Discovering your ancestors graves can really help you to progress with your genealogy research. This Find A Grave Website Review will show you how this site can assist you and why you should consider this valuable resource.
Within this review I will not only give my opinion of the site in question but also highlight key concerns from users who have used this service.
Find A Grave
|Photos/Records||75 Million + Photos / 170 Million + Records|
|Tools & Features||Search Forms, Photos, Biographies, Transcriptions, Store, Mobile App|
|Help & Support||Q&A Section, Email, Forums, Facebook, Twitter, Video Tutorials, Send Feedback Form|
|Check It Out||Find A Grave|
|Bottom Line||Controversial But Worth Checking Out!|
If you prefer to actually visit a cemetery then my How To Find A Cemetery Grave post will be of great use to you.
I discuss what you need to consider before making your visit, what to bring and information you will learn from a memorial.
Discussed in this post:
- About Find A Grave!
- Why Use This Site
- Finding Your Ancestors Graves
- How To Contribute
- Tools & Features
- Help & Support
- Pros & Cons
- Other People’s Find A Grave Reviews
- Do I Recommend Find A Grave?
About Find A Grave!
Everybody wants to discover their ancestors for free don’t they? Well, if the rest of the family history world are like me then yep they do.
Conducting genealogy research online has never been easier as there are so many resources online.
Many of them I have already covered here. Please take a look at the Genealogy Resources & Tools section of this site.
Find A Grave is one of the free resources online that you can tap into to get the clues that you are after.
About the company
This site has been active for more than 20 years, first appearing online way back in 1995. Back then it was a site consisting of records of celebrities and their burial sites.
Jim Tipton was the creator of the site and he had a passion for visiting the graves of the rich and famous.
It wasn’t long though before it became a commercial business, where the Find A Grave was trademarked.
As the site grew so did the expansion of including graves of non-celebrities and taking it from outside the United States to the rest of the world.
And this is where the popularity of the site took off.
It could thus help the genealogist to trace their family tree.
Less than two decades after creating the site Tipton sold the Find A Grave to Ancestry. He knew that most of his traffic was coming from this genealogy search website juggernaut.
What the site offers today!
Besides containing more than 75 million photos on the site, there are also over 170 million burial records as well.
During 2017 Ancestry started to redesign the site. Since this overhaul there have been mixed reviews, so in my opinion you either love it or hate.
But with that said you shouldn’t knock it until you try it. And who knows, Find A Grave just might help you to break down a brick wall in your genealogy research.
Credit: Tyler Lentz (old version of site)
Who is this site for?
As I pointed out just before this site was initially created due to a passion of celebrities and their resting places.
So, if you are curious as to where your favorite movie star is buried then this site is for you.
And if you’re a genealogist, family historian, or the family sleuth as you maybe called then Find A Grave is definitely for you!
I probably don’t need to tell you what information that you can glean from a headstone.
- Full name of deceased
- When born, when died and when buried
- Where from
- Spouse and children details
- Who else maybe in the grave
There maybe other clues included on the tombstone that you can use to help you build your family tree.
Besides the information that you can glean from a tombstone there are also biographies that you can read as well on the person you are researching.
Although please note that this may not be the case for most people, mainly celebrities.
Why Use This Site?
One thing that I omitted to mention in the previous section was how the database of graves is collected.
A site built by volunteers!
As I have already stated this is a free online resource. And the probable reason for this is mostly due to being run by volunteers.
Without the dedicated work carried out by these individuals it probably would not have grown to what it is today.
Get more information!
Also, as more and more people become involved there is more of a chance of you finding additional photos and information about the person that you are researching.
The Find A Grave site is a collaborative effort where everyone can get involved, which is essentially the spirit of genealogy, i.e. helping each other.
If something is lacking from the person you are searching for then you can always request for someone to visit their grave.
This helpful volunteer can then take photos that you are after and provide with you extra information for your research.
Finding Your Ancestors Graves
Finding the graves of your ancestors could not be easier with this website. As soon as you arrive at the site you are greeted by a simple to understand search box where you can fill in details.
Obviously the more information that you enter then the more refined your results will be. And that means more chance of finding your ancestor.
Entering the Last Name of your ancestor is required, and you should at least enter a First Name, as well as possibly a Middle Name.
Further information such as Year Born and Year Died can also limit the results that you receive.
You set whether these dates have to be exactly correct or whether you want to find records ‘Before‘ or ‘After‘ the dates that you have entered.
Once you are happy with the information that you have provided you then just click on the ‘Search‘ box and see what results show up.
Conduct an advanced search
There are even more options for you to select from when clicking on ‘More search options‘ that appears under the search boxes.
From these additional boxes you can enter the Memorial ID if you know it. You can even select whether you want all names to appear or whether they have been entered into the collection within the last 24 hours, 7 days, 30 days or 90 days.
As well, you can order the results by name, birth date, death date or by cemetery.If you are new to this website I would suggest that you try the basic search first. You want to at least see what this
site has to offer and how to use it before jumping in and using all the features.
How To Contribute
As I mentioned earlier Find A Grave 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.
If you do intend to contribute to the site then you will need to register your name and details. I suppose this is somewhat of a screening process which tries to limit people from adding just any kind of information.
Your options include:
- Add a Memorial – Add either photos, information or both to a new person to be added to the collection of graves.
- Upload Photos – Upload more photos to an existing person in the collection.
- Transcribe Photos – Transcribe the inscription that appears on a tombstone.
- Forums – Help others with their inquiries within the site’s forum.
Becoming a new member
You don’t need to enter pages and pages of information in order to become a member of this site. There is the usual requisite of entering your First and Last Name, followed by an email address.
You can decide whether you want your email address to be displayed on your profile page or to be invisible. I quite like this because you can choose whether you want people to contact you or not.
Entering a Password is also required, which needs to be at least 8 characters long.
Then you enter your Public Name that will be displayed on your profile. If you want to remain anonymous then you just need to leave this blank.
Don’t forget the ticks!
After that there are 4 check boxes for you to tick, (or not tick).
The first 2 boxes are your choice where you can agree to be sent emails and have your photo displayed on your profile.
The second 2 boxes are mandatory for you to click on.
The first of these is just a requirement saying that you agree to the Terms of service and the Privacy statement. Links to these two pages can be accessed at any time at the bottom of the site.
And the very last one is just to show that you are not a robot.
Once you have completed the form then you are a full free member to the site.
Tools & Features
Besides contributing to the site there are other tools and features that you can benefit from.
To help keep the Find A Grave website running you can buy a variety of items from the Store. This store is not really hosted on this site, you will be sent to an external site, Cafepress.
The abundance of items here are mainly T-Shirts for men and women, as well as sweatshirts.
There are other items that you can buy, such as mugs, mouse pads, stickers, sports bottles, caps, and more besides.
To help your research and enable you to be on the move rather than stuck to your computer at home there is a Find A Grave Mobile App that you can download and use, (for iPhones and Android).
Features of the app:
- Find Family Graves – Find your ancestor or someone famous and see where they are buried.
- Contribute Photos – Help others with their research and take photos of tombstones and cemeteries.
- Create Memorials – Add a memorial for someone.
- Request Headstone Photos – Where you can request photos.
- Share Discoveries – Share information through Facebook or email.
- Add GPS – Mark on a map locations of cemeteries.
New Look Site
The site has received a recent makeover which has received mixed reviews from its regular users. The changes were needed for a number of reasons
- More secure and usable for users.
- Improve performance and speed of site.
- Support new devices and other languages, (besides English)
You can send your feedback on the new-look by clicking on the link that appears on the bottom right of the screen.
If you do not fancy this change then you can click on a link at the top of the page that will take you back to the old site.
I quite like that Find A Grave have taken these two initiatives in order to not lose its users.
Help & Support
When you click on the Help option on the menu you are presented with a variety of questions, all categorized into 15 different sections.
I like how all of your possible questions answered but wished that they had created categories and subcategories so that you could find what you were looking for easier.
- Contact Us – Find out who to email with your query or suggestion.
- Account Settings – How to change your password and make your email address not public.
- Cemeteries – How to add a cemetery, download information, make corrections and more.
- Creating Memorials – How to create and set up a memorial for someone.
- Editing Memorials – How to make any correction or delete a memorial.
- Famous Memorials – Discover how this section is managed and what exactly contributes to the status of being famous.
- Favorite Cemeteries – Just what is this section of the site and how to manage it.
- Flowers – Discover how you can leave a virtual flower at a memorial.
- Membership Help – Find out how to join the site and every sort of question relating to membership.
- Photo Requests – How you can request photos for a memorial.
- Sponsoring Memorials – Memorials have ads, so to remove these you can sponsor a memorial ($5 USD).
- Transcribing Photos – Learn the process of transcribing photos of tombstones.
- Transferring Memorials – Transfer a memorial that you are managing to someone else.
- Virtual Cemeteries – This is a collection of memorials that you have collected together.
- Working with Photos – All your photos queries are answered here.
It’s great that there are so many questions answered within the Help section of the site. But finding out who to contact for support is not so obvious.
A Contact page would have been better. Although this is a very minor grumble of the site.
If your answer is answered with the Help section of the site and you feel that a member could help you then you can always check out the Forums. Please note that staff can help you in this section as well.
The Forums are broken down into a number of categories and subcategories, which helps you find where you need to go quickly.
In order to access the Forums you will need to register your details. There is no free access to guests.
- Find A Grave Q&A – Get support on how to do anything on the site, or report an issue.
- Corrections, Challenges and Statistics – Find out what has been corrected on the site, questions from members and site statistics.
- Social Discussion – Discuss any recent news concerning anyone who has recently passed away.
- Military Discussion – Discussion relating to anything concerning war.
- Cemetery and Research – Learn how to preserve cemeteries and how to research cemetery records.
- Classic Find A Grave Archives – The classic section of the Forums.
A link is provided at the bottom of your screen where you can currently access 29 video tutorials.
These short and simple how-to guides show you the process of managing your account and updating memorials on the site.
Right next to the Tutorials link is the option to Send Feedback. This is a great way for you to get involved and to improve the site. So, I quite like that this option is very visible to the user.
Pros & Cons
✔ 75 million + photos
✔ 170 Million + burial records
✔ Continually adding new and updated content
✔ Free to use
✔ Mobile App to take research on the go
✔ Plenty of help and support
❌ Added cost to sponsor a memorial to remove ads from memorials
❌ May find mistakes with information
❌ New look site may not please everyone
Other People’s Find A Grave Reviews
By now you are probably thinking how great the Find A Grave website is and how it can help you with your genealogy research.
Rather than give you a one-sided view I want to highlight some reviews from people who have used the site. You can personally check out these user reviews by clicking on the following link.
Don’t like the new-look site!
Most complaints that I have seen regarding this site is that many do not like the recent update. On checking the old site, (link provided on Find A Grave), the home page is very cluttered.
In my opinion the updated site makes your job of navigating and finding what you are looking for much easier. But it seems to be the case of being comfortable with the old design for so long.
There is though the point that the new site does load slower than the original and there are more processes involved with the new set up.
Do not like advertisements/pop-ups on the site!
There are plenty of ads and pop-ups on the site which I can see how they are annoying. However, the site does need to keep running, (for the sake of genealogists), and revenue like this does work for them.
Several users feel though that some ads featuring on the site are inappropriate.
You can pay $5 to remove ads but this is for only one memorial. With many for you to research this cost can surely add up fast.
Complaints against unwanted photos taken of tombstones!
There have been complaints by relatives of the deceased who do not wish a tombstone to be photographed and to appear online.
I can agree with this complaint. Whether the volunteer who is taking the photos feels that they should document everything within a cemetery I do not know.
I do feel though that only tombstones that have been requested to be photographed to be put online.
Unfortunately that still does not rule out someone objects to a certain uploaded memorial. This seems to be a gray area indeed.
Deleting memorials without warning!
There have been a number of complaints where people’s hard work of research and uploading have been deleted from the site.
If there are duplicated content then they will be removed. However, it seems that there is some rivalry between people who challenge themselves to photograph every single memorial in a cemetery.
This practice is not very healthy and should not be encouraged within the hobby of genealogy.
Do I Recommend Find A Grave?
There is certainly a lot of benefits that can be gained from using this site. Two immediately come to mind.
Not only do you get valuable information regarding your ancestors that you can put into your family tree but you could break down a brick wall in your research with what you find.
This site though is definitely hit-and-miss as it is not certain that you will indeed find your ancestor. But you do not know until you look.
And it is a free site after all, so what do you have to lose.
Also, on top of this new information is being added all the time so if you do not find what you are looking for now then you can always try again at a later date.
There are a number of negatives with this site, (which I have covered in the previous section), and if you are prepared to ‘overlook’ them then this site does have the potential to be of use.
Do I recommend Find A Grave?
Yes, I definitely do recommend Find A Grave, but do not be despaired if you do not find what you are looking for.
You could though try searching Ancestry which is the world’s most popular genealogy search website. So, there is a greater chance of discovering your ancestors with this main competitor.
If you decide to check out 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 Find A Grave Website Review. If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below.
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