Monday, January 7, 2013

Billion Graves (Madame LN)

Dear Madame LN,
 I read in Aunt Louise's blog about the graveyard photos.  Can you please tell me more about this? 
 How does this help people who are doing their genealogy? How can I help with it?"  
Want to Help
Dear Volunteer,
Have you ever wondered where your loved one was buried, and what their gravesite looks like, and wished you could go visit their grave and pay your respects in person? The cost of visiting all the graves of your grandparents and great-grandparents and anyone else that you care about could get pretty expensive--depending, of course, on where you live and where they are buried. If the thought is exciting but daunting to you, rest assured that you’re not the only one who has felt that way, and there are people who are helping each other do something about it.
The principle is quite simple: you take pictures of graves in your neighborhood cemetery and upload them to a website for others to view, and other people take pictures of graves near them and do the same for you, thus making it possible for you to vicariously visit your loved ones’ graves. One of the websites that offers this service, FindaGrave (mentioned in Aunt Louise’s blog post, above), allows you to create memorials and leave electronic flowers in memory of your loved one. FindaGrave has been around for more than 10 years and is used by genealogists and others to collect names and dates to add to their records. Here is a link to their FAQ page where you can learn more about their service: is similar to FindaGrave, but it has not been around for nearly as long. Pictures for Billion Graves are uploaded by volunteers using their smart phones or electronic note pads and utilizing GPS so that the exact location of each grave is mapped out in each cemetery. Volunteers visit cemeteries in their own neighborhoods and go systematically from one headstone to another, taking pictures with their smart phones and uploading them directly to the website. All you have to do is go to their website and register, then download the app to your smart phone or other electronic device, and start visiting cemeteries and taking pictures.
Wait! What if you don’t have a smart phone or other means of taking GPS-enabled pictures? You can still help! People are needed to not only take the pictures, but also extract the information from those pictures of the headstones, and enter them into the searchable index.
It’s a lot like the indexing that we talked about before. In fact, BillionGraves is affiliated with, the same organization that does the indexing. Yet it’s also independent from Family Search. In other words, even if you don’t want to sign up with Family Search, you can still just do the Billion Graves. And if you don’t want to upload photos or extract information from the photos, it’s okay. The information that has already been extracted is still available for you to search at no charge. Anyone with computer access can do it.
So what are you waiting for? Download the app, get registered, and start searching. I bet you’ll have fun doing it!
Madame LN

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