I use FindaGrave.com quite a bit. When I first started using it about 3 years ago and I mainly used it to find memorials that matched the people in my database. Then I realized that you could link people together in FindaGrave and I started requesting links. This was a slow and tedious process and I wondered if it was really worth the time and effort until recently when they added the ‘Edits’ feature. You can now easily submit updated info and links for memorials. Now, why is this important?
1. It is free and it allows everyone to come together and submit info.
2. It is self correcting: if someone submits incorrect info either the memorial manager will correct it or someone else can correct it and they usually do.
3. You can request a volunteer to take a picture of a tombstone when it is clear across the country. Tombstones are valid source documentation and solidify other documentation when combined.
4. I can volunteer to take cemetery pics. This is a great way to give back to the genealogical community that has helped me so much over the years. I also do it as a service to my family and to the churches. I suggest that churches post a link on their web site so that members and their families can view the records (hopefully they will add info too). The new FindaGrave app on my smartphone makes getting those pics posted online a breeze!
Ok, there are my reasons for using FindaGrave. Are there some things I don’t like about it? Sure, there is always room for improvement but they seem to be working on it and now that Ancestry owns it I am sure the improvements will continue.
Why don’t I just use Ancestry.com to find FindaGrave sources. I do, but I have found that actually using/searching FindaGrave allows me to find entire families at a time because they often use the same cemetery or ones in the same area.
How do I use it with Family Tree Maker?
- Open Family Tree Maker and find a family to work on. Sometimes I filter my people to find those where the Death field isn’t empty but my FindaGrave ID field is blank (if you don’t have a FindaGrave ID field be sure to set one up). Remember that you can only search for dead people here – no living (at least we hope not).
- Open Internet Browser to the FindaGrave Search page (Hint: bookmark or add a link to your browser). I size the right side of my browser window so that when it opens I can still see all of the person’s Information Panel (Tree View) on the right-hand side.
- I do several searches to try and find people. If a search brings up too many results then I change/add data to narrow it down. If a search doesn’t bring up any results then I try another search. Be sure to use ‘Refine Last Search’ to save typing but also be sure to use ‘Begin New Search’ when starting a new search.
- First name, last name
- First initial, last name, death year
- First initial, last name, state (best guess based on birth loc or parent/spouse loc)
- Last name, death year, state
- Try 1-3 using middle name (especially common with southern folk)
- Try using the first 3 only in the last name as spelling variations can cause problems.
- Try using nicknames.
- Realize that the record just might not be in FindaGrave yet. If you know the cemetery where they are buried carefully search the cemetery in FindaGrave and then add a record and request a pic.
Searching for Women – of course we are special!
- Women are usually found by their married surname instead of maiden name in FindaGrave.
- You can try searching for the maiden name if you check the ‘Include maiden name(s) in my search’.
- Remember that sometimes women marry again and then are found under the new husband’s surname OR sometimes they get divorced and are found under their maiden name.
When you find a good match:
- Copy/paste the dates and FindaGrave ID into FTM (Hint: Use CTRL C to copy and CTRL V to paste).
- Copy the places into FTM and remove the word ‘County’ and add commas as needed. Remember that you can easily select an entire place by clicking on the outside edge of a place field. This makes pasting in the same places a breeze.
- Copy/paste the cemetery name and plot info info Buried Description field.
- Now search FindaGrave for related family in the same cemetery/town/county/state by clicking the “Find all _Surname_ in:”
- If you have info in FTM that you can add to FindaGrave click the ‘Edit’ tab and submit corrections/additions. Be sure to only submit good solid info. (I will create another post on submitting corrections/additions to FindaGrave.)
- If there isn’t a tombstone pic for this person then you can click the ‘Request a Photo’ button.
- Be sure to source FindaGrave.
To date I have found 8,410 records. I was able to do a quick ‘not blank’ filter on my FindaGrave field to find how many FindaGrave IDs I had out of 30, 762 records. 27% isn’t too shabby and I keep pecking away at it.