Tuesday, December 2, 2014

FamilySearch Publishes Find A Grave Index

FamilySearch publishes Find A Grave indexAs I write this, I’ve not yet seen an announcement, but I see that FamilySearch has published an index to Find A Grave. FamilySearch published the collection on 16 November 2014. Like FamilySearch’s index to BillionGraves, the collection contains basic information about the burial, but does not include marker photographs. Both collections provide links to the respective websites, FindAGrave.com and BillionGraves.com, where you can view the photographs and possibly other information for no cost.

I’m not qualified to do an accurate comparison between the two. Many of the differences that used to exist between the two have been eliminated as the two vie for market dominance, but here are some differences:

  • Find A Grave is much, much more comprehensive: On FamilySearch.org, the Find A Grave index contains 124,060,301 records, while the BillionGraves index has 10,376,845.
  • I don’t have the numbers, but Find A Grave has a large army of volunteers willing to respond to requests for new photographs. BillionGraves has a much newer battalion.
  • Very few records have GPS coordinates on Find A Grave, while they are ubiquitous on BillionGraves. BillionGraves shows a satellite view of the cemetery with the grave location marked.
  • On Find A Grave, only a record’s owner can change information. On BillionGraves, anyone can make changes.
  • FamilySearch has certified that BillionGraves is compatible with FamilySearch Family Tree. Linking a record to Family Tree creates a link from the BillionGraves.com record to a person in Family Tree and a reciprocal source link from Family Tree back to BillionGraves.com.
  • Find A Grave is owned by Ancestry.com, which I consider to be one of the most stable genealogy companies in the universe. BillionGraves is owned by Otter Creek Holdings.
  • BillionGraves has partnered with MyHeritage, supports Hebrew calendar dates, and plans to add dozens of languages.
  • On Find a Grave, visitors can leave virtual flowers, flags, and religious symbols on memorials.

Readers will have to help me out with other comparisons. Please don’t send me email with the comments. Leave comments on the AncestryInsider.org website for all to see.

I found a record present on both sites. Here is the record on Find A Grave:

James Daniel Pitcher on Find A Grave

The owner has done quite a bit of work on this record. Clicking on the grave marker opens the full-resolution original.

Here is the same record on BillionGraves:

James D Pitcher on BillionGraves

It looks like BillionGraves supports the same sorts of improvements as Find A Grave, but this record is much less mature. (There’s also a transcription error, but anyone can fix that.) Clicking the photograph produces a pop-up with limited resolution. For barely legible markers, this might make the difference between being able to read it or not.

Oops. This was supposed to be a short announcement.

Find A Grave: now indexed on FamilySearch.org. Done.


  1. Glad to see this comparison; I suspect most if not all of us who search for graves and ancestorss' information would prefer one very thorough source.
    Small point, I think you meant to use the word 'stable' in the following:
    "which I consider to be one of the most stabile genealogy companies in the universe." Using the meaning of stabile adds some interesting interpretations to Ancestry.com.
    Stabile: a freestanding abstract sculpture or structure, typically of wire or sheet metal, in the style of a mobile but rigid and stationary.

  2. Watch out how you use information from Findagrave. I found a findagrave record for one of my great grandmothers and the creator of the page had also written a really neat life sketch for her. I scrolled across it and copied it, with his name as creator, and pasted it into her Life sketch section on her FamilySearch Family Tree Details Page. My name got listed as the contributor, which made the findagrave guy think I was plagerizing his work. He contacted me in a rude and frantic way, and I took it down. At that point, I decided I was going to use Billiongraves every possible time I could, rather than findagrave. After all, family history is not a for-profit venture and certainly shouldn't be a site for contention.

  3. To me the fact that the BillionGraves' entry is "less mature" than the one on Find A Grave is a feature, not a bug. The volunteers who post photos on Find A Grave are wonderful, and I have found a lot of good information there. But -- beware the Find A Grave "virtual cemetery" entries, which can be compiled biographical sketches assembled from records which do not all belong to the same family. I have written the owner of one 'virtual cemetery' memorial, advising him that he has cross-linked the records from two different families due to a bad Ancestry hint, and asked him to take down the erroneous info, but I have not gotten any reply. But if you trace the individuals mentioned in the memorial from cradle to grave, it's easy to see that there are two couples with similar names, and of the six children listed in the memorial, three belong to one family and three belong to the other. The two parents have different dates of birth AND different dates of death, and died in different parts of the state. How many junk biographies will be added to FamilySearch's Family Tree now because someone sees an entry on Find A Grave and assumes the creator of the memorial has special knowledge, instead of using common sense?

  4. The findagrave.com entries, such as your example, that give data with no source citations are a problem. This includes the many examples where specific vital dates are given that are not on the gravestone. Creators of memorials should give exactly what the gravestone states, with specific citation for anything else.

    BillionGraves has the major flaw of never giving a County identification for USA cemeteries. GPS coordinates do not compensate for this.

  5. Both are useful especially if not in the area to take a photo. Although it would be great if those taking the photos shared them all for anyone to use. Cemeteries are public places and anyone can take photos. I have had a problem with two of my farm family cemeteries that were photographed by "volunteers" and are now "owners" even though they are not related. Both had inaccurate additional information and some stone dates have faded as I have photos from 40 years ago. One would not change anything as he was the "owner"; the other considered it. it was not worth my time. I wondered if someone like myself could also post and claim the same cemetery. Somehow the end game does not seem to have been thought out.

    1. Not all cemeteries are public places. Many are privately owned. When people buy their lot/space in a cemetery, they own that piece of ground and have a deed for it. In some cemeteries, you are only allowed to photograph your own family. People need to consult the office for their policy. If the relative you are referencing with the faded stone is within 4 generations, Find a Grave policy dictates that you have the right to request transfer of that listing by signing up as a member. Or, you can sign up as a member and then add the photo of the stone that shows it better in the photo section. You don't have to manage (or own) the page to do that, anyone can add a photo to any of the pages. Consult the section "Help with Find a Grave" for all the policies and FAQ. Duplicating listings and cemeteries are definitely against their policy. Like anywhere, there is always some people that are nice and cooperative and then some that a little power brings out the worst in them ie adding a page to Find a Grave. Best regards

  6. Hi,

    I want to let you know that two of your blog posts are listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2014/12/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-december-5.html

    Have a great weekend!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.