Geni and BillionGraves: Digitally Preserving the World’s Cemeteries Together
We’re excited to announce that Geni has teamed up with BillionGraves to launch a global crowdsourcing initiative to digitally preserve the world’s cemeteries.
In the world of genealogy, gravestones play an important role in telling us information about our ancestors. They can not only provide the name, birth and death date of the deceased, but also the names of close relatives. Epitaphs often provide insight into the person’s life, and may include a brief description of their personality or character. However, gravestones in thousands of cemeteries worldwide have never been documented nor has their information been made available or searchable online. And time is not on our side. Age, and exposure to the elements, means that what is written on the stone eventually fades, making it harder, and sometimes impossible to see who is buried there.
Today we have the necessary tools to make it our generation’s mission to preserve these headstones and store their valuable information online for the future.
BillionGraves is a one-of-a-kind application (available for both iOS and Android) which uses patent-pending technology to enable users to photograph and document gravestones. With the help of MyHeritage, our parent company, the app will be available in 25 languages, and support Gregorian, Hebrew and Julian dates. It records the GPS locations of gravestones to make them easy to find and volunteers can easily see which areas of any cemetery remain undocumented, to maximize efficiency and avoid duplication. The gravestone photographs are then transcribed by volunteers on the BillionGraves website, resulting in searchable digital data.
The easy-to-use BillionGraves app (click to zoom)
In just two years, BillionGraves has already amassed millions of headstone records, uploaded by 70,000 volunteers.
A gravestone picture collected through the BillionGraves app (click to zoom)
Starting immediately, we’ll be reaching out to the Geni community and encouraging them to join us in using BillionGraves to preserve and document gravestones worldwide for future generations. The records will be available for free on BillionGrave’s website, and SuperSearch™, MyHeritage’s search engine for historical records. These records can be easily accessed through the “Research this Person” link found on your Geni profiles. Each record will contain photographs of the gravestone, GPS coordinates and an index of corresponding information.
A mapped out gravestone record on the BillionGraves app (click to zoom)
Thanks to MyHeritage’s powerful matching technology, you will automatically be notified of Record Matches whenever these new cemetery records match your relatives’ Geni profiles, saving you a lot of valuable time in your family history research. Simply navigate to your Merge Center to view all the Record Matches found for your tree. Or click on the Record Match icon on your relatives’ profiles to see what new cemetery records have been matched to your tree.
We at Geni have always been committed to creating the definitive family tree of the world to preserve the world’s family legacy for future generations. This global initiative is another great way for Geni users to contribute to the future of family history research, and to help preserve their own family legacies, as well as the legacies of others. We’ll be posting more details soon about how you can participate in this global endeavor and help preserve the information today for generations to come.