Thursday, May 24, 2012

Billions and billions served ....

BillionGraves is a newcomer in to the world of online genealogy having been launched the Summer of 2011.  This website was recently brought to my attention by my genealogy and work colleague, Erin Rigby.  Headstones, new and old, can be photographed to provide much needed help to genealogists.  Families are far more mobile and less likely to stay in one place for an extended time period, creating "orphaned" graves.  Older monuments are preserved for posterity as they eventually succumb to weathering over the decades and centuries or the unfortunate case of vandalism.  This site is truly connecting the past, present, and future.

I admit I joined the site out of curiosity and have found it very user friendly.  I have taken photos, uploaded them, and transcribed not only mine but those of others as well.  I've even had the privilege of "adding" a cemetery that wasn't included in the site's database.

Screen shot of a partially photographed cemetery.
Using Google Maps and the GPS coordinates from a
smart phone, the layout of a cemetery can easily be seen.
Don't feel like you're experiencing deja vu, some aspects of BillionGraves are similar to that of Find-a-Grave.  Find-a-Grave creates an entry for each burial in a cemetery with the option of loading photos.  BillionGraves only allows legible, photographed entries that are transcribed at a later time from data uploaded by smart phones utilizing GPS technology on iPhone and Android devices. Each photo is encoded with coordinates that allow the grave site to be pinpointed on Google Maps which in turn can provide you with driving directions if you wanted to visit to pay your respects.  You must have their "app" installed on your device (available for free on iTunes and Market) to participate in taking and loading the photos to the website.

If you don't have a smart phone, you can still volunteer to participate.  Transcribers are needed to enter the inscriptions in the photo so the database is searchable.  Names, dates of birth, death, and marriages, epitaphs, and additional notations are all possibilities for a photo.  It's possible to have more than one photo associated, these photos are "linked" during the process of taking the photographs. The back of a stone may have a phrase, list of children, etc., or, if it's an obelisk, there may possibly be names, epitaphs, etc, on multiple sides.

Everyone one from shutterbugs taking a walk through the cemetery to the stay at home transcriber typing the day away can help share genealogy discoveries with the world.

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