Find-A-Grave – It’s Fun and It’s Free is one of my favorite research locations.

Jim Tipton created the Find A Grave website in 1995 because he could not find an existing site that catered to his hobby of visiting the graves of famous people. Sixteen years later, Find A Grave not only list the locations of famous people, but contains nearly 950,000 memorials to the non-famous as well.  

The contributors are people who put in a few records and photographs at a time, or those who inventory an entire cemetery, with or without photos.  I remember how excited I was when I first saw a photograph of my ancestor Jonathan Hodges, and I think Find A Grave is a great way to help people virtually visit the burial places of their family, when they cannot make the trip in person.  So on a trip to Nova Scotia, my friend and I photographed each headstone and transcribed all the inscriptions at the old Morristown Baptist Cemetery.   I’m interested in doing a couple more, like Greensboro NH and South Barton VT.  The website also has a function where you can type in your zip code, and see if anyone has requested cemetery photos from your neighborhood.  It can be a nice outing (or a stop on a longer trip) to look for the headstone and snap a photo for someone who wouldn’t otherwise be able to see it.

A new feature in the last few years the addition of family relationship links. If the contributor has put in a group of family members, she can link them so that the children and spouse are listed on the main memorial page, and a simple mouse click will take the visitor to the other family member.  If a contributor wants to link his family to a family contributed by someone else, all he has to do is e-mail the contributor of the other family and let them know the memorial number.  Clicking on the links is much faster than doing a search on each individual name, although if there are not family members listed, a researcher should do a search for the name in case they haven’t been linked.

Are you ready to look for some Laber, Hodges, Hintz, or Jones family names?  Steve and I both maintain “virtual cemeteries” which is a collection of Find A Grave memorial pages which are family members, whether or not we were the contributor.  I don’t know how to search for a contributor, so here’s the tip for finding our collection: 

To find my virtual cemeteries, go to  On the right column, the not so famous people, click on Search.  Search for Frank Laber, and you’ll find Frank Danforth Laber.  Click on his memorial page, and after you have perused it, look towards the bottom for the name of the contributor – Sooze.  Click on that, then click on my virtual cemetery list.  Click on the name of interest, and you will see all the Find A Grave memorials of interest to me.  If you’d like to see Steve’s collection, go back to the basic search, and look for Charles Tourville.  You’ll find Charles J Tourville in Colorado.  Bring up his memorial page, then look for the name of the contributor.  That will give you the list in Steve’s collection.

By looking at the contributor, and the list of names he or she has, you can probably figure out if this person’s collection is his family, or if perhaps he just decided to inventory a cemetery.  If a researcher thinks that the contributor has been posting family members, it could be worth an e-mail to see if you’ve discovered a long-lost cousin with lots of information to exchange.


1 Comment

  1. Evelyn Laber said,

    January 9, 2011 at 18:36

    Interesting that his father was”deaf and dumb” and yet a church deacon.

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