Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How to find your ancestors on Findagrave.com for Tombstone Tuesday

Find your ancestors at FindaGrave. Dane Genealogy and Family History BlogIn keeping with the concept of Tombstone Tuesday, I thought I'd share my experience with finding my own ancestors on Findagrave.com. First, what is Findagrave.com? It's basic function is to post photos of headstones and other grave markers. For each person the grave marker represents, there is a profile page. For example, here is the profile page for my grandmother, Maude Sutton (Conrad). The marker shows in the image at right:

The profile pages also tend to contain a great deal of information about the person as well. Often birth and death dates are listed (most often from the headstone itself, but sometimes from other sources). Sometimes there are brief histories posted and often there are additional photos. My own way of using the site is to post other non-headstone photos and biographies wherever I have them.

But let's say you didn't know exactly where your ancestor was buried. Let's say you just knew the state and the exact spelling of their name. In my experience, if you know this much, and the name isn't a common one, you are going to be able to find them through Findagrave's search function.... assuming they have a profile. For example, I recently went on the site and for some reason it occurred to me to search for my great great grandfather John Blumer. Here's a link to the search results that came up for John Blumer in California. Imagine my surprise when I found that only a month ago, someone added John Blumer, and his wife Edith Walford to Findagrave's index! There are thousands of volunteers who make a hobby of photographing these headstones. Some of them have made it their personal mission to photograph all of the headstones in certain cemeteries. So, like in the case of my great great grandfather, all I had to do was wait for one of these enterprising souls to get around to my relatives and I was able to see their shared headstone:

Another fantastic feature of Findagrave is that it allows the profiles of related individuals to be linked. I was able to find the headstones and grave markers for an entire line of ancestors through this feature by starting with my 3X great grandfather John Farwell Anderson. You'll notice that his parents are listed, with links to their profiles. If you follow the Anderson links from son to father, you'll see four full generations have profiles there, and the oldest, the elder Abraham Anderson's profile says the names of his parents as well. That's five generations in one quick chain of links.

One of my favorite recent developments is that Ancestry.com is now linking to Findagrave.com profiles through its hints feature. I have found numerous Findagrave profiles simply by following links that I didn't have to search for. Pretty cool.

I know these results aren't going to be typical and that my extensive years of research into my family tree give me a serious leg up. But I wanted to write about it anyway and provide some tips to those that might find it useful or interesting.


Grant Davis said...

Yes, I love findagrave. This site is so helpful in doing research.

www.HungarianFamilyRecord.org said...

I think I am finally going to volunteer as well and get some of my family done on there this summer. If I do not do it, no one else will! I especially like the linking of families because even though I know where everyone is buried, my other family do not not know. I find that many people who do not do genealogy or navigate family websites or wikis well, they can follow Find- a-Grave.