Saturday, September 12, 2015

Is Find A Grave Becoming the US Genealogy Reference Standard?

Find A Grave began with a simple premise: a website with a memorial page for each grave in the United States. (I realize Find A Grave is worldwide, but I think it is most heavily used in the United States.) With the website now containing over 130 million entries and the capability of linking individuals to spouses and parents, it may very well be in a unique position.

Since the premise is to have one page per grave, if it were to ever be complete Find A Grave would be a significant foundation for building a genealogical family tree of the United States. Think about that for a moment. Unlike the family trees on ancestry.com and other websites, this website has a UNIQUE record for each individual with the potential to illustrate marriages and ancestry. This is what I mean by Find A Grave becoming the "US genealogy reference standard" - a centralized location that approaches the astounding goal of documenting the family tree of the United States.

Imagine if Find A Grave memorials were expanded to include the ability to document census record appearances, birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, military service, and so forth and so on. Actually, ancestry.com now owns Find A Grave. What if integration of ancestry.com records was to occur? Imagine the genealogical treasure that would be created for future generations.

But, this will only happen if Find A Grave wakes up to discover the potential they have. The site is currently dominated by those that create the memorials, some of them managing over a million memorials. I would venture that the vast majority of memorials are not managed by descendants. I have had difficulty having memorials properly updated, even as a direct descendant. It is not practically possible for one person to process the edits for more than perhaps a few thousand memorials much less have any idea if any of the information is correct.

If you are interested in genealogy, I would encourage you to find the memorials for your ancestors and submit updated information for them or even request ownership of the memorials. And, consider writing to Find A Grave to encourage them to re-orient the rules to favor descendants and expansion of the site to become what it has the potential to become. Right now it is not clear to me that they "get it."

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