Training and Help Video Series
Ten’s of thousands of records are created each day on the BillionGraves website. Occasionally mistakes are made during the transcription process that creates incomplete, inaccurate, or false records. This is VERY unfortunate as this makes the photo unsearchable to genealogists and impossible to sync with partners.
Headstones are a treasure trove of information, and EVERY headstone and contribution is important! So today we will discuss the proper method to find, edit, and fix improper transcriptions found on the BillionGraves website.
Watch the video below:
If you are new to BillionGraves, “Transcribing” refers to a process where a user records the information found on a headstone photo in order to make it searchable on the website. You may be familiar with other similar terms that are used in the genealogy industry like “indexing”. Let’s get started.
1. Why Edit Improper Transcriptions:
You may be wondering why BillionGraves wants you, the user, to edit improper transcriptions. It’s simple…We can’t always see the millions of records circulating the website so with your help we are able to find these records and make them much easier to locate.
When a record is transcribed incorrectly, it can cause that record to be unsearchable by researchers. Typing in the wrong birth or death date, miss-spelling a name, or not transcribing all the information on the stone can all lead to an unsearchable record and/or give researchers bad information. Also, these bad transcriptions carry over to our partners sites who are unable to connect the records to individuals in your family trees. All of these cases lead to records that can’t be found or connected to actual people.
Improper transcriptions can greatly affect record watches, notifications, and other search tools when finding family plots and relationships as well. This can hinder further insight and make finding the rest of the family much more difficult.
Finally the quality of the records are very important to BillionGraves and these memorials are some of the last tangible evidence of a person’s life. This means documenting and preserving that information for all of time is important to those individuals researching and to the those who have passed on.
2. What qualifies as a bad transcription?
When going through the search fields you may find records containing numerous wrong characters such as “unknown”, “-“, or “?”. You may find incomplete names or dates. In some cases these may be due to bad photos or debris covering parts of the stone. However in other cases, these are mistakes made during the transcription process.
For international stones and multi-lingual stones, you may even find records which have been transliterated. Transliteration is when a language is translated by a transcriber from its proper language on the memorial to the language of the user.
For example, a stone that is in Russian but is transliterated into the English meaning for any given word is transliterated from it’s original meaning. Often times leading to improper record translations. This is why all records must be transcribed in the language that appears on the headstone. Whatever the error may be, the headstones require editing and correction in order to be properly searched and matched.
3. How to Find Improper Transcriptions:
Now that we have shown you what to look for, now we’ll show you where to look to find records that need to be fixed. The easiest way to start is to look for records in a cemetery nearby. To do this:
- Log into your account at BillionGraves.com
- Next, click the blue “Search BillionGraves” button in the top right corner.
- Click on the “Cemeteries” tab.
- Enter in the name of a local cemetery. If you are unsure of cemeteries near you, use the filters to select the County, State, or Country.
- Navigate to the cemetery by clicking on the cemetery in the search results.
- Click on the tab, “Search Records” just below the cemetery photo.
- You will now see a list of all of the records in the cemetery. At this point you can either use the search function to find common mistakes like “?”, “unknown”, or “-“; or you can scroll through the list of names looking for errors as well.
- For more advanced ways to assist in correcting records:
- Often times the stone holds more valuable information than just the name and dates. Marriage dates, military service, children, and religious icons are some of the many things you may find on a headstone that can also be added to the record. You can review each record in the cemetery to ensure that ALL information on the stone has been entered into the record.
4. How to Edit and Correct Improper Transcriptions
- On the current record Select the “Wrench Icon”.
- Next, click “Edit Record”.
- Using your mouse scroll down to the bottom and review the “Vital Information”.
- Make Necessary edits in the fields by selecting the field with our mouse (Ex. First Name, Last Name, Dates, etc…).
- Scroll back up the page and select the check-mark icon to save your work.
- The record is now edited.
5. Advanced Techniques:
For updated and advanced techniques for finding improper transcriptions, please visit our community at https://community.billiongraves.com/questions/transcribing-images/advanced.
Thanks for watching this video! We hope that with this new information you are able to understand the importance of correcting improper transcriptions. With your help we can improve the quality of the records and help researchers have better results.
For further information please contact our support team at https://billiongraves.com/support/.
The BillionGraves team is proud to announce that we have reached 6,000,000 records!
We are so thrilled about the wonderful progress being made and are excited for the next million records! We couldn’t have done it without the wonderful contributors who are visiting and photographing cemeteries throughout the world as well as all those transcribing all those images!
You can help contribute to the cause by transcribing a few of the thousand of images waiting for transcription! Thank you all for your amazing contributions!
* Countries include: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, France, Germany, Guatemala, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, New Zealand, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Scotland, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, The Netherlands, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and the United States.
We are often contacted by people who have found errors on individual records on our site and are asked how they can be edited. This is actually a very simple process once you know where to go.
Keep in mind, all of our records are transcribed by volunteers, so occasionally there could be a typo or an error made. That’s why BillionGraves gives registered users the ability to fix any mistakes or typos on record pages.
Here are the 5 steps to editing a BillionGraves record.
1. Make sure you have registered for a BillionGraves account and are logged in.
2. Navigate to the individual records page you want to edit and click on the “edit” button.
3. Change any incorrect information.
This pop-up window will appear where you can change or add any information to any of the following fields.
In this case, I want to delete this comma that shouldn’t be there, so I’ll just hit backspace once my cursor’s in that box.
4. Hit save.
You’ll find this button in the bottom right corner of the editing window.
Once you do this, you will see the changes reflected on the individual’s record page. It is now saved to the database!
Please keep in mind that the information you transcribe should be the information on the headstone even if the headstone is incorrect. If you know for a fact that the headstone has the wrong information on it, please don’t change the information that is transcribed on the headstone. You can make note of the discrepancy under the “personal history” section on the record.
And that’s all there is to it! If you have any further questions, comment below or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I searched Joshua’s Dad’s name on Ancestry.com and found 3 documents that were for sure for him. I was able to find his social security number, and found that it was issued in Michigan in 1980. And through Facebook I’m pretty sure I was able to find his Uncle (Dad’s Brother) in Houston, Texas along with a phone number he had posted on one of his photos. So I’m praying that this story has a very happy outcome and Josh is reunited with his Dad’s side of the family.”
Sure enough, a few days later I received an email from Josh saying that with the help of the blog post, Christie, and a few other people who reached out to him, he had been able to locate his family members on his father’s side. He is so grateful for everyone who helped in his search.
THANK YOU BillionGravers for reaching out and helping Josh find his family. You are truly amazing people.
Connor Murphy (of Houston, Texas) didn’t know he was going to provide the missing link between a father and son when he organized over 30 volunteers to photograph the Calvary Hills Cemetery for his Eagle Scout project. His main goal was to “get all the information from the cemetery out,” Connor told me, “so that if anybody needed it, it could be accessed.”
Josh never knew his father; in fact, he was told that his father was murdered. And that’s about all he knew until a few weeks ago.
Actually, he’s only been able to piece together just a few bits of information throughout the years. No one on Josh’s mother’s side of the family would ever talk about his father, and he never knew any of his father’s family because of it.
Josh was born in Michigan, so he knew his parents were together there for at least some amount of time. His mother did say that his father was a “migrant worker” and that meant his father and family moved around a lot. He was told his father worked on farms and other places in Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, and even helped moved the Texas pipeline at one point.
When he was only 8 years old, his mom told Josh that his dad had been murdered. What the circumstances were of that murder, his mother wouldn’t say.
“I don’t even know if that was true,” Josh admitted, “because of the fact that she always tries to hide information from me about my father’s family and about him. She didn’t like telling me that.”
Josh wasn’t sure what to think until a few years later (at age 16) when he was spending time with his grandmother. She was drunk and accidentally let it slip that his father had, in fact, passed away. This wasn’t the first time Josh heard this, but somehow this time, was different. He was older this time and was able to fully grasp what that meant: he would never know his father.
Shortly after that, Josh moved out and has lived on his own all around the United States (and even in Mexico for a little while) until two months ago when he got married and moved to South Dakota. He has two stepsons with his first child—a baby girl—on the way.
In fact, he was about ready to just give up. But then one day, “for some reason I told myself to try looking again,” Josh said. So he Googled his father’s name and one image taken during Connor’s Eagle project popped up. The name and dates matched what Josh was looking for. He had found his father!
“It meant the world to me when I saw the headstone and realized that it was my dad,” Josh said. “I’m not one to cry, [but] my eyes watered up knowing it was something that I thought I’d never find. It just touched my heart and I would like to thank [Connor], who made it possible.”
When Connor found out what his Eagle project had done for Josh, he said, “Wow, maybe I was meant to do that cemetery.” His original plan was to photograph a cemetery that was closer to where he lived, but it fell through so he chose Calvary Hills.
Perhaps it was meant to be.
Now, thanks to Connor, Josh has a starting point in finding his lost father’s family. He plans to take a trip to Texas as soon as he can. He wants to find out anything he can about his father’s life and see if he can find any living relatives.
“I want them to know they have family too!” Josh says. “Whether it’s a great-niece, or a grandkid, they have them. We’re out here!”
Josh will continue his search for his paternal family, but would love any help he can get. When Josh contacted the funeral director in Texas, she was unable to give Josh any help because it’s been so long since his father’s death. So if you are related or know of anyone who could be related to Bret Alan VanDreumel, please comment below or contact Josh at email@example.com.
You just never know how powerful a picture can be or what it might mean for someone. For Josh, it means that he can start getting to know the father he never had.