This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, I may receive a small commission (at zero cost to you). Please see my full disclosure policy for details.
One of the first FREE websites I discovered during my genealogy search was findagrave.com. Perhaps I was a bit silly when I compared the site to a game of roulette, but it really is a chance game. And although it can offer some amazing FAVORABLE FACTS it can also cause you to stumble in your ancestral research due to FAULTY FACTS.
In today’s post I would like to propose (1) why you should consider becoming a contributor on Find a Grave for your family’s memorials, (2) why you should not brush aside Find a Grave as a viable resource, and (3) why you must be on your guard for faulty “facts” when researching the site.
Anyone with an email account and computer can make themselves a contributor to Find a Grave. These contributors are able to add grave memorials, grave photos, family photos, obituaries, biographies, and suggest family connections with other deceased individuals listed on Find a Grave.
I myself have been able to add memorials for my grandparents and upload grave photos and obituaries for a few other relatives.
One example would be MRS JULIA SHAMPINE YOUNG (My 3rd Great Grandmother)
As you can see – if you look at her memorial, I added a copy of her obituary from The Ogdensburg Journal (copy and paste), added her grave marker photograph, and requested permission to connect her memorial to that of her children and husband, OLIVER A YOUNG, whose memorial was created by another contributor.
So if you are a family historian and find your family member’s memorial poorly tended to, feel free to contact the current moderator to request the role of manager be transferred to you. But know that this is no light position. You can lead people astray in their research with a simple typographical error.
Also, if you can’t find your family member’s memorial listed, you are welcome to create one yourself. Just remember you are providing these records, photos, stories, details to anyone who should deem to hazard a search online.
On a side note, if someone finds their loved one on the site and wishes their memorial to be taken down – Find a Grave will acquiesce at the request of an immediate family member.
The best part of Find a Grave has to be the nuggets of gold you find buried in photographs, memorials, obituaries, and stories.
Two of the best nuggets I found were:
(1) When looking at my 2nd great grandfather’s headstone, I saw that there were also listed 3 children. I had never known that there were any other children aside from my great grandmother, Hildred. So I did some digging through old newspapers using the 3 names I had uncovered and what do you know? They really did exist and I found “cards of thanks” in the newspapers listing the deceased as well as my great grandmother and her parents.
With this knowledge, I was confidently able to add 3 more memorials to Find a Grave for my great grandmother’s siblings. I decided that it was best to include the newspaper clippings I had found online to support each memorial in case anyone would come looking. (Example: Faith Lenore Young)
(2) When looking for another 2nd great grandfather (on my mother’s father’s side of the family) I struck gold too. I found his obituary that had been published in “The Cobleskill Times” which is unfortunately not available online for review. I would otherwise never have found this obituary. The obituary confirmed several relationships I had been 80% convinced about due to censuses and other records on Ancestry.com.
Similar to Wikipedia, Find A Grave is an online database run by volunteers. And therein comes the major complaint and concern. Volunteers are human and can make huge mistakes that have rippling negative effects.
A contributor lists “Jane Doe (1800-1873)” as the daughter of “John Doe (1770-1832)” and therefore she is immediately connected to the rest of his family. But what if Jane Doe is in fact the daughter of “John Doe (1772-1832)”?
And now someone comes to Find a Grave to get family details and expects to find reliable information so they take it as fact that Jane Doe’s father is “John Doe (1770-1832)” and include that in their ancestry.com family tree.
Do you see what is going to happen next? They are going to put together a whole new family tree based on that one supposition about John Doe. And the tree goes up in smokes (figuratively).
So there you have it. Three tips to keep in mind when doing ancestral research on Find a Grave. Oh wait, one last tip — NEVER EVER accept a hint on Ancestry.com that comes from Find a Grave unless (1) you are 100% sure of the connections and (2) unless you actually click on the link to see if this person is, in fact, your ancestor.
Happy Searching! And please stay safe.