The Find A Grave website was started in 1995 by Jim Tipton who wanted to create a website database in order to share his hobby of visiting famous graves with others. As the project grew, it came to include normal, non-famous people from around the world. Now it serves as an indispensable aid to genealogists and those looking to honor their ancestors and kin.
There are a number of things that Find A Grave can help you learn about, including:
1) Where the grave of a particular person is located.
2) When the person was born and when the person died.
3) Where the person was born and died.
4) Relatives of the person being researched.
5) Various life or death information, as found in an obituary or death certificate.
6) What the person looked like, through the posting of portraits on their page.
Searching for someone is easy. From http://www.findagrave.com select “Search 60 million grave records” or from within the pages of the site, select “Begin New Search” from the top of the menu on the left hand side of the page.
When searching be ready to try a variety of things, being as specific as possible to narrow down your results. Often, a name, birth OR death year and location will be enough when results are too many to look though. When it comes to people who went by multiple names, be sure to try fuller more formal versions of their name first, and then try Americanized, or shortened versions. Though you can utilize the check box to include a maiden name in the search (maiden names are always shown in italics), not all profiles and graves have the maiden names of women on them, so you may need to know their married name.
In searching, please remember that this is not a complete database of all people who have ever lived or been buried in the United States. While the site is constantly growing, it will likely not have detailed entries for everyone you are searching for. Thankfully, members can create and edit their own pages and even communicate with other members in order to share genealogical information and research.
In fact, one tool that I have used a few times lately is the “Request a Photo” tool. For instance, if you visit a page for a person and there is cemetery information listed, but no image of their grave, click on the “Request a Photo” button.
By clicking on this button, a notification will be sent to designated grave photographing volunteers within a certain distance of the cemetery in which the requested person is buried. When someone posts an image to fulfill your request, you will be notified and you may visit the person’s page to see the new image.
Becoming a photo volunteer is easy and you will only take the requests that you have time for. To sign up to do this, create an account and select the check box that says “I would like to be a photo volunteer.” You can always go back to your profile, and select “Edit My Profile” to select or de-select this option later.
I was very glad to have found this website and hope to continue to contribute more as I begin to travel and research even more. This is a very simple and straightforward website that is worth your time, especially if you are researching people who died in the United States (other countries are not well represented as of yet).