Cemetery Research · Technology Tools · Websites

What’s the Buzz About Billiongraves? – Tombstone Tuesday

As a librarian, I hate to send to send my patrons to more than one place to find information.  But when dealing with genealogy research, I often need direct people to multiple resources to help folks find what they need.

Which is why I decided to take a look at BillionGraves.com. 

Hailed by a growing number of bloggers and websites as ‘A Website to Watch’, BillionGraves.com has a goal of providing a catalog of, (you guessed it!) one billion graves.  This is a free site which provides headstone pictures & transcription, cemetery information, mapping, and other resources for researchers.

On the main page (pictured on the right), you’ll find a simple headstone search box in the bottom left side of the website.  You can search by Given Name, Family Name, Birth Year and Death Year.  There are also advanced search options available.  The name search is pretty flexible, and allows for a diverse spelling of the name you’re researching.  If you can’t find what you’re looking for, don’t despair.  By registering with the site, you can request photographs and names from cemeteries around the world.  And that, dear genies, is where the volunteers have the most impact.

BillionGraves.com – Things to Know Before You Begin Volunteering

1) To keep the site free and successful, volunteers participate in the transcription and survey services.  Registration is easy and free.  You can register for an account by submitting a username, e-mail address, and a password.

2) On your profile page, you can change your location, profile picture, and other login information.  There are several great tutorials and guides which can help you become acquainted with the site. 

From this page, you can peruse the Request Board from people all over the world who need photo and transcription assistance.  Your request board is geographically set by your city and zip code, so make sure to change your location right away when signing in for the first time.

You’ll also be able to see your personal tally of transcriptions, photos, and cemetery additions.  And if you’re wondering where your contributions stand, you can left click on the ‘Leaderboard’ link to view a list of contributors.  Several of the top transcribers were submitting over 6,000 records by the end of the month!

3) Left Click on the ‘Transcribe’ tab to begin your transcription work.  The transcription record itself is very simple.  In the yellow ‘Buried Here’ heading type in the given name, family name, birth and death information.  The input fields allow you to easily type in a month, day, and year, so you are not required to use the drop-down fields.  This is very handy for transcription purposes!  If more than one person is named on the stone, you can ‘Add Individual’ to the record.  An ‘Add Description’ tab is also available to insert epitaphs or engravings.

4) When you’ve finished your entry, left click on the green ‘Save’ button.  The record will be saved and you’ll have the option to transcribe another headstone.

Surveying a Cemetery?  There’s an App for That!

If you’re looking for a way blend your own research while making use of that new smart phone in your pocket, download the BillionGraves app!  Left click on the ‘Participate’ tab located on the main page, and you’ll find several guides which will walk you through the download and app usage process.  The guides are available in a PDF format, and are easily printable if you need to share them with a group.

Verdict – If you’re looking for a simple and easy way to contribute to the area of cemetery research, give BillionGraves a try.  It’s simple, addictive, and makes great use of technology.  As this is a growing collection, do not discredit the offerings of sites such as Find A Grave or Internment.net.  Just as there are mutliple vital records websites, BillionGraves is the tech savvy new kid in the cemetery research community.

The Comment Question of the Day – What are your experiences and thoughts on BillionGraves?   Leave your interesting or creative responses in the comment box below.

See you at the Library!


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