So That's Where I Get It From

June 4, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy – Challenge #22: Find-a-Grave

Filed under: Challenge #22: Find-a-Grave, CHALLENGES — Tags: , — rootsresearcher @ 9:40 pm
This is the first time I have taken part in any of these challenges – not because I didn’t want to, it’s just that I have only very recently discovered them and Thomas MacEntee from GeneaBloggers’ invite to take part has prompted me to have a go!!

So we are asked to have a browse around the Find-a-Grave website, click on the links and study what others have done there. I have never been to Find-a-Grave, but kept meaning to have a look, so this Challenge is the perfect opportunity for me to have a go at a Challenge and visit this particular website.

Although we were asked not to do our own research for this Challenge, I felt as my interests were mainly in the UK that I would have a look at the New Search, England section. I was a little disappointed to find that I could not do a particular county in England search, especially as maybe doing a general surname search would throw up too many names for the whole country. They also had a Birth Date section and a Death Date section but if you did not know one or other of those dates for your ancestors, you would probably get all dates when searching for a particular name. Maybe I have found it too easy at other sites, but it seems to me that with the Birth or Death Date section it could be good to also have a from/to part of that date within 2 years either way, or 5 years, or 10 years.

I then tried Cemetery Search, England and thought I would just have a browse in certain counties to see if any I would be interested in were there. We are asked to put the name of the cemetery in the space and the country/state. I could not put a name of a cemetery as I did not know one without checking my records, so left it blank. I chose England and a message appeared on the screen: “Too many records. This query would return 6,397 records. Please go back and refine the search so that it returns no more than 6,000 records”. So I went back to refine, thinking I could choose a county in England to narrow down the amount of records that would be returned. But, there was no option for me to do that. So, my general cemetery search in England left me with nothing to see unless I had a particular name for one.

Undaunted, I went on to check Add Burial Records. I thought that maybe if this site was so good (and I have seen on various genealogy blogs many people praising the website, then maybe when I wasn’t doing this challenge, I would add some of the burial records I had collected. I chose the section Family and Friends and was then going to click on Quick Submit for adding to the same cemetery. So I first clicked on Family and Friends and saw a Member Login section. A message informed me that “You must be a member of Find-a-Grave to Access the page you requested”. I received the same message for Quick Submit too. I am not a member of this website and only wanted to have a look to see what was required if I wanted to start adding Burial Records. I could not access anything, so I have no idea if this is what I would want to do as I didn’t get the chance to check it over!!

I went to the Help with FAQ section and found the FAQs very easy to follow and they also made everything very clear. There was one question that asked What is a photo volunteer? The answer explained it very well but I thought it such a shame that this is only available in America. Why is it not implemented in the UK or elsewhere yet? I would certainly be willing to be a photo volunteer and would also be grateful to find a photo volunteer in the UK where I can’t get to. I’m sure there must be some UK genealogists and those that like to visit cemeteries who would be happy to be a Photo Volunteer. Anyway, overall, even if this is only available in America at the moment, it is a great idea and must be extremely helpful to many people.

I took a stroll through the Find-a-Grave online cemetery and found it very interesting and it was really nice to see people left messages for some of those that it was clear were not their ancestors at all. Very nice touch.

My next port of call on this website was going to be browsing their Claim to Fame section but as is normally the case, other things have taken my time so I have not been able to dip into that yet, nor a few other places on the site.

If I was actually looking at that website to do my own research instead of looking at it for this latest Challenge, I would have been very unlucky as I did not get a chance to narrow down searches or find particular areas I wanted. But, having said that I am thinking that if I had all my genealogy notes with me as I looked at the site, then I more than likely would be able to narrow my search and maybe find what I wanted. And maybe, if I was a member of the website it would enable me to access other sections.

Although this proved a little disappointing for me, I could see that overall it is a wonderful place for those seeking ancestors’ burial places and also for making a memorial for their loved ones. I will go back and finish trying to look at everything else on that website, and I will become a member, as I would like to help by adding the burial details I have collected over the years and as I am now a Graveyard Rabbit for a couple of churchyards, I would like to add details from those to Find-a-Grave too.

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