other stayed at the church with laptops and transcribed the images.
One of my brilliant ideas was to get sticky notes and mark the gravestones that had after taking the pictures. The only problem with this was that sticky notes do not stick well to hundred year old headstones. Another brilliant idea was to get some paper and write down the transcription of the gravestone then take a picture of the transcription and link it with the gravestones picture. This was quite effective because it is much simpler to read something on a paper then off a photograph of an ancient gravestone.
One thing I had a problem with was not giving enough instructions. If I did it again I would spend more time giving instructions on how to take pictures.
My name is James Smith and I am currently in Troop 711 in Rockledge, FL. The bulk of my project was completed here in the Florida Memorial Gardens cemetery, but other helpers in Colorado took pictures at one or two cemeteries in Colorado Springs. I completed my project on August 3.
My goal was to get 10,000 pictures and in the end we got over 12,000. This was my second attempt at an eagle project as my other quite literally burned to the ground. I was going to clear brush in Waldo Canyon near Colorado Springs for fire mitigation purposes, but the fire beat me to it by about a week.
My advice is to pick a day with good weather. The first day we took pictures, the sun was out, so we had to worry about shadows and it was quite hot. However, the second day it was overcast and we went really quickly.
This was a great project because it can affect so many people for generations.
Nathaniel E. Brandon
I did my project at The Memorial Gardens of the Wasatch, in Ogden, UT
I completed my project on July 20, 2013
This is a fun project, takes lots of time to put together. It is fun once you’re at the cemetery and actively engaged. It is also a very educational experience. A must do for genealogists! It’s a very family friendly project. You learn a lot about people.
These scouts have done some amazing things by serving the families of loved ones buried in these cemeteries! We are so proud of all of you! Congratulations!
In case you haven’t heard already, we are photographing the entire Fort Logan Cemetery in Denver, Colorado THIS Friday and Saturday! Bring a phone, charger, jacket, water bottle, and don’t forget to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Wednesday (October 14).
You can find out more details here and let us know if you have any questions! We hope to see you there!
Calling all artists! BillionGraves is hosting a brand new competition and we need all you artistically-minded people to submit your work!
Next year, we will be holding monthly challenges where picture-takers and transcribers will both get to participate. Each month we will introduce a new pin, and if you complete the monthly challenge you will win a pin! The challenges could be as simple as making the leaderboard or uploading/transcribing a certain number of images.
And that’s where the art comes in. We want to feature YOUR ART on one of our 12 pins! You design the pin and we’ll make it happen.
Simply submit your artwork to email@example.com and if your design is chosen, your work will be featured on our blog, social media sites, and—of course—all the pins we send out to the monthly challenge winners!
Here are a few simple designs we put together to get your creative juices flowing. Feel free to make your designs more complex, including the shape of the pin itself. You may create the image any way you want, just keep in mind that at some point it will have to be digitized in order to make a pin out of it.
-All work must be submitted by December 1, 2013 by 12:00 midnight (CST time).
-By submitting an image to firstname.lastname@example.org, you are giving BillionGraves full rights to use that image.
-All work submitted to BillionGraves must be your own.
Please comment below or email email@example.com with any questions. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!
It’s been a busy month here at BillionGraves with over a quarter of a million images transcribed and almost that many images uploaded too!
Our picture-takers and transcribers are keeping those numbers up high, although the transcribers have still maintained a pretty good lead! There’s only a little more than a week to rack up some points for your team and get your name on the leaderboard!
Keep up the great work everyone!