Happy Memorial Day weekend to those in the US! At a time when we pause to remember those who fought for our freedom, we visit our cemeteries and show our love with tokens and kind words. In honor of Memorial Day, some members of the BillionGraves team put together a fun video about finding your ancestors’ headstones using BillionGraves.
You may have seen the good news: the BillionGraves Index is now available through FamilySearch! Now when you conduct a search on FamilySearch, BillionGraves data will be included in the results. You can also choose to search through just the BillionGraves Index, if you want to narrow your results. BillionGraves is a great genealogical resource, and we’re excited to have this new avenue to access our GPS-encoded headstone data. FamilySearch also provided a great article about getting started with BillionGraves on their blog last week.
A Few Clarifications
We’ve been checking the comments on some message boards and we want to clarify two things:
1. The data on BillionGraves is created by the public. We respect that and we intend to always make the database free for the public to use.
2. You don’t necessarily need a data plan to use BillionGraves. We’ve looked into the $150 Samsung Galaxy Player, which has GPS, WiFi, and a camera, and it works great. You won’t be able to see that you’re in a specific cemetery, but don’t worry, we’ll take care of that on our end, and your pictures will be added to the correct cemetery.
Don’t forget to check the Leaderboard this weekend to see what you need to do to get on it! (Or stay on it, if you’re already there.) Have a great weekend and keep adding photos for Million More in May!
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.
Our records continue to grow, and we couldn’t be more appreciative of our volunteers! We hope you’re having a great month capturing and transcribing images.
Have you gone out to the cemetery with a group yet? As you know, we highly recommend it. Not only does the picture-taking go faster, but it’s great to spend time with others in a worthy cause.
One BillionGraves user, Michael McCormick, headed up an event with his university church group. He tells us that at the end of each school year, the group likes to have some kind of gathering to celebrate. “Traditionally, we get together and have a BBQ,” he says. “Someone mentioned that we should do a service project as part of the closing social. A few people suggested ideas, and I suggested BillionGraves.”
So the group, excited for this unique service project, headed to the cemetery on April 9.
With a day devoted to honoring mothers coming up here in the US, we thought we’d honor some here at BillionGraves. Our database of headstones is a great resource for your personal family history research, but did you know it also provides other interesting data that we can tap into? We did a bit of our own research and found the top 100 epitaphs transcribed in our database. These beautiful epitaphs show devotion to fathers, mothers, brothers, daughters, war heroes, and other loved ones.
As we looked specifically for epitaphs honoring mothers, we found that in the top 100 epitaphs, “Mother” is included in 28 of the entries. Then, we found that the word “Mother” is contained in 16% of all epitaphs in our database. Mothers are revered members of society, and it shows in the headstones you’ve collected for BillionGraves.
Check out this table of the most popular epitaphs about moms:
Remember, to reach our goal of 1,000,000 new records this month, we just need two thousand users to take 500 pictures each.