Find A Grave Contributors Answer More Questions

In December I posed three questions to Find A Grave contributors whose virtual preservation work I admire:

  1. How did you discover Find A Grave?
  2. What motivates you to contribute?
  3. What is your favorite way to contribute (i.e. photos, vital information, obits etc.)?

Answers to those first three questions are posted here.

In January I asked three more questions:2016 01-01 Find A Grave 2

  1. On average, how much time per week do you devote to Find A Grave-related activities?
  2. What do your family/friends/co-workers think of your passion for Find A Grave?
  3. Have you ever been approached (or reproached) by someone while taking photos in a cemetery? What happened?

IMHO, I believe the use of Find A Grave ebbs and flows, the same way genealogy research does. We get completely hooked and work into the wee hours of the night for weeks [or months!] at a time. Then something interferes (poor weather, work demands, health issues, family commitments etc.) and “hobbies” get pushed to the background.

In the case of Find A Grave however, pulls to return are everywhere. I don’t know about you, but I find it very difficult to drive past a cemetery without wondering if the residents have been memorialized!

But I digress, let’s get to the comments shared by other contributors!

Question # 1: On average, how much time per week do you devote to Find A Grave-related activities?

Answers to this question ranged from ‘an hour or two a week’ to ‘several hours a day’.

One of my favorite responses was; “If I was to be honest and give you the real answer, you would tell me I am obsessed and to get a life. Let’s just say I am very dedicated.”

Me too.

Like several other Midwesterners in my survey, I take photos when the weather permits and edit/upload those photos when bad weather keeps me indoors. This means I can pretty much get a daily Find A Grave fix year round.

Despite our current bad weather, I have to admit I recently stopped by my favorite local cemetery.

Where I learned I’m not the only one waiting for spring.


Question # 2: What do your family/friends/co-workers think of your passion for Find A Grave?

Answers included, ‘They think I am crazy’. ‘Off my rocker.’ ‘It varies; surprise and/or appreciation.’

‘My family thinks I am bonkers. My friends are more relaxed – had me make sure that their loved ones have a memorial.’

‘Once I explain my graving and why I do it, they usually find it very interesting. When my co-workers find out, they usually want me to hunt down graves for them.’

As for me, I’m lucky that my husband is also a Find A Grave aficionado.

And I’m pretty much used to the head-tip response from new friends and co-workers.

2016 02-05 Find A Grave huh

Question # 3: Have you ever been approached (or reproached) by someone while taking photos in a cemetery? What happened?

Most of the respondents said it’s unusual to see anyone else about while they’re taking headstone pictures. On the rare occasion someone notices them, the response tends to be curiosity, not reproach.

The overwhelming majority of headstone photographers also mentioned relocating when they saw visiting loved ones at the cemeteries in which they were taking pictures.

I agree; we need to keep a respectful distance from those grieving the loss of a loved one. We can provide comfort to virtual cemetery visitors without compromising the feelings of physical visitors.

During my last visit to Evanston Illinois I encountered another Find A Grave contributor at Calvary Cemetery who was filling a photo request. That was the first time ever that I had run into someone doing what I was doing and I’ve been at this for more than seven years! 

Most of the initial survey respondents said headstone photography is their favorite way to contribute to Find A Grave. 

Which brings me to the next three questions for my Find A Grave series:

  1. What equipment [photographic and otherwise] do you use to take headstone pictures?
  2. Do you have a personal policy regarding the use of the photos you take?
  3. In what ways have you evolved as a headstone/cemetery photographer since you first joined Find A Grave?

Many many thanks to everyone who contributed to this second in a series of posts about Find A Grave. Your time and your thoughtful answers are very much appreciated!

The invitation to participate in future posts in this series is open to everyone, so please share your thoughts! Send your answers to the questions above via email to where 2 look 4 ancestors AT gmail DOT com, with no spaces, and punctuation symbols for AT and DOT.

2 thoughts on “Find A Grave Contributors Answer More Questions

  1. Laura,

    I’m not a contributor to Find-A-Grave, but I am a BIG user of this service, so I have some comments on what I find the most useful in people’s posts.

    1. Names and dates for the individual.

    2. Photos of the tombstone, including the whole thing, not just the part that shows one person’s data if more than one person is memorialized on the stone. This helps to show relationships. Clusters of related tombstones are very helpful too.

    3. An obit. This is incredibly useful, especially for common names over similar time frames in large cemeteries. For instance, I’m trying to trace several people named Anna or Annie Johnson who lived in Everett, Snohomish Co. Washington between 1910 and 1920. I don’t know birth or death dates, but I do know their children’s info. So an obit would be immensely helpful.

    4. “Calculated” relationships. For another family, named Harrison, in the same town, a Find-A-Grave listing that showed an entire large family’s calculated relationships. I could tell right away that this wasn’t my family. So when I checked city directories, I could cross off all the names shown in this particular list.

    But even just a name, with a death date, can be more info than I had before, and help lead to official death info. And that can lead to official birth data. I’m not physically capable of taking cemetery photos, so I am very appreciative of those, like you, who spend your time taking pictures and putting them up on the site.

    Doris Seattle


    • Doris,

      Great comment; thank you for sharing your thoughts about Find A Grave! As you pointed out, the memorials posted there can be a treasure trove of genealogical information. It’s a good reminder for all of us to periodically review the surnames in our family trees. Additions and corrections take place often; one never knows what new tidbits may be found.

      And those photos of headstones you mentioned? That’s just one way to contribute to the wealth of information on Find A Grave. Creating memorials for those in your family tree, transcribing those oh-so-helpful obituaries from extant newspapers, and/or submitting edits to improve existing memorials are other options.

      I find the ways people contribute to Find A Grave and the reasons they have for doing so very interesting. It was equally interesting to read how helpful those contributions can be!


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