Since the BillionGraves Index is now available on FamilySearch.org, a large group from FamilySearch employees decided to learn more about what BillionGraves is all about. So they headed to the Murray Cemetery in Utah to give the app a try.
Some people took pictures, and some people contributed by cleaning off headstones ahead of the picture-takers. This job is an important one: taking pictures goes much more quickly if the headstones are ready with all the information visible.
Dan Shellman, one of the participants, shared a bit about the great experience he had. “The activity that we held in which we took pictures of grave stones to be uploaded to BillionGraves was a great one. As I was taking pictures, it was humbling to see the names of families and wonder at the lives they must have lead. It felt great to know that the information about these families could be used to help others better understand their family history.”
120 different contributors—88 of them first time picture-takers—participated, and about 12,000 new images were added to the Murray Cemetery in one day.
The group even started transcribing the images together after the event.
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.
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.
We’re holding a contest in honor of RootsTech. The contest encourages you to recruit your family and friends, and then you’ll earn points for THEIR hard work! For every family member or friend that joins your team, you receive one point. And for every photo that your teammates upload, you get one point. So the more people you refer to BillionGraves, the faster your point total will grow. The contest ends on February 29, 2012, at 5 PM PST. If your team earns 10,000 points, you, as team leader, will win a $10 Subway gift card. Then we will hold a drawing to select our Grand Prize winner. The more points you earn, the more entries you get in the drawing. We will make a grand announcement about our Grand Prize during RootsTech this weekend!
Visit our RootsTech Contest page to learn more about the contest. From this page, it is easy to tell your friends by sending an email or posting to Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Start growing your BillionGraves Team and help us build to a billion.
Information about our session:
Rob Moncur and Curtis Tirrell will present on using smartphones and GPS to crowdsource cemetery data collection. The session will be held in room 255B at the Salt Palace Convention Center on February 4. Again, the session starts at 1:45. We can’t wait to see you at RootsTech!
This weekend, a few of us here at BillionGraves were able to participate in an Eagle Scout Project hosted at a local cemetery.
The project was a huge success. Each volunteer had a great time providing service to their community. With everyone involved, the whole cemetery was recorded in less than an hour. Kind of inspires you to get a team going in your area, doesn’t it. (It should!)
This beautifully manicured cemetery was easy to navigate, and the volunteers worked diligently to collect headstone images.
The group was sure dedicated to their smartphones. It’s fun to come across unique headstones like these while taking pictures.
This young man put together a team of volunteers and organized an event all on his own, and the team knocked out an entire cemetery in a day. Like I said, you should feel inspired!
Recruit your friends and family and get your community involved in recording family history for others around the world. Teams can help each member feel motivated, share the burden of recording an entire cemetery, and make an afternoon at the cemetery more fun. Organize an event to record a cemetery together. You can refer your friends to our site to help them get registered and oriented.
We have an Eagle Scout reference packet as well as other reference guides on our site. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have with regards to Eagle Scout Projects or organizing events—we would love to help you out.