BillionGraves, Find-A-Grave

Find-A-Grave Post on Amy Johnson Crow’s Blog

Found this article by Amy Johnson Crow about Find-A-Grave.

Amy raises two good points on ways to improve Find-A-Grave. In addition to her article, Dick Eastman adds a third point in his article: I will add some other reasons that apply equally to obituaries and death certificates.

Amy’s two (2) points are 1) 30 day wait for non-family members to add memorials for the recently departed and 2) removing the numbers. Both points are valid.

Dick Eastman makes the point BillionGraves requires photos for its records and suggests Find-A-Grave should do likewise.

A major problem with obituaries as well as death certificates is incorrect cemetery information. In a fair number of cases, the wrong cemetery is listed and in others, the wrong town, and in some cases, the wrong county is listed. In some cases, the name for the cemetery is incorrectly listed or they use a variation of the cemetery’s name. I ran across twelve (12) obituaries for one rural cemetery and the obituaries placed this cemetery in six (6) towns spread across three (3) counties. It took a while for me to track down the cemetery because it was so small, it didn’t have a phone number or mailing address. Another problem is when a person is originally buried in Cemetery A, but is later moved to Cemetery B. While the obituary may have the cemetery correct initially, it stops being correct once the person has been relocated.

As mentioned, death certificates suffer the same problems as obituaries. In the case of death certificates, many only include the town’s name and not the name of the cemetery which leads to some wrongly assuming the cemetery’s name is something like Town X Cemetery and adding a new cemetery that doesn’t exist and putting the memorial in it.

Addit: Another problem with obituaries and death certificates is the Last Name At Death (LNAD) may not match the headstone and one of Find-A-Grave’s only requirements is the surname on the headstone must be the surname on the memorial. For women, many pre-need headstones use an earlier married name or a hyphenated surname that doesn’t match the obituary or death certificate surname. Worse, if the person has two married surnames on her headstone and is on Find-A-Grave with both married surnames, hyphenated or not, only the first married surname is searchable. For example, headstone has Mary Smith Jones where Smith was husband number 1 and Jones was husband 2. Under present Find-A-Grave rules, her memorial should have Smith Jones as the last name. If you add her that way and search for her under Mary Jones in the cemetery, you wouldn’t find her. This is a lot more common than most people realize. I ran across one headstone with not only her maiden name, but her five married names.

While I agree with Dick and Amy’s suggested improvements, I don’t see Find-A-Grave implementing them as they have repeatedly made it clear they won’t make such changes.