Have you heard of the BillionGraves initiative? If not, you certainly will. The goal of a valuable partner of FamilySearch, AppTime (who has created the billiongraves.com website and smartphone app, both for Apple iPhone and Google Android models*), is to provide an expansive family history database for records and images from the world’s cemeteries, all tagged with GPS locations.
This allows users to search for names of ancestors using a variety of search fields and then find the exact physical location of graves bearing those names using satellite technology. BillionGraves is counting on volunteers to download the smartphone camera app, make sure the GPS feature is activated, take photos of grave markers, upload images, and help with indexing. The company is off to a great start!
On Friday, April 20, 2012, the Product Engineering and Product Management Divisions at FamilySearch conducted a BillionGraves service project at the Murray City Cemetery. Over 200 volunteers met at the stake center across the street at 9:00 a.m. for a continental breakfast, instruction, and team assignments before 30 groups headed to the cemetery! When the work wrapped up, they met back at the church for lunch and a guest speaker before calling it a day.
It was a great turn-out, and teams were able to take pictures of all the graves in the entire cemetery! Over 14,000! Here are two images from the website that show the before and after tags that were available—just to illustrate how much work can be accomplished by an organized group.
Now the indexing work can begin. If you would like to participate in indexing the Murray City Cemetery graves:
- Log in at www.billiongraves.com (you will need to register if you are a first-time user).
- Click Transcribe.
- Specify the Murray City Cemetery.
- Images from the Murray Cemetery will come up.
- Transcribe the images.
What’s even more exciting is that by the first of May, BillionGraves records will be searchable on the FamilySearch.org website!
BillionGraves is a wonderful way to participate firsthand in achieving our family history vision of fulfilling our divinely appointed responsibility to help members find their families! Everyone involved was able to feel the spirit of this great work in which we are all involved.
You and your ward can also get involved in this life-changing project—by taking photos, indexing, or both! It is perfect for youth service activities, Eagle Scout projects, and ward and stake gatherings. Let us know what you think of the BillionGraves website by posting on the blog.
Barry Nay, a FamilySearch employee, takes a photo of the gravestone of Alvin G. Green, a pioneer who came into the Salt Lake Valley in September 1847 at the age of 18 in the Ira Eldridge wagon train, and who is a great-great-grandfather of FamilySearch editor-in-chief, David Green.
*iPhone is a registered trademark of Apple, Inc. Android is a registered trademark of Google Inc.