How To Find A Grave Online

Now we will look into a fantastic research tool, another one of my favorite ways to research and get to know my ancestors. Have you ever considered the amount of information that you can derive from visiting your ancestor’s gravesites?

I enjoy finding deceased family members in cemeteries; if I could, I would make a vacation out of it, by researching to know where that relative was living when they died, then traveling to those destinations and finding the cemeteries, also the search to find them, the taking pictures of their headstones markers. I know this probably doesn’t sound like a vacation to you but doesn’t it sound like it could be fun. Ok, each to their own. LOL

We will investigate and answer the above question in this article and accomplish it by looking at two websites and what is unique about each. These websites were developed to promote the sharing of volunteers. Let’s see how to find a grave online.

Grave Websites what do they have to offer

Find A Grave:

Find A Grave, created in 1995, is the best place on the internet to look for burial and other final disposition information for your family, friends, and famous people. The site provides tools that let people worldwide work together, share information, and build an online, virtual cemetery experience.

At Find A Grave, you’ll find information about cemeteries and Memorials for many people buried in those cemeteries. Memorials generally include birth, death, and burial information and may consist of pictures, biographies, family information, and the list continues. Members can contribute what they know and can leave remembrances through ‘virtual flowers’ on the memorials they visit.

Their goal is to help people from all over the world work together to find, record, and present final disposition information as a virtual cemetery experience. [1]

Behind the scenes of Find A Grave

Thousands of contributors submit new listings, updates, corrections, photographs, and virtual flowers every hour. The site wouldn’t exist without the million-plus contributors. When it comes to administrating, building, and maintaining the site, a handful of folks work behind the scenes helping out daily.[2]

To begin any searches, you need to register there are no fees involved. Then you can start a search right away.

Let’s start a search: I am looking for my Great Grandfather’s headstone; I know his birth year, death year, and where he died.

Find A Grave Home Page Search Ancestor

However, for my search, I will use Name, Birth Year, and Death Year and not the location.

Find A Grave Search Results

Here we see the search results on the Memorial page. Moreover, Yes, this is my Great Grandfather, and the location matches what I already knew. Additionally, there is a bonus; I have identified my Great Grandmother and my Grandfather, as you can see. I also have access to a picture of their headstones and the information they provide.

By clicking on the photo, we come to the Photo section of the Memorial page; under the picture, we see “Photo added by Gene.” By clicking on “Gene,” we can view his information and contact him by email if we wanted to make contact. I won’t display Gene’s information; you can try it out with your search. Let’s continue by clicking on the Flowers. Leave some Flowers and a Message.

A screenshot of a cell phone Description automatically generated

By scrolling to the bottom of any Section on the Memorial page, we can find the Souce Citation. Remember, you need the source citation when you copy and use any information.

Find A Grave Source Citation Example

Contribute to Find A Grave

Let me show you another couple of places you might enjoy. So click on Contribute, and we will see what fun things you can do to assist.

Find A Grave Contribute To

Add a Memorial

Let’s say you have searched, and there was no memorial for your ancestor, and you have photos of your ancestor’s headstone, with the name of the cemetery, and you would like to share. You can add a Memorial for your ancestor.

We’ll begin by selecting Add Memorials, then type in your location where the cemetery is and select “Vesuvius, Rockbridge County, Virginia, The United States of America as my location.

Find A Grave Add A Memorial

Select the Cemetery.

Find A Grave Find A Cemetery Location

On the next screen, you will be creating the memorial for this ancestor. Only enter what you have from the headstone marker, don’t guess; you can always add more information later.

Find A Grave Add Headstone Data to Memorial

Now that the creation is complete, you can Click Add Photos.

Find A Grave Ancestor Added To Memorial

Select Photos, let them load, then select Done.

Find A Grave Uploaded Photos To Memorial

Now we can See the Photos, but we need to choose one as our cover photo, so we Click on 2 Photos.

Find A Grave Photos In Memorial

In the Photos Screen; we can select which picture we want as our Cover Photo.

Find A Grave Selecting Cover Photo For Memorial

Find A Grave Set Cover Photo For Memorial

Click the Picture we want to move. Check Box “Set as Cover Photo” Cover Photo is saved.

Find A Grave Memorial Cover Photo Set

Memorial is now complete, and we can add it to our Favorite Genealogy Website Family Tree, and it will be available to share with others in Find A Grave.

Find A Grave is my favorite; I have used it many times. I also Copy the memorials similar to this one to my OneNote Note Genealogy Notebook with the full source citation to attach it to my Ancestral Quest Genealogy Software program.[3]

You can also contribute through the Transcribe Photos option; as large cemetery files are loaded, there is always the need for someone to transcribe(index) the information from the headstone marker.

As you can see, you would continue by filling in the readable data. Notice the Community Photos waiting for transcribing was 870 when I took this screenshot — lots to do.


Indexing is one of my favorite pastimes; I enjoy being able to contribute in this fashion. I have done some indexing with old documents, but not headstone markers other than my own. I am going to enjoy this adventure.

Find A Grave Contribute Transcribe Photo


Billion Graves Home Page Search

BillionGraves started in 2012 and is unique in how its program is set up from what I can find. They rely on members to take pictures and transcribe and earn credit towards BillionGrades Plus membership fees.

Their goal is to preserve records found in cemeteries throughout the world. They use modern technology to capture headstones’ images with their GPS locations so users worldwide can access those records anywhere. They strive to preserve at least one billion graves. Moreover, they say they won’t stop there and that they can achieve this goal.

They claim to be the world’s largest resource for searchable GPS cemetery data and is growing bigger and better every day. The website users help collect headstone images from local and other cemeteries and then transcribe the personal information found on the photos. You will need to register at no cost to begin; there have paid plans available. Continue reading, and I will show you how it works.

Get Started, Have Fun, Earn Points

  1. Pictures: Take photos of local headstones using the BillionGraves app, the best tool for collecting headstone data. It makes gathering images and uploading them as easy as using any camera app. Just point and shoot, then click the upload button when you get home. They will make sure your photos end up in the right place. Your device must have GPS iOS or Android to participate.
  2. Transcribe Photos: Don’t have a smartphone? Then transcribing is a great way to participate in the comfort of your home. Transcribe (index) the photos taken in cemeteries to make them searchable by millions of families looking for their ancestors.
  3. Research Records: Search their free index for family and link records to your favorite family tree resource. They’ve partnered with great companies like FamilySearch, MyHeritage, and FindMyPast. Whatever you find on BillionGraves is copied onto their partner sites.[4]

Why do I need a BillionGraves account?

Billion Graves Why Do I Need A Account

Using the BillionGraves App

BillionGraves Upgrade Memberships

BillionGraves Upgrade Memberships

What are the advantages of BillionGraves Upgrade

I am new to BillionGraves this Website has a lot to offer as I have mentioned a few of those features above. Suppose I were you to register for free but don’t upgrade yet until I’m in love with what it has to offer.

Billion Graves Plus Upgrading To BG


I am impressed; take a look at this cool feature.

If you pan over the Research Button at the top in the dropbox on the home page, you will find BillionGraves Tree; the website loaded my Family Search Tree and now shows possible headstone matches. Wow, how cool is that? I am pretty stoked and can hardly finish this article because I want to get started. Check it out.

BillionGraves Start Matching Your Tree With Cemetery Markers

BillionGraves is a must to join as well as Find A Grave; you must realize just because one of these two websites has the headstone maker of your ancestor does not mean the other one does as well. They do not share their content; they are each other’s competition. There is no reason you cannot belong to both and share your photos with both and find ancestors while using one.

Thank you for taking the time to learn a bit about these two excellent websites. Go ahead and join; you will not regret the decision.

Please feel free to leave a comment and express your opinion on the topic.

Kindest Regards


  1. ‘About – Find A Grave” N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Jun. 2019 sections; what is find a grave? our goal
  2. ‘About – Find A Grave” N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Jun. 2019 sections; who is behind find a grave? the find a grave team
  3. “Find A Grave” N.p.,n.d. Thur. 20 Jun. 2019 Tutorial
  4. “Billiongraves.” N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Jun. 2019

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