Sunday, April 17, 2016

BillionGraves Takes The Anxiety Out Of Searching For Loved Ones

Yesterday, I had the privilege of taking my friend, Cathi, to Quantico National Cemetery to visit her father's grave.   Six years ago Cathi had moved to Arizona and has been unable to visit her father's grave regularly.  As you can imagine, the cemetery is rather large, and since it had been awhile since Cathi had come by, her memory needed to be jogged as to where the actual grave was located.  She knew the Section but could not remember where the actual plot was.

I have been working with BillionGraves for a number of years.  I knew that using BillionGraves' app, which provides the GPS location for every gravestone photographed, we would find Cathi's father in a matter of moments.  After opening the app, we entered her father's name, William E. Mulroy.  Immediately, the record of his burial showed up, and by simply tapping on the map icon, we were given the exact location of his headstone in relation to where we were standing.

Cathi was amazed that the BillionGraves app provided the exact location of where her dad was, as well as the headstone information.  When a relative, and in this case, daughter, wants to visit the resting place of a loved one, time would rather be spent visiting the grave than looking for it.  Since the cemetery information center was closed for the day, Cathi worried that her anxiety would increase as she tried to find her dad's grave.  BillionGraves removed the anxiety and afforded her the opportunity to spend more time with her dad and memories.

BillionGraves is a worldwide grassroots program that allows for anyone researching their ancestors to find the cemetery and gravesite of their loved ones who have passed away.  The site is free to join and anyone can be a BillionGraves volunteer.  It is a simple process that will have you helping people around the world as fast as it takes to snap a photo.

There are several ways to volunteer with BillionGraves, the top two being photographing and transcribing.  To photograph headstones, simply grab your smart phone or ipad and download the BillionGraves app.  When you arrive to the cemetery of your choice, open the app and click on the camera icon.  You will see the name of the cemetery appear in the camera with the live image.  As you walk grave by grave, simply take a picture of each headstone.  When you are done photographing, you may upload the pictures immediately or wait until you get home.

After you upload the pictures you have taken, you will want to transcribe the photos.  Log into BillionGraves on your computer and on the dashboard you will see a Photos icon.  When you select Photos, you will have the option to select the photos you have taken.  Each picture you click on will give you a form to complete with the information from the headstone.  Should you choose not to transcribe the images, the photos will go into the BillionGraves database for another volunteer to transcribe.

Volunteering for BillionGraves is a wonderful opportunity to give back to the genealogy community. There are millions of individuals, like Cathi, searching for the headstones of their loved ones. Whether the search is for family history purposes or to reminisce and pay respects, being able to access the gravesite immediately allows for time to be well spent.

For more information regarding BillionGraves, visit

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