A Grave Citation Mistake

I believe in citation of sources.

But there’s a problem with the citation that is currently being auto-generated by Find A Grave. It’s not in the format, the syntax, or the grammar.

It’s in what is “cited.”

The cemetery is being cited in the auto-generated Find A Grave citation as having the “original” (after the Memorial number in the illustration shown). Most Find A Grave memorials contain information that is not at the cemetery and is not a part of the cemetery’s records. In the memorial referenced in the illustration (146179129), the only thing on the memorial page that is actually either in the cemetery or a part of the cemetery’s records is the tombstone. I’ve been to the cemetery cited in this illustration numerous times. The picture of John is not in the cemetery. The relationships stated on the memorial page are not stated anywhere in the cemetery (John is buried next to his parents, but his siblings are buried several rows east of him and his parents–there are no proximity clues and there are no footstones suggesting relationships as are sometimes found). Other memorials include biographical information on the deceased–most of the time that is not in the cemetery either.

The cemetery should not be cited in the citation as the “citing” portion of the citation. There are times to use that format in a citation (usually for sites that have digitized Family History Library or National Archives microfilm where the original microfilm publication is cited in this fashion) .

This is not one of those times–particularly since Find A Grave memorials generally contain information not on the tombstone or in the cemetery’s records. Including the name of the cemetery in the Find A Grave citation is a good idea, just not in this way. “Burial listing” or some similar phrase may be a better approach.

Creating a citation to the memorial facilitates users citing Find A Grave. That’s a good thing. But that citation should not suggest that the cemetery is where all the information in the memorial was obtained. It wasn’t.



4 thoughts on “A Grave Citation Mistake

    • Thanks.
      My personal approach is to only use tombstone photograph from FindAGrave. THe other information is too variable in terms of accuracy and reliability. Others may take different approaches and may disagree with my approach, but that’s how I operate.

  1. I’m not sure that “burial listing” is a better choice than “citing.” Both could be taken to mean that some sort of record (other than the tombstone) exists in some office at the named cemetery.
    Why not just list, e.g. in the U. S., the following: Cemetery Name, City, County, State, USA?

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