I ran across a website recently that is a really clever idea. I know I’ve stumbled upon it before, but for some reason I never stayed. Now I’m hooked. BillionGraves.com is a site, similar is some ways to Find-A-Grave. To be honest, while I love Find-A-Grave and I will always use it, its age is showing. The site has not changed since I first found it over 10 years ago. The user interface is lacking, the headstone-adding process is getting clunkier every day, and it’s old and archaic. BillionGraves just feels fresh, new, and powerful. The sites, while having the same goal, work in a very different way.
I know I’ve had a similar idea in the past, though I never did much with it. I did transcribe one cemetery by hand once about 12 years ago, St. Finbar’s Cemetery in Saukville, Wisconsin, which is still online at interment.net. That was a small cemetery and it was a lot of work requiring going to the cemetery, visiting each stone, transcribing the info, writing it down in a notebook, taking it home, typing it into a computer, etc. I used a whole day just on that little cemetery. I love digitizing old records and other family information for people to find online. I had an idea to take pictures of every headstone in a cemetery and make some sort of website, but it still sounded like a lot of work for me, so I never did anything with it. Well, now Billion Graves has done it, and much better than I ever could have on my own.
Let them show you how they take people and technology to make the process extremely powerful:
So, if you have a smart phone of the iPhone or Android variety, you can download the BillionGraves.com app (iTunes link) and then visit your local cemetery and just start taking photos. The app will automatically capture the GPS coordinates on the cemetery and headstone and upload the photo to their servers.
Even if you don’t have a smart phone device, you can help by visiting the website and transcribing headstone photos that others have uploaded. I, myself, have transcribed almost 100 headstone photos already. It’s quick and easy and hopefully it’ll help countless people around the world.