Many people have been asking us lately why they can’t submit photos taken with traditional cameras to the BillionGraves database. The BillionGraves database is unique in that it contains GPS information.
By adding GPS data to each headstone image, cemetery and location data is attached to the image. This means that when you are researching your ancestors, you’ll be able to search for the transcribed headstone, see an image of that headstone, find out where in the world that headstone is located, and learn more about the cemetery it was found in. This wealth of information will make a big difference in your research.
GPS Makes Visiting the Cemetery Easier
Along the same vein, the GPS data allows you to visit a cemetery in person and walk directly to the headstone you want to view in the cemetery. The free Mobile Records Search on your iPhone or Android device is handy for finding the headstone you’re looking for. So if it’s your first time in a particular cemetery, you’ll be able to find that headstone in no time. And if you’ve been to that cemetery dozens of times? No more counting trees, memorizing certain fence posts, or documenting the number of paces to find your loved one.
You Can Find Other Relatives Buried in the Same Cemetery
Another advantage of keeping the GPS information with the headstone images is that it allows you to see all other headstones located in that cemetery. How great is it that you can see direct neighbors of the headstone you’re researching? This is a huge help in making valuable family history connections. You’ll be able to find relatives you didn’t know existed.
Not all GPS’s are Created Equal
What about cameras with GPS data in them? We’ve looked into using those photos, and the GPS is neither accurate nor reliable enough to use in our database. With our phone app, we can verify that users are in a cemetery, and because of this, information about cemeteries and locations is standardized in our database. So, at this time, we aren’t accepting photos from cameras, even if they have GPS.
You Can Still Add Additional Photos to BillionGraves Records
What if you have a photo of a headstone for a record that already exists? You can add that photo to the record! From the History tab on any Records View, you can add both personal histories and any additional photos of the person or the headstone. These photos do not have to be GPS encoded, since they are tied to the BillionGraves record with the GPS encoded headstone photo. This is a great way to create a robust record for your ancestors.
Thanks for your participation in BillionGraves! If you have additional questions, contact support.
We’re excited about this update for iOS devices. Go get the update today from the iTunes App Store. Some of the features and fixes included in this update are listed below.
- Use Indoors: Now you can use BillionGraves while you’re inside or under covered areas.
- Check-in and Share Records: You can check in at a location or share a record on Facebook or Twitter from your device. Let your friends and family know what you’re up to. Maybe they’ll come join you at the cemetery!
- No more In-App Purchase! Mobile records search is now completely free. Forever. In fact, everything in the app is free.
- Linking issue: The problem with linking images from the device is now fixed.
- The update handles users with a lot of pictures much better.
- You can use your new iPad 3G to take pictures!
- A few additional bug fixes
- Translation updates
- And much more!
Go get the update for your iPhone or iPad and keep taking pictures to 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!
BillionGraves is all about making family history research accessible. The driving force behind it is the idea that a volunteer force records headstones around the world and compiles the transcribed data in one place on BillionGraves.com. The database is free to search on the web, and it is now free to search from your iPhone or Android phone as well!
Why you should visit your local cemetery
Think of the BillionGraves effort as a wall waiting to be painted. If the painter puts smatterings of paint haphazardly across the wall, he’ll probably miss spots and leave an uneven layer of color. Yes, the wall will be painted, and yes, he can fill in the gaps, but if he had been methodical about painting the wall, he would be certain he covered the entire wall, and his cleanup work later would be reduced. There are clear benefits of being methodical about the picture-taking process with BillionGraves, too. Since we have volunteers working around the world, we can all finish painting the wall in record time. If you paint in your corner of the world, and she paints in hers, and so on, we’ll be certain we are covering the world’s cemeteries and collecting all the data we can to help people research their families from the comfort of their homes.
We can reach our goal of collecting one billion graves with the efforts of our volunteers. We appreciate your efforts, and we encourage you to continue to gather records from your local cemeteries. While it is exciting and moving to visit cemeteries where your relatives are buried, it is also vital to capture the data waiting for you in your local cemetery. Think of my mom. She lives in Florida, but all of her relatives are buried in the West, either in Colorado, Utah, or Idaho. She is waiting for the research from all of those cemeteries to be collected so she has access to her relatives’ information. While she waits, she has the opportunity to visit her local cemeteries in Florida, record the headstones in those cemeteries, and supply the data other families are waiting for in Maine, Kansas, Venezuela, or any other place around the world.
Get the youth involved
Getting your children or grandchildren involved will also speed up the process. Kids have natural technological abilities that we adults didn’t grow up learning. They can be a force for good as you visit cemeteries in your area. Let them provide service for their community, and let them learn at a young age the respect and appreciation for those who have gone before them that you have.
We can’t say this enough—we appreciate every effort from every volunteer. Let’s keep telling our friends about BillionGraves, visiting our local cemeteries, and transcribing the wealth of data that is flooding into our database.