The Wikipedia Of Graves: Israeli App CemoMemo Brings Cemeteries Into The Digital World

CemoMemo, a collaborative documentation platform for gravestones, is undertaking the digitization of headstones to turn cemetery visitations into unique historical explorations.

The project started as a collaboration between the Software Engineering and the Land of Israel Studies departments at Kinneret Academic College. “The idea was to develop an online searchable database of cemetery headstones,” according to Dr. Michael J. May.

Combining the historical and the touristic value in one platform, the operators claim to provide “many more fields and research capabilities than any other system out there.” Currently, there are two other active players in the field of headstone digitization. One of them is the genealogy platform MyHeritage, which claimed earlier this year to have completed the digitalization of all of Israel’s graves and cemeteries, documenting a total of 1.5 million gravestones in 638 cemeteries throughout Israel in partnership with the application BillionGraves. The second player is called Find A Grave, run by the commercial genealogy company Ancestry.com.

At this time, CemoMemo’s owners are focusing on cemeteries in their home country of Israel. However, the technology should work for cemeteries in most other countries as well.

You can read about this new web site providing tombstone information in an article in the NoCamels web site at: http://nocamels.com/2019/11/wikipedia-graves-israeli-app-cemomemo/.

4 Comments

“With a focus on the study of family ancestral lines, genealogy platforms do not fully disclose the content written on a headstone. But for CemoMemo, this is exactly the point where it starts to get interesting.”
This reminded me of all the work we did last year to make it possible for folks to easily find their ancestors among the 290 graves in a mostly-Brethren, mosty-19th Century cemetery in rural Illinois where there was no guidance or directory for the irregular waves of headstones.
After conducting a grave by grave survey, then updating all the Find A Grave memorials to correct numerous errors, we created and posted to each memorial a photo of a grid map with a location key for each grave.
Within a few weeks, Find A Grave’s Curator of Archives, “AJ”, had wiped out all our hard work, proclaiming in a no-reply message: “Photos of the person’s actual grave only, please.”
Bottom line: I’m now rooting for anyone who can compete successfully with the arrogant, thoughtless people running Find A Grave.

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    —> I’m now rooting for anyone who can compete successfully with the arrogant, thoughtless people running Find A Grave.

    Check out BillionGraves at https://billiongraves.com

    It may or may not be the answer to your concerns but I will suggest that you at least try BillionGraves to see if it works for you.

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Thanks, Dick. BillionGraves does fall off the radar, given the strong FindAGrave bias at both Ancestry and FamilySearch.

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I think all grave websites are an invaluable source of information for researchers. Find A Grave, BillionGraves, it looks like CemoMemo, and many smaller local cemetery sites all have their merits. Just as there is no single records archive that gives us all the answers for our research, there is also no single grave documentation site that fulfills all these needs. (And there are countless other sources: recently while searching on a name via Google, I was pointed to a free Google Books e-book containing all the inscriptions of a German cemetery as recorded 80 years ago in 1939, when those headstones were still mostly readable, and from a time when the inscriptions told a story.)

All good grave sites will allow volunteers to document the full inscriptions and add biographies, family links, photos and plot and GPS coordinates to the basic data. So as far as I’m concerned, the more sites and more volunteers there are, the better and richer the documentation will be, and I welcome all these new efforts.

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