The graves of our ancestors are a goldmine of information for the genealogist. This Billion Graves Review will show you exactly what this site has to offer. So, if you want to break down any brick walls in your research then this review is for you.
This review will not only cover what you can expect from this site, but also contain my own personal opinion of this site.
But not to sound biased I have also included various reviews from customers who have used this site.
Billion Graves Rating and Details
|Free?||Free to search|
|Subscription||Billion Graves Plus package
|Records||Up to 1 Billion|
|Tools & Features||Search Form, Links to external records, App (iOS and Android), Search and Transcribe Photos, Share With Friends|
|Features of Billion Graves Plus||Family Plots, Nearby Graves, Global Family, Family Notify, Priority Support and Partner Discounts|
|Help & Support||Helpdesk, FAQs, Community Forums, Video Tutorials, Online Form, Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus|
|Check It Out
|Bottom Line||Huge Potential With This Site!|
You can use the Billion Graves website if you like the simplicity of just jumping on the computer and looking for your ancestors.
But if you are the outside type of person then my How To Find A Cemetery Grave post will be most helpful to you.
The post will show you what considerations you need to make before visiting a cemetery, what to bring and what can you expect to learn from your visit to a cemetery.
Discussed in this post:
- About Billion Graves
- Find Their Graves
- A Grave Record Result
- How To Contribute
- Free or Not To Be Free
- Help & Support
- Pros & Cons
- Other People’s Billion Graves Reviews
- Do I Recommend Billion Graves?
About Billion Graves
Finding information about your ancestors for free is possible. You can check out my Free Genealogy section which proves it.
Anyway, you are probably here because you have discovered Billion Graves, (a free genealogy resource), and want to know more about it.
Well, you have come to the right place.
The following video will be of interest to you. Here expert genealogist Lisa Louise Cooke talks to Hudson Gunn of Billion Graves.
Credit: Lisa Louise Cooke
About the company
As the name of the site suggests there are many graves that you will find on this genealogy search website.
I found over 14,000 headstones featuring my family surname “Couch“, with results coming from all over the United States, as well as from Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and even France.
I’ll talk more about searching for your ancestors later in this review.
Goal of the site!
Despite not knowing just how many graves have been photographed so far you can obviously surmise that their goal is to have 1 billion tombstones in their collection.
I would expect that even if they achieve this goal that they won’t stop at this number.
Incidentally Find A Grave currently state that they have over 170 million memorials in their collection.
This is a great resource for any genealogist or family historian, and the more that they can offer you then the better.
As stated on their website their goal is to:
Preserve precious records found in cemeteries throughout the world.
How is all this possible?
With help from you!
This is a global effort with volunteers taking photographs of graves from all over the world and noting the GPS coordinates of each grave.
I have just shown you that not only are there graves within the U.S. featuring my surname but also 5 other countries besides.
I’m sure if I would dig a little further in the results that I would find other countries as well.
You can do your bit for the wider genealogy community in 2 ways:
- Take Photos – Using an app take pictures of graves and upload them to Billion Graves.
- Transcribe Photos – Transcribe the information that’s found on these tombstones.
I’ll explain more about how you can help later in this review.
Who is this site for?
This site as I mentioned earlier can help both the genealogist and the family historian with their research.
With the aid of these photos you can go further with your research. They can help you break down any brick walls in your research.
But what can you glean from a tombstone you are probably wondering.
Well, quite a lot really.
- Full name of deceased
- When the were born, when the died and when they were buried
- Where they were originally from
- Spouse and children details, such as names
- Who else maybe in the grave
Besides the above information there may be other details that you can uncover about your ancestor.
All of this CAN help you to progress with your research.
Although I must point out that this is ONLY IF your ancestors’ graves have been photographed. Please do not lose hope if this is the case as photos are being uploaded all the time.
So, there’s always the possibility that your ancestor will be included in the collection some day.
You need to remember that this is a mammoth task and it does take time to build up the database of photographs.
But with 100,000s of people helping and YOU that we can all help each other.
Find Their Graves
Searching for your ancestors’ graves could not be any easier. As soon as you land on the home page of the site you are met with a search box for you to discover your ancestors.
There are 2 pieces of information that you can enter in the search form.
There is your ancestor’s First Name, (which is optional), and their Last Name as well.
Obviously entering their first name will help you to limit the number of results that you will receive.
Once you have entered these details you just click on the ‘Start your search‘ button.
As you can see from the picture below just by searching for my surname “Couch” provided over 14,000 results.
You are presented with 15 graves per page. Just the sheer number of results would take you a long time for you to sift through.
Luckily for you you don’t need to as you can refine your search using the filters present on the left side of the page.
Refine your search
Let’s take a look at the options that are available to you.
From this option you can limit the results by selecting:
- Headstone (GPS)
- Any Supporting Records
- Burial Record
- Death Certificate
- Headstone (Supporting)
- Historic Record
- Social Security Death Index
And there is an other option as well, although I’m not sure as to what this suggests.
As I pointed out earlier by entering a first name can reduce the number of results returned.
I just entered “John” into this field and cut the results down from 14,096 down to 397.
Obviously that is much more manageable number to work with but I can cut down that number even more.
From here you can enter your ancestor’s birth and death years, (if of course you know them).
But don’t be disappointed if you do know them as you can select a tolerance for a year you enter. This can be anything from 0 up to 10 years either side of the year you enter.
Limit the results even more by entering the Country, State, and County.
Select boxes whether you want an Exact Match and/or results filtered by Phonetic, (i.e. if you are not sure how the name is spelt).
A Grave Record Result
There is a lot of information that you can receive from a record found on this site. But as well as that you can also edit or add any information that you can supply.
You will though need to be a registered user of the site in order to do this.
Each record is broken down into 9 different sections.
1. Life Information
Here you will find a transcription of the headstone with the following information.
- Birth Date
- Marriage Date
- Death Date
- Cemetery Name (with link to other records for that cemetery)
- Headstone Description
- Photographer (i.e. who took the photo and when)
- Transcriber (who transcribed the photo and when)
2. Nearby Graves
By upgrading to Billion Graves Plus you can get further information such as other family members who are buried nearby, or even in another country.
This is a great way for you to uncover any relative that you may not even be aware of.
There are other benefits of the Billion Graves Plus program, such as:
- Family Notify – Get notified of any new records with the same search results as yours.
- Priority Support – Jump ahead of the queue and get help immediately from the staff at Billion Graves.
- Partner Discounts – Discounts to MyHeritage, AncestorCloud and GPS Origins DNA if you join.
More on this program later.
3. Grave Site
Get information as to whether there are Nearby Records that can help your research. Although you will need to join the Plus program to see these records.
Also, within this section the Cemetery Name and Cemetery Address is given as well.
4. Find more about John …
The name at the end of this section will obviously be different depending on what first name that you have entered.
But regardless of that you can get linked to birth, marriage and death records bearing your ancestor’s name.
And besides that census records as well.
You can click through to MyHeritage in order to view snippets of these records. But to view the full record and image you will need to be a paid member of this genealogy site.
Get further information as to other relatives that are also included on the tombstone.
6. Mark as Famous
If you know that the selected grave record contains someone famous then you can link that record to a Wikipedia URL.
7. Other Sources
If you are a registered user then you can see from here all other records bearing your ancestor’s name.
Read memories of the person you have searched for, (if there are any), that have been shared by other members of the site.
Or you can share your memories if you wish.
9. Military Service
If the person that you have searched for served in the military then any relevant information will be included in this section.
How To Contribute
Billion Graves is a website that has grown immensely due to the phenomenal support from volunteers all over the world.
There are 100,000s of volunteers who have helped shape what Billion Graves has become today.
You can also help your fellow family historian in one of two ways.
1. Take Photos
In order for you to contribute to the Billion Graves website you will need a smartphone with their app installed.
Just search for “Billiongraves” on your phone and install the app.
Once you are at a cemetery and at a grave that you want to take a picture or pictures of just open the app.
Then just take a photo and upload to the site. You can transcribe it later or someone else can do that for you.
A few considerations:
- Do not include your feet in the shot.
- Try not to include your shadow.
- Make sure that the headstone is readable for the transcriber to type up the details on the stone.
2. Transcribe Photos
If you cannot get to a cemetery or you do not have a smartphone then you can always help the site.
You can visit the Transcription page of the site and start transcribing the photos that you find there.
From here you can enter names, dates and any other information that is included on a headstone.
From the link that I have just provided you can get further help on how to transcribe photos on the site.
As I mentioned earlier Billion Graves is a community-based website, it relies on the contributions that are made by the volunteers who have shaped what this site is today.
There are a number of options for YOU to get involved and help others progress with their genealogy research.
Becoming a new member
In order to contribute to the site you WILL need to register your details. You can register by 2 methods.
1. Login With Facebook
Are you already on Facebook?
If yes then you can easily log into Billion Graves by clicking on the ‘LOGIN WITH FACEBOOK‘ button at the top of the page.
When you click on this option a new window will open up. From here you accept whether Billion Graves can receive your public profile and email address.
If you do not wish to continue then you can easily click on the ‘Cancel‘ button at the base of the page. Or, just close the window.
If you happy to accept this condition though you can simply click on the ‘Continue as YOUR NAME HERE‘ button.
2. Register and Login
The second option available to you is to click on the ‘LOG-IN‘ that is to the right of the Facebook login button.
Clicking on this option will bring up a small form where you can enter your email address and password.
When registering you will need to re-enter your password.
When you have filled in these fields just click on the ‘Submit‘ button.
Once you have done that then you are free to use the site and it’s features.
Free or Not To Be Free
Obviously everyone likes free but there are some great benefits that you can expect if you were to join the Billion Graves Plus program.
Let’s just look at what you can get from the site as a registered free member.
- View all headstone and cemetery records
- Upload photos and cemetery records
- Photo requests
- Transcribe photos
- Cemetery events
- Edit existing records
- Sync records with partners
- Collaborate with friends.
Billion Graves Plus Program
I’ve already covered earlier what you can expect if you decide to join the Billion Graves Plus program.
But let’s have a recap:
- Family Plots – Discover family members that share the same plot.
- Nearby Graves – Records of relatives with different last name.
- Global Family – Discover your global ancestors.
- Family Notify – Notified of new relevant records
- Priority Support – Immediate support for your queries.
- Partner Discounts – Discounts to partner programs.
That’s quite an impressive list of benefits that you can receive if you were to sign up to this program.
The added bonus of becoming a Billion Graves Plus member is that you do not see those annoying ads on the site.
But how much does it cost you?
You can decide whether you want to join this program on a:
- Annual – $59.99 USD ($5.00/Month), or
- Monthly – $9.99 USD
The Annual package will give you a massive 67% discount compared to if you were to stick with the Monthly package for 12 months.
I would suggest to you that if you are not sure about the program, or you don’t expect to be using the site for long to opt for the Monthly package.
If you decide that the Annual package is for you at any time then you can always join it.
Get Plus for free!
There is a way that you can actually join this program for free.
It will though require a lot of work from you though.
In order for this to happen you will need to upload 2,500+ photographs, or complete 500+ transcriptions in one month to receive one month of Plus for free.
I would have to say that if you intend to take this route that you have plenty of free time on your hands.
I cannot expect anyone really to complete either of these tasks in a single and be able to find the time to do their own research as well.
Although maybe you can build up credit in advance. I am not sure.
Help & Support
You do not need to worry if you need help and support while using the Billion Graves website or App.
There are a number of ways to get the help that you require.
The Helpdesk, (or Knowledge base), contains 4 sub sections containing many queries that have been submitted to the site.
- Research – Learn how to research your ancestors, use the site and what all the features are of Billion Graves Plus.
- Volunteer – Learn how you can help build the collection of grave photos.
- Account – Find out about subscription and payments, your profile and registering to the site.
- How To’s – Video showing you what is Billion Graves all about.
Common questions are broken down into 4 different categories.
- General Questions
- Questions about Taking Pictures
- Questions about Transcribing for Billion Graves
- Technical Questions
If you cannot find the answer with the FAQs section then you can always check out the Community Forums.
To make it easier to find what you are looking for the forum is broken down into 7 sub-forums.
- Announcements – A welcome message from Billion Graves to all new members.
- Tips & Tricks – Get inside techniques on how best to use Billion Graves.
- Volunteer – Can highlight your volunteer projects that you have carried out and have set yourself.
- Research – Get help with your genealogy research from members.
- Feature Requests – Request future updates to the site and App.
- Bug Reports – Report any problems with the site and App.
- Other – Another other queries.
Videos are a great way to get the knowledge that you need.
There are videos on the site that will:
- Introduce you to Billion Graves
- Show you how to take photos
- Show you how to transcribe photos
- Learn the benefits of Billion Graves Plus
- Plenty of How-To videos as well.
If you are still struggling for answers then you can easily use the Online Form to submit your query.
You can do this by clicking on the Contact Us option found at the bottom of the site.
You will need to enter the following information:
- Requester – Your email address
- Subject – Type in short header for your query
- Type – Whether it is a Question, Bug, Feature Request, Subscription or Task
- Type of Device – PC, Mac, IOS, Android, Not Listed
- Description – Enter your query here.
You can also attach a file to your message as well.
Billion Graves can also be found on 3 social media platforms. These are Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.
From these accounts you can get all the latest news and reports from this genealogy website.
Pros & Cons
✔ Up to 1 Billion Graves
✔ Continually adding new graves
✔ Free to search
✔ Plenty of help and support
✔ You can upload photos and transcribe
❌ Ads on site, but not distracting
❌ Mainly for American residents
Other People’s Billion Graves Reviews
I have already covered in this review a lot of what you can expect from this website. And also how you too can help the genealogy community.
So far I have only given my own favorable opinion of this site.
In order to not sound too biased I would like to share with you a customer review site so that you can see what other people are saying about Billion Graves.
Customer reviews seen on SiteJabber either strongly favored this genealogy website or strongly disliked them.
There were 7 people who gave the site 5 stars compared to 13 people who gave it only 1 star.
The favorable reviews were really pleased with their experience of using the site and finding the information that they were looking for.
On the other end of the scale were complaints such as …
Cannot cancel subscription!
Several customers complained that they could not cancel their subscription. Unfortunately for these people they claimed that they could not get hold of support about canceling.
Now I won’t say that this is the case for everybody who wished to cancel. Only because you don’t see positive comments about people canceling services do you?
Am I right?
But please check the site for free before you sign up to the Plus program and hand over your credit card details.
Cannot find what I am looking for!
Another common complaint is that there was no records for the person that was being searched for.
Bearing in mind that this is a continual project that will no doubt take many years to complete I am not surprised that this is the case.
If you do not find what you are looking for then you will need to give time.
You could though always request for someone to take photographs from a particular cemetery for you.
It is no doubt that there will be errors with any kind of transcription.
As the saying goes. “To err is human“.
No doubt there will be the occasional errors. If you do stumble upon an error then there is the option to edit a record.
Do I Recommend Billion Graves?
I have covered a lot of features and reasons why this genealogy search website is worth looking at.
You can get plenty of valuable information from a tombstone as I have already mentioned.
Not only can you take something away from this site, but you can give back as well, (like I have done with creating this website to help others).
With any genealogy site though you may not find what you were looking for.
But that is no reason to stop using the site.
You can always download the app, start visiting cemeteries and do your bit for the genealogy community.
I have had plenty of help along the way as I traced my own family history. And I intend using the app and helping others.
So, do I recommend Billion Graves?
Yes, I definitely do recommend Billion Graves.
If though you do not feel that this site is for you then you can always check out the world’s number one genealogy site.
And that is of course Ancestry.
If you decide to subscribe to this genealogy site then please come back and let me know what you think of it. I would love to hear how it is working for you.
Thank You and Please Leave A Comment
I hope you enjoyed this post giving my Billion Graves Review. If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below.
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