How FindAGrave Could – and Should – Be Made Better

Amy Johnson Crow has posted an article in her blog that illustrates one of the problems with FindAGrave and offers suggestions for how it could be better. If you have an interest in FindAGrave, you might want to read Amy’s article, How FindAGrave Could – and Should – Be Made Better, at: http://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/2016/10/21/findagrave-made-better/.

Comment: FindAGrave’s biggest competitor, BillionGraves.com, certainly is not perfect. It has some problems of its own but does not share the problems that Amy wrote about. For one thing, BillionGraves.com starts with a picture of the tombstone. No picture? No entry on BillionGraves.com.

Perhaps FindAGrave should adopt a similar policy.

57 Comments

It is definitely not a perfect situation and I have had my issues over the years, but overall what a marvelous volunteer and FREE source this is. Like everything else, you need to do your OWN work to validate. There are mistakes. And sadly, there are people who use this to occupy their time as a hobby and feel ownership instead of as a contributor to furthering genealogy and family history in general. Most of the time, I show relationship and they transfer the membership to me. On occasion someone will be difficult and in that case I create a duplicate memorial showing sources to distinguish it from a hobbyist. Sometimes…when it is not friendly, I contact FaG and advise them with a complete history…but it is so rare. Again…I have been contributing for years and years and have found solutions to every situation. Nothing is perfect, but it is better than nothing at all.

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I disagree. Requiring a photograph of a tombstone as a precondition to being allowed to post burial information would make it impossible to post information from cemeteries that do not permit photographs to be taken. It would also prevent posting of burial information for a grave or plot which has no stone, or despite the availability of records containing details of burials in the plot.

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    One solution is to take a photo of the gravesite—-no stone just the ground under which the person is buried. I have done this in an older cemetery which has many folks who do not have stone.

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Couldn’t agree more. My annoyance with them is a little different. I have found a lot of my older family members graves there with current photos of the grave markers. In most cases, they are almost impossible to read and look terrible. I have tried to replace those photos with ones that we taken shortly after they were placed on the grave. I’ve had them removed and got emails saying I can’t do that. But it is my relative – not theirs – and it would be nice if others could actually read the marker even on line.
Visited 10 graves in 3 cemeteries a while back for the first time in years. Couldn’t find one very different looking headstone no matter where we looked. My son logged on to findagrave, found one of my photos from years ago and was able to line up the photo with fences and trees and we found it in minutes! Never would have thought of that myself, but then I don’t have that kind of phone either!

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Interesting. Amy does not say whether or not she approached FindAGrave with these suggestions.
I like the fact that I can link all my ancestors, no matter what country they were buried in. I have made many memorials, all family, and was lucky enough to create them for my recently deceased parents first. Otherwise I always check first to see if a memorial has been made and if so I have never had problems having it transferred to me. I also give kudos to all the volunteers that go out and take photos of the graves for us. My peeve is people that volunteer to take photos but never do. I have had requests pending at Cataraqui for over a year.

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It would be a definite improvement if Findagrave didn’t allow people to create an entry where no gravestone photograph was available. The number I’ve come across for graveyards in the UK relating to individuals buried in the 1500s and 1600s. Unless they had a memorial plaque or stone actually inside the church, there will not be a surviving readable gravestone from that period (or its very, very unlikely there will be unless it was in a very, very sheltered place). Many gravestones from the late 1700s and early 1800s are pretty unreadable now. I was sent a photo of a gravestone from 1705 a few years back, taken some years earlier and at that point not particularly readable. A recent visit to the graveyard found the stone had sunk so much that it wasn’t visible apart from the very top. Unfortunately I suspect most of the people creating these entries are from overseas and they haven’t given any thought to the reality of whether there ever was a gravestone and, more importantly, whether it will survive given the problems with the affect of climate on the stone surface itself.

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    I’m sorry I disagree with your comment. That is not the purpose of FindAGrave to just add Tombstones. It is to add a MEMORIAL. The fact that there is no longer a tombstone because it has crumbled away is more of a reason to make an entry for them. If you have photos of tombstones, no matter how old and barely readable, all the more reason to add the photo before it too crumbles away. You can add people who were cremated also, and there will be no tombstone. If you want only tombstone photos use another site like Billion Graves, like Dick said… no photo no entry!.

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    Sorry but while I appreciate that some people use it for Memorials, it does seem to be used more for people requesting photographs of gravestones. In this situation, there perhaps needs to be something said that where gravestones do not exist, people shouldn’t request photographs of something that cannot be photographed. Its somewhat misleading to say the least. I know some people do specifically put on the memorial pages that no gravestone exists. That’s fine, but not where people create them in the hope there is a gravestone when its highly unlikely to exist. Many graves from the early 20th century in the UK have been reused. Yes the “grave” itself may still be there, they simply drop the remains down further and reuse it, but by suggesting that the gravestone may still exist is misleading to say the least. In the case of older burial, many graveyards have been cleared and no longer exist. Creating memorials without stipulating the possibility there is nothing left to visit, is again misleading. Perhaps better advice on what to create and what to include would be far more useful.

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I’m not sure I agree with the No Photo/No Memorial rule on Billion Graves. A photo is indeed desirable, but before digital cameras and cell phone picture capability was around, I was walking cemeteries and transcribing stones. Should I not post that and share it with someone perhaps trying to find a family member with an unknown burial location? It isn’t just the picture being shared, it is the information locating someone’s gravesite, and that is valuable also. At that point, they can request a picture from someone able to take it, or know where to go to take the photo themself.

– Kay

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I never would have known where my great grandmother was buried if
Find a Grave only post grave sites with tombstones.

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FAG is not responsive when you ask questions. Recently created a Cemetery but misspelled the name. Do not know how to correct it. Have asked them to fix it but they have failed to respond. Does anyone know how to fix the name?

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Regarding the suggestion that a photo be required on Find A Grave: There are many gravemarkers that were transcribed years ago and are available in manuscript or self-published form at local libraries and societies. Many times the memorials thus recorded no longer exist or are no longer readable. These should be able to be added to Find A Grave without photos (as they are now), but it would be great to add the citation of the source of the burial, which is not frequently done. I have also been able to go to cemeteries to find ancestors graves to photograph when they are listed without a photo. Otherwise, I would have had no idea which of the many small cemeteries in the area to visit.

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No, no, and NO! to the suggestion that only graves with tombstones be included in Find a Grave. I have a number of family members who never had a tombstone, but there is a record in the cemetery office of the grave. One couple are located the next lot down the hill from the John Deere family — no marker to photograph, but I was able to visit and pay my respects thanks to the cemetery office. When I returned home, I added a memorial with the information I found at the cemetery. As for BillionGraves, I still haven’t found any family members there, though I keep checking.

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    I agree. My sister died as a year old baby and my father never had a tombstone made nor told my mother where she was buried (at Mother’s request) so that she would not spend all her days there mourning. I found the cemetery papers among my fathers things when he died. I asked a friend who lives near to go find out about it. The manager showed her the spot where she is buried. My friend laid flowers on the spot and took a photo for me.
    She deserves to have a memorial and be remembered, as much as someone who has a tombstone.

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I don’t agree with you, if no tombstone no entry on FAG or Billion Graves. I have been to many cemeteries in search of ancestors. My g g grandmother is buried in one of my family cemeteries with no stone, she is listed in their books, I added her to FAG. I also have added information on my deceased ancestors that I found with just birth and death date. You can go on FAG and request corrections, when your requests are checked they are added and I get e-mails letting me know the correction has been made, also you can connect family members, husband to wife, parents to children etc. A few times I have added non family members with tombstones, after researching these people first, I added them with the correct information. A few of my ancestors are connected through 3 and 4 generations on FAG.

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Oh, No. I completely disagree with your suggestion to only allow memorials where there are photographs. Many memorials on FAG come from computerized inventories of National Cemeteries, published physical inventories of graveyards from years ago where individual headstones, or even graveyards may not exist anymore, etc, etc.. I, myself, have made many memorials from the invetories of Gertrude Barber, who physically inventoried (not sure if she also used helpers) cemeteries in the first half of the 20th centuries. Another major contributor of old graveyard inventories were Josephine Frost, as well as many historical books printed in the 19th and early 20 centuries that contained physical inventories of cemeteries in towns across the country.

I suggest absolutely no to the photograph requirement suggestion.

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I use both sites and find both very helpful. Yes, I think it is nice to have a photo of the headstone; but some information is better than none. I would certainly encourage people to include a photo; but I would still accept the information if, for some reason, they had no photo.

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The main issue I have is with “know-it-alls” from “away” who supposedly know more than I do about our local cemeteries. One man posted a memorial in an African-American cemetery here that has been abandoned since 1961. The memorial was for a white man who died in 2015. I’m working at that cemetery, and there IS no burial there. He told me that the cemetery was in Junction City and since the cemetery I’m working on is also in Junction City, it MUST be the right cemetery. Upshot? I’m in Kentucky. The burial was in Kansas. The man who posted the memorial for a white man in Junction City, Kansas, refused to delete or make a change because he was right. It took administrators from Find A Grave to finally move the memorial to the correct cemetery.

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My entire Irish emigrant family in Philadelphia- as well as their spouses and many children are buried together- none have stones!!! They are listed clearly in the Cemetery Office records. I could provide a lovely picture of a large grassy area.

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I agree with her on stop displaying the numbers, and also stop giving out awards to those people. Some turn it into a contest to get the highest number. I disagree on requiring a photo in advance. I’ve only created about 100 memorials myself, for either ancestors or their siblings. The majority I will never see in person. The reason I created them is I have found the alleged dates in published sources and want to request a photo to compare those with a picture after a volunteer has taken one. After seeing a clear picture I have found for several that the published dates are wrong (as I suspected in advance). Others a volunteer has stated there is no longer a stone, or they were able to find the stone and take a picture, but the dates are no longer readable, or the stone is broken and parts of dates are no longer there. I’m ambivalent about memorials that include a mini-biography. In some cases where information is cited, it has led to new information. More often they are just copying incorrect information from all the incorrect family trees, and have incorrect people linked, and incorrect information about the person. When contacted with source cited material showing what is wrong with what they posted and correct information they never respond and it never gets changed. Probably because they are too busy pursuing adding more memorials to increase their numbers.

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I am fine with graves with or without tombstones. I wish they would do away with memorial pages and “family” links since these have just become yet another source of incorrect poorly sourced genealogy.

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I find Find A Grave extremely useful and easy to use, far better than Billiongraves, and it’s free!

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My biggest problem with FindaGrave is that the information posted is no longer restricted to information about what’s on the headstone. Instead lots of unsourced information can also be added, which as with all these posted family trees can have significant inaccuracies which are hard to correct.

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Headstone photo should not be a requirement. In cases of Jewish deaths, headstones traditionally are not immediately installed. Those FAG members who dash in to post a death, under the guise of respecting the dead, disrespect the family and descendants. Some of these FAG folks act like this is a contest to see who scores the most listings. Absurd!

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As a contributor to Find A Grave I am aware of the problems and things that could/should be improved. I have had memorial collectors (those go to cemeteries and “collect” all the graves then either refuse to transfer to family members or to add information) get nasty about memorials they have “created” and that they “own”. I have created memorials but I do not own them, I manage them. I will gladly transfer a memorial to family members or add information, as the whole point is to make that information available. I have memorials that have no tombstone or photograph, why should someone who was buried at sea, had their ashes scattered, had no tombstone or whose tombstone is long gone not have a memorial? Their information is there, THAT is the point. I recently public messaged a couple of people about adding information to memorials I found of members of my spouse’s family and one, bless them, immediately transfered the memorials to me to manage – I did not ask, just requested they add the information. I do have a problem with the memorial collectors and when they refuse to transfer a memorial or to add information I create a duplicate memorial. I had one threaten me about having the duplicate deleted but it never happened and I was polite to the person but did copy and paste their very uncivil message for all to see. Is Find A Grave perfect? No. Is Billion Graves? No. For now I will stick with Find A Grave as it better serves my family’s needs – including those no longer with us.

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I could NOT disagree MORE with that IDEA…… to do that or enforce it would LEAVE OUT a lot of graves, locations, data, etc…. and just because the family? or no one? ever placed a marked stone on a grave!!!

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NO, No, NO. I cannot agree with Amy. I don’t think her suggestions serve the best interest of the genealogy community. If we wait for family to post their family, we will be old, gray and dead. IF you are close family and they do not transfer to you, then contact FAG and let them handle it.
Even those who post direct from cemetery books do a limited service. Most of those books have a limited publication, and only get in a few libraries.
My daughter has instructions when I die, before I am moved, to post me on Find a Grave! When I get a family call of a loved one, I go immediately to my computer and post something, although it be just the full name and the years.
Some of the people who post these memorials may have limited activities they can do, and this does make them feel useful to society. Many times when I come across a baby or someone alone and no family linked to them, I will post flowers. I know they are real people, and want them remembered.
I have always transferred out of guidelines. I have been chasing family since 1957 and love Find a Grave now. With the linking capability it is a great source – used like any other source.
Who is going to judge whether the person is within the four generations of kinship? Will you be required to submit trees for both of you to a judge. That would kill Find a Grave and someone would start another site to take its place.
Also remember tombstones erected are not always correct. Human make mistakes. I love the ability to sponsor an ancestor or loved one’s memorial, and leave them a message in the flowers. It is a great site, as it is.

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I have two recommendations: (1)I would like FaG to allow searches by first name. This must have a surname search is nonsense. (2) I would like FaG to allow “jumping” of pages when browsing an entire cemetery. It is a waste of time to “click, click, click” to advance from the As to the Ws to look for a surname that can’t be found using the search by name feature.

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Haven’t read all the comments here yet, but did just read the article. I think it’s hysterical that the author is complaining that people are into the numbers game on Findagrave since that is precisely the problem with “collectors” of names for family trees in places like Ancestry and Rootsweb. Isn’t this supposed to be about “genealogy” which is about proving lineage! People add thousands of names to their trees that they can’t possibly have researched, and vast numbers of them are not even related!

My biggest beef is those who may be far distant relatives (4th or 5th cousins, say) and are putting my mother and grandmother in their tree. They did not know these people and it feels creepy and like a slap in the face to me too to have someone posting family members who I knew. This is exactly the complaint of the author regarding findagrave.

Do me a favor and don’t reply to my comment with something like “you don’t own your relatives” because that’s the kind of response I’ve gotten in the past. Far distant relatives and collectors shouldn’t be able to post my family members who are closely connected to me in their tree. And I say that goes for the Mormon sealing stuff as well.

Done with my rant for now.

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For my research, Billion Graves has a much more serious problem than Find A Grave.
BG has almost no coverage of the very large Jewish Cemeteries in New York City.
Almost nothing.
They have very little coverage of any East Coast big city cemeteries.

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Making a memorial for my father on Find-A-Grave never crossed my mind, even though I was very familiar with the website. So I was exceptionally grateful to find his memorial on Find A Grave when I actually looked for his name, months later, just for the heck of it. It also never occurred to me to request control of his memorial.

From a genealogy point of view it is most gratifying to find relatives Find A Grave memorials and photos of their grave markers. I know that if it was up to the direct descendants of the families that I am researching to set up a Find A Grave memorial it would never happen. What a loss that would be, for me and anyone else who is into genealogy.

Therefore, I am eternally grateful for the people who have taken their precious time to walk cemeteries, take photos, transcribe the information and post Find A Grave memorials online. Maybe some contributors may be into “the one with the most graves wins” but that seems to be a pretty hard way to find gratification!

What does amaze me are the people who post genealogies on Find A Grave, with no information regarding the cemetery or photo of the grave marker. It appears that they never even went near the cemetery where their ancestor is buried. I think it is called Find a GRAVE for a reason!

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Most of us do genealogy research to uncover forgotten and hidden histories. People’s ancestors often had no marker because they were poor, and frequently poor immigrants. The “no marker photo, no memorial” policy serves to keep those people invisible.

Two ancestors of mine were buried in graves that no longer have markers. I have an obit for one and a death certificate for the other, and both documents confirm where they were buried. I don’t want to post those records on FAG, but still want memorials.

Yes, some people make mistakes on FAG. But most try to be accurate. And many of us follow genealogy best practices, confirming details via historical records. We should not lose the opportunity to create memorials and share information with relatives, just because there is no grave marker.

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I have been a FindaGrave contributor for over seven years and strongly disagree that a headstone photograph should be required before posting a memorial. Many of the family members I have researched are buried in distant parts of the US and Canada. When I am able to find their burial location through cemetery records, death records, obituaries or some other means, I go ahead and post a memorial if there isn’t one already. This enables me to take advantage of one of the most valuable parts of FindaGrave – the Request a Photo feature. FindaGrave volunteers around the world have fulfilled my photo requests for headstones that I will never personally be able to visit. I have tried to do the same for burials that are located close to me but have no headstone photograph. Requiring a headstone photograph first would defeat this wonderful resource.

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I am surprised by all these responses. As a seasoned genealogist, I am grateful for all the work that goes into to creating and maintaining these sites. My family did not keep records, take pictures, nor stay in one place very long. I am thrilled when I find any history or picture on these sites. BUT, I do the research first, and use this cemetery information as clues to further the search, not as gospel truth. Sure, I have found errors, but I go through the edit button and explain politely why I believe it to be in error. I have never received anything but politeness back, and a quick fix if I am correct. You can use a first name search in the cemetery itself, just not a countywide search. I think also there should be a box to mark if this is from a visit to the cemetery, family lore, published information, taken from a death certificate, etc. Sometimes people assume if one died in a place, they were buried there. A BIG thanks to all who take the time to contribute in any way.
Fran

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In the past, I have contributed data, personally known and researched relationship information, hundred-year-old photos, etc., for my direct ancestors and their immediate kin. Not by creating any memorials but only by submissions to existing ones for use if desired. I thought it was a public service, making these things available to unknown cousins and the genealogical community, as I had access to information or photographs not otherwise available. I thought it was a wonderful resource and I enjoyed adding what little I could. Thanks to this article and the proprietary attitudes expressed, I shall no longer participate since contributions to the site are apparently unwelcome and resented. Who knew? I certainly didn’t.

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    Just because a few disgruntles expressed THEIR opinion that they don’t like it, does not mean you should stop contributing to your ancestor and relatives memorials. If someone in YOUR family made objections to you then you can discuss it and come to an agreement. I personally like that people add unknown facts (and photos – I WISH!!) to our mutual relations, as long as it isn’t a 3 page story hahaha. I added a “memorial” for one of my ancestors and added the fact that her body was given for medical research. Was this wrong? I don’t think so! Keep on what you are doing!

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    I would be very unhappy if FaG were to discourage non-relatives from contributing to existing memorials. Most of the genealogy research I do is related to Union veterans of the Civil War and when I find where they were buried I often see that they have no dates of birth and death, just a repeat of the info about the unit in which they served during the war. In most instances I am able to provide dates of birth and death using the edit feature. In some instances I have even connected a veteran to a spouse who remarried and was buried hundreds of miles away with a second or third husband. So, as I wrote elsewhere, the only thing about FaG I would change is to make it possible to search by first name because the surnames are often so eroded on the headstone that they end up being entered incorrectly on the kind soul who created the memorial.

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    NOt sure if you are interested or not, but I have been working on the records of West Liberty Cemetery here in Pittsburgh PA. I have several Civil War Veterans. IF you are interested, I will tell you what I have. Please email me directly.

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    I work on veterans buried in Fresno, but encourage you to share your work with the Burial Register maintained by the Sons of Union Veterans.

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    I agree, since most of the WORK is done by VOLUNTEERS and the only cost involved is that done by Ancestry.com to keep the electric on and their computers humming along……some folks don’t know a good thing when they see it…… to me this is just along the same lines that one sees on FB in those now “new” family genealogy pages, where some one will claim that the data put up is ALL THEIRS and no one else can copy, paste, or use it in their sourcing of data….. every one has gotten so touchy now-a-days, that the “new” touchie/feelie may well KILL a lot of the on-line sharing…. folks can’t join and put up family items of interest to others, or declare that a certain so and so should not be put up or used, without “their” express permission… If you don’t want other folks to see it, use, share it, then don’t join genealogy sites or blogs…… but I guess I’m just an old-foggie in the head who has yrs. shared and used material that made my efforts and the efforts of others (looking) a lot easier then it was for me when I started 50 yrs. ago!!!!!!!

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    One thing to keep in mind though when “borrowing” someone else’s work – it is a good idea to attribute it. I had information posted in an online tree that someone “took”. That was fine, except the information was wrong and I only found out later. I could change what I had posted, but forever after that person would have it wrong if they weren’t a) researching it themself, or b) checking back to my post periodically to see what was new/changed. And others, seeing what they posted, couldn’t go find it where I posted/corrected it either. Attribution is the polite thing to do, always, but it could also save you from some mistakes.

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I am sorry for her experience. However, in genealogical research it is a cardinal rule and our personal responsibility to check our sources. I am on the Genealogy Panel for a family organization and I can’t count the number of times that we have had people ask us to help them and they have relied heavily on family trees posted on Ancestry and we can’t help them unless they provide us with actual info proven by sources which they don’t have. I am grateful for the memorials posted at Find-A-Grave and make notes whether there is a photo of the tombstone and the info on it and as others have stated here tombstones can also sometimes have incorrect information. So can death indexes and death certificates and probate records. We have to find multiple sources to compare and confirm. I think Ancestry itself has a far more serious problem with not checking sources than Find-A-Grave.

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    And further to Barry’s comments, I personally know of a tombstone for someone that is not buried there. The stone itself would not tell you that, but family research has provided me with the knowledge. And if someone found both that stone and the one where the person is really buried, I can provide the answer as to why. Should I not share that, even though it is not found anywhere on the stone, and quite possibly not in the cemetery records either? I hope people like J.T. will continue to share. Yes, we should keep in mind that personal information on living people should not be posted online (including in an obituary) and posting copyrighted information without permission is wrong (as is usually the case with images of obituaries from newspapers). Be judicious in what is posted, but do share.

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I, for one, am thrilled when any information is found on my elusive family. I use it as clue material, however, never “gospel truth”. When I find errors, I go to the edit key and politely
summarize what I believe is in error. I have only received thank you and polite replies.
I might suggest to FAG that they install boxes for the originator to check mark, on where the information comes from, viz: tombstone, cemetery record, family lore, published information, death certificate, etc. You can search by first name on the cemetery site, just not county or statewide. I agree that skipping pages would be great, perhaps numbering pages 1,2,3, etc.
Fran

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Reading these comments has me thinking. I do not mind if someone writes information regarding my grandmother, for instance. I think it only adds to knowing her as a person. I knew her as her granddaughter, but others knew her as a cousin, friend, aunt, step-mother, neighbor, in-law. I welcome their comments.

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I don’t have a problem with no gravestone but I do have a problem with no source information. I get nervous when I write to correct memorial information and it is accepted without any request for documentation. I still value the site and appreciate being able to honor my ancestors. It was a thrill to me to be able to contribute the first photos of ancestors’ graves in a small and hard to locate family cemetery.

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NO, NO, NO… the idea of having to have a picture to make a memorial is unreasonable. Our local cemetery does make small memorials for people who do not have headstones. But they are concrete and after time, they sink below ground. Some of them never had one.. we have large sections of our cemetery that are mostly these types of stones ( people who died without money, or during plagues, or babies ).. These people have the right to be remembered just as well as someone who had the money the money to buy a headstone. Sadly we have about 20 who are Civil War Veterans who don’t have a headstone.. I can’t get one from the veteran’s administration, I am not family, but they deserve to be remembered.

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    Yes, YOU can’t get headstones for Civil War veterans but the manager of the cemetery where they rest can. Just fill out the form from https://www.va.gov/…/VA40-1330.pdf, provide documentation about the service of each veteran, have the manager sign the application, and mail it in. It will take 3-6 months, but you will get a proper headstone (assuming you have provided proper documentation – copies of the death certificate and two or three items from the veterans pension application file which can be ordered using American Civil War Ancestor a less expensive route than sending it to the NARA)..

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One thing I would find helpful would be if Find-a-Grave encouraged contributors to include section and plot number information, which would be really helpful for finding all the people buried together in a group. Some of the old plots in the big rural cemeteries have room for two or three dozen burials and can have several generations of descendants and their spouses, as well as assorted other in-laws and cousins with a variety of surnames all buried together, but you would never know that from Find-a-Grave.

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    In order for this to be helpful you would have to be able to search on the cemetery plot field and right now I don’t believe you can.

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    I don’t see how this would be possible. Most of us who create memorials on FaG don;t have access to the burial registers and/or Plot maps, and if we hold off until that information becomes available, very few memorials would be created.

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    Well, IF Find-a-Grave were to have a space where the information could be entered and allow for the information in that space to show up when search results are displayed, and IF people who did have that information were to enter it, THEN it would be possible to search on a surname and see the section or plot numbers along with the names on the list and fairly easily pick out all the ones with the same numbers. The search engine of the Green-Wood Cemetery of Brooklyn, NY, does not allow you to search by plot number, but it does display the plot numbers next to the names when you search by name. Once I knew the plot number for one ancestor who is buried there, I was able to scroll through page after page of other burials of people with the same common surname and pick out a dozen of the relatives with whom he is buried and confirm that I was indeed looking at the right man, not someone else with the same name who coincidentally happened to be buried at about the same time as my ancestor.

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Thanks so much for this article. I have run into the same situation, but with mix results. I am known as the “family historian”. When my mom’s cousin passed away, same thing, less than 24 hours later someone had entered her information. Then would not transfer it to me. Her children were dismayed because they of course wanted someone who knew her to take care of her memorial. It eventually worked out, but it was distressing. I know as a volunteer I have bent the transfer rules, but when I enter a memorial for someone who I have no relationship to, I would MUCH rather have it in the hands of a good friend of the deceased’s than me who has no relationship at all to them. I wish others would not hold onto memorials as if they “owned” the info. I do thank all those volunteers that work so hard to build F-A-G into a great research tool. At least a starting point. I will state this that adding family links has become a MUCH better process on the site.

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I absolutely love FAG. Yes, there are some problems and as a volunteer photo taker, I see the problems more clearly. However, it is a privilege to be involved in something productive like this that is trying to help preserve history so family members can have access to it. I am well aware there are people out there who feel they “own” the memorial because they did the memorial and don’t want to transfer it to family, but in general when I request a transfer for my own family member, I have been able to get it. I think that FAG is getting better as it gets older because the FAG administrators are learning what works and what does not, just like the rest of us. I will admit that with my schedule and commitments, any memorials that I make (unless they are my own family) I immediately transfer to FAG or the local genealogy society as I do not have time to keep on requested edits. I am not about the numbers, but yes there are a few folks out there that are. My suggestion to folks is simply to use and enjoy FAG for what is good about it, and try to figure out constructive ways around what is “bad”.

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After reading Dick’s latest gravestone post “How NOT to Clean a Gravestone for Photography” ( https://blog.eogn.com/2016/12/12/how-not-to-clean-a-tombstone-for-photography/#more-16292 ) I think perhaps that rather than have Find-a-Grave ban the posting of memorials that do not include a photograph, it might be preferable to include a warning in large type on the sign-up sheet (not buried somewhere in the Terms and Conditions people tend not to actually read) along the lines of “I agree that I will not attempt to make the inscription on any grave marker more legible by putting any household cleaners, chalk, shaving cream or other substance on the marker or rubbing, scrubbing or picking at its surface in any way. I understand that all grave markers are inherently fragile and may be permanently damaged by well-meaning people who are not professional conservators, so I will refrain from doing anything that might harm any grave marker.” It might also help if Find-a-Grave makes it coear they may remove photos showing this kind of damage and cancel the accounts of members who consistently post photos of damaged stones.

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    Actually, on further reflection, perhaps the legend ought to pop up on the screen automatically every time someone goes to post a new photograph. That way the message would probably eventually sink in and be remembered the next time the contributor is actually in the cemetery, before any damage is done.

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