Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Find a Grave - What's up with Virtual Cemeteries?

One of my favorite things about Find A Grave is the ability to create Virtual Cemeteries and I have created plenty!  It's a great way to organize the memorials the way I want.

I have Virtual Cemeteries by surname, by cemetery, and even by Civil War Regiment.  Whatever serves your are in control!

You may be wondering.....why have a virtual cemetery at all?  Remember last week when we talked about how to ask for a memorial transfer?  What happens when that transfer is denied?  This is important to remember about virtual can put ANY memorial in a virtual cemetery.  You don't have to manage the memorial.

Take my BOTKIN surname for example.  I created a Virtual Cemetery for Botkin Family members and as I come across their memorials on Find A Grave I place them in the virtual cemetery.  As of today this VC holds  440 Botkin family members.  The overwhelming majority of those I do not manage.  (The ones you manage will be in bold type).  I can keep them all together in this way.  My Virtual Cemetery contains memorials from many different real cemeteries!

Let's take a look at another of my VC's this one for Center Grove Cemetery.  I have 70 ancestors buried in Center Grove from more than one of my family surnames.  By creating a virtual cemetery and placing my family members in here I can manipulate the information in a couple of ways.

Say I am planning a research trip to Wabash County and will be making a stop by Center Grove Cemetery.  By going to my Contributor Tools page I can download my data from my Center Grove VC into a tab-delimited Excel sheet.  In this way I can manipulate the data any way I would like.  For example, I can choose to sort by memorials with no photo.

So how do you go about creating a Virtual Cemetery?  That part is easy!  Go to your Contributor Tools page then click on the Edit button across from "my virtual cemeteries".  From here you can add any VC you would like or edit one that you have already created.  Now go to a memorial that you want to add to the VC.   As you scroll down the memorial you will see a link to "edit virtual cemetery info".  Click on that link and a list of your VC's will come up.  Click the box in front of the VC you want to add the memorial to.  Now click save changes.  That's it!

The last way I use my VC is as a cross check with my FTM program.  If you click on the Places tab in FTM you will get a list of all the locations you have entered in the program.  I enter all cemeteries as: Cemetery - Center Grove.  When I click on this it will tell me who from my database is buried here.  If it lists 73 people and I only have 70 in my VC then I know I am missing 3 people in my VC.  I can use the list in FTM to determine who is missing.

See how handy those VC's can be?  See why my love affair with Find A Grave continues?!

So far I've covered How to Suggest a Correction, How to Ask For a Memorial Transfer and How to Set Up a Virtual Cemetery.  But what else can you do with Find A Grave?  Next week I'll cover some of the other neat features Find A Grave offers!


  1. What an eye-opener! I had never thought of Virtual Cemeteries as a research tool.

  2. Thanks for the post! I never knew you could do this!

  3. I have created only 38 virtual cemeteries, but I notice many people don't use this tool at all. Mine are all surname based with a "W" or "L" in front of the surname to show they are from my lineage or from my husband's lineage. I try to place everyone of that surname and those connected to that surname, such as spouses and spouses of children that may have other surnames, in the associated virtual cemetery, sometimes placing them in two if need be. There are also memorials that I don't ask for transfers but want to keep tabs on, so when I come across a more distantly related person, I drop them in a virtual cemetery. It's a great tool.

    1. Lisa:

      I love the idea of the W or L in front to keep my lineage seperate from my husbands! I also place spouses and children in the same VC. I's a great tool!

  4. Thanks for sharing this info. I was wonder what in the world was the purpose for virtual cemeteries. Now I know!

  5. While the concept of a virtual cemetery can serve various valid purposes, but as the questioners show, virtual cemeteries can be misleading to the not-so-well informed. Not everyone finding virtual cemeteries side-by-side with actual cemeteries understands that they are not real cemeteries. There is enough confusion and enough bad family pedigrees out there. For clarity, Find-A-Grave should make it crystal clear that a virtual cemetery is not a real cemetery where real people are buried. Every virtual cemetery should be required to make that clear at each virtual cemetery site. There is too much confusion to deal with without making it worse. That is my opinion.