Thursday, June 3, 2010

52 Weeks To Better Genealogy - Challenge #22

Week 22: Spend some time at Find-a-Grave. Most of you have probably heard of Find-a-Grave and probably used it in your own research as well. The challenge this week is to simply browse this web site. Just click links. Look at the different ways the information is sorted. Study the tributes of others and see if there are ways you can improve your own entries. Don’t do any research of your own, simply study the efforts of others. If you have a genealogy blog, share your impressions of Find-a-Grave and any interesting entries you found at the web site.

I'm truly excited about this weeks challenge!  I am a 2 year active member of Find a Grave and use it right along side Ancestry as one of my favorite "go to" research sites. 

You can search for your ancestor by their full name, partial name (you must include at least two letters of the surname), by maiden name and also by partial search of the surname.  When you locate a memorial for your ancestor on the site, look over on the left hand panel. It offers you the option of looking for others with the same surname in that cemetery, or the county, or the city, or the state, or on FAG itself! This feature has saved me lots of time and effort searching for my families.

I also make good use of the discussion forums. It’s a great place to ask those nagging questions like, what is the best way to clean an old stone, what about those cemeteries that don’t want you taking photos (sadly, they exist) or what is the meaning of a symbol on a particular grave? The members of the forum are extremely knowledgeable and helpful. The forum entitled “Help With Find A Grave” is a great place for new members to start. Here you can view and ask questions on how the FAG site itself works.

Another feature I love is the Virtual Cemetery feature. I have created virtual cemeteries for 3 of my families. Doing this allows me to see in which cemetery every member of the family is buried. This feature comes in handy when planning a cemetery visit.

Find A Grave also has the fun and popular “Famous Grave Search”. Want to see the grave for Elvis or your favorite celebrity? Just enter their name and visit their grave site “virtually”!

When I have free time or just a few minutes while I’m waiting for something to print, I love to read the Success Stories tab featuring testimonials from members on how Find A Grave has helped them find their ancestor or break through a brick wall.

I know the challenge was just to browse the site but I have to add my plea to everyone reading this post. Please consider becoming a FAG volunteer for your community. This involves fulfilling photo requests for those who are not able to make the trip for themselves. If you don’t want to officially volunteer, when you are planning to visit a cemetery, check out FAG and see if there are any photo requests and consider fulfilling them while you are there. At the very least, while you are taking photos in the cemetery take a few of the stones surrounding your ancestors. When you return home check out Find A Grave and post them to the memorial or create one if none exists.

Since I joined FAG 2 years ago the site has undergone tremendous growth. It is, in my opinion, one of the best FREE genealogical sites on the web.

Thank you for the challenge Amy!


  1. Great post. One of my favorite Find A Grave features is the virtual cemetery. I have created several that cover each of my main research lines. I have included not only the memorials I have created but also other memorials that have been created by others. They are really handy to have all the same line grouped together.

  2. I agree Tracy, it's a great feature!
    Thanks for the comment!

  3. I went to the site and thought about quickly uploading information for some of my relatives, but it felt a little awkward and/or time consuming. I think I am being overly critical because I only had moments to do the investigating. I plan to give it a more thorough look later when I have more time. I have not been able to find photos - just information - for my relatives.
    Is it only for US cemeteries?