How I Use FindAGrave

I have a fairly strict policy for how I use information on FindAGrave:

I use the picture of the stone. I cite the source.  If it appears that there is a transcription of the stone on the “memorial” page and I have difficulty transcribing the stone from the picture, then I may use the transcription as published on the “memorial” page.

That’s it.

Additional information on the “Memorial” page, including links to parents, siblings, children, etc. is not copied into my genealogical database. I have no way of knowing how the information was obtained, analyzed, etc. If there is a date and place of obituary included, I may use that information to locate the actual obituary. I do not rely on the transcribed copy of the obituary.

I realize that one does not often know where a submitter obtains information. I don’t use database information from WorldConnect, Ancestry.com trees, or other online “trees” in my personal database either.

I use FindAGrave  to locate photographs of tombstones in cemeteries that I am unable to personally visit. I find it a wonderful genealogical resource and have located burials that I would have had difficulty locating otherwise. I am grateful for those who take the time to photograph tombstones and place the images on FindAGrave.

I simply choose to only use it for the tombstone information.

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Readers, of course, are welcome to use information on FindAGrave as they see fit. Our goal here is to get readers thinking about information, sources, and how they analyze information. Readers are free to disagree–I just want people to think.

Never take anything at face value.

It’s always possible the stone really isn’t in the cemetery that the submitter claims.

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10 thoughts on “How I Use FindAGrave

  1. h j collins says:

    The transcript of my gr great grandfather’s grave stone said “born in the USA”. I have church records from Germany; Civil War service records; censuses; death record, pension records, etc.
    How do people get these crazy ideas? (it was taken down after a while)
    I have the same problems with Ancestry—lots of erroneous information that is a conclusion that someone jumped to

    • If your gr great grandfather was born in Germany, please submit a correction using the edit button, and let the person who maintains the memorial know that the information they have posted is incorrect.

  2. Just a quick question, where do you “use” the marker photo? Only in a PC-based genealogy software? In an online database? In your blog?

  3. James Rogers says:

    I for one find “most” information on Find A Grave to be MUCH more accurate than the junk on Ancestry Family Trees. Of course, I treat the material as unproven, but even so it looks like such a strict interpretation is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. What makes one think the stone inscription is accurate? It is often not, especially for birth years. ALL information should be verified.

    • Any information can be correct or incorrect–there’s no doubt in that and stones are no more accurate than anything else. My personal viewpoint on FindAGrave is to use it as a place to locate tombstone images. Information on the stone can be inaccurate and I’m not saying that the stone is any more likely to be correct than other documents or records. Seeing the actual stone makes it easier to determine how legible it really was, whether is was probably placed years or decades after the individual’s death, etc. Those are things that impact how reliable a transcription really is.

      And I’m not saying people can’t use the other information there–I’m simply saying that I choose not to after having seen several cemeteries read by individuals unfamiliar with the local families and the non-English immigrant names.

  4. I use it for only the gravestone pictures. I save the “memorial page” for possible leads. I compare the information with what I have or use the information for searching new leads. One gravestone picture actually broke down a brick wall. Under my 2nd great grandfathers name was (his daughter) my gr-grandmothers name and death date! Up until then she was a mystery, disappeared from records so we figured that she probably died shortly after the birth of my grandfather in 1879 but didn’t have proof.

  5. Images of obituaries and death certificates or other documents pertaining to the deceased person are often submitted to Find-A-Grave. I have found them to be very useful because it is the image of the actual document, not a transcription.

  6. On Find-A-Grave even the transcriptions of obits have value. Just because it is a digital image of a document, doesn’t mean that the information is correct. Many times the person providing the information for the obit or death certificate gives incorrect information or the person taking down the information gets it wrong.

    My grandfather was the informant for his mother’s death certificate. Did he really say that her father’s surname was “Brown” or did he actually say “Bryant” and the funeral director misunderstood and wrote “Brown”? Thank goodness I did not find her death certificate until I had researched for 5 years and documented from other sources that her family name was Bryant. It makes me ill to think of how I could have based my research on her death certificate!

  7. I am sorry you “doubters” have such a problem with findagrave.com. I personally LOVE IT. I use it as a free source to put all my 40 years of research, photos, data and connections for my families and friends on it. Each person has his or her own page–how awesome. And yes, I have typed the obituary information and asked people who have posted the obits. to remove them (esp. those taking 2 .jpgs or pictures worth of space). Only 5 pics can be added to each person and if one is used for death cert. or obit. pic eliminates portraits–young, old, wedding, etc. And yes, I have added more than 5 pics by paying to remove ads. Practically, all the family photos I have obtained and placed there (cropped, fixed) have been copied to Ancestry, which pleases me, because if I didn’t have those two sources to SHARE pics and information, I know the information would be lost. I am the family genealogist for many families and am the one who has inherited those old precious pics. And for two tombstones I found to be inaccurate, I have posted that info. too. Good luck finding any more proof for some of my families than I have gleaned from Irish and German-Russian ancestors, because in the last few years–actual documents have shown up for the ACCURATE information I was given by ancestors. How many documents proving a birth, and death do some people have to have??? I know people that doubt death certificates, tombstones and newspaper articles, personal journals and everything else. How sad–mostly our ancestors just want to be found. The death of one ancestor I have is approximate date (he was found dead at the ranch) since no knows when EXACTLY he died, that didn’t stop me from posting a date and explaining it. I am really tired of the “bad words and criticism” given to all those on-line trees and findagrave. Sometimes I have FOUND and USED that “so called misinformation” and found goldmines of information, that came about because of 1 little clue. And by the way my memorials and trees are researched and are as accurate as I could make them after 40 years of research. And my trees and findagrave info. is copied and copied, and I have received LOTS of additional information to fill in the blanks (rec’d 4 obits this week from a kind researcher). Thank Goodness!!

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