Frequently Asked Questions

    General Questions

  • Why

    When we started digging into tracking our ancestors, we discovered that there are some records you just can't access unless you can visit them in person—records like headstones. We want headstone records to be available to everyone, whether they have the means to travel or not. But it's not something we can do alone.

    With your help, we can create a database that includes your local cemeteries, our local cemeteries, and cemeteries worldwide. Every cemetery is local to someone! And if we all work together, we'll put at least a billion graves at the fingertips of descendants around the world.

    Watch a short introduction video

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  • Is this site free to use?

    Absolutely. Making people pay to access records submitted by volunteer contributors just isn't right and we would never do it. Keep in mind, you will have to sign up for an account to upload pictures and transcribe them, but that is also free.

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  • What is BillionGraves Plus?

    For all you die‐hard BillionGravers out there, we offer additional features at a ridiculously low price. These features offer you additional assistance in your research.

    Watch this video for more details about BillionGraves Plus Features

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  • I want to help, but I don't have a smartphone. Can I still participate?

    Of course you can! We have records pouring in by the thousands every single day and we need your help to transcribe them! Simply log-in and click on the "Transcribe" tab to get started.

    For more details on how to transcribe, watch this video

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  • What if I can't find my ancestor's record on BillionGraves?

    If you can't find your ancestor's record, make sure you narrow and broaden your search (i.e. search by the cemetery they are buried in, search by just the last name and/or search by all the information you have on them, etc.).

    If you still can't find it, it probably means that either that person's headstone record hasn't been transcribed or the headstone photo hasn't been collected yet. Simply submit a request for that cemetery so our BillionGraves volunteers in that area will be notified of it and can take that picture for you!

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  • How do I submit a request?

    Answer is coming soon

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  • For people who would rather not have their family's records on line, what do you do?

    We respect the feelings of immediate family members of the deceased who are not comfortable with their family's record being online. If they would rather not have the image on our website, they can email with the URL (ex. of the record and their relation to the person and we will review the request. All requests are reviewed within 72 hours; however, it may take up to 30 days for external search engines to reflect any changes.

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  • How do I edit my personal information on my account?

    You can change your email address,location,or password by following these steps.

    1. Login on the Website.
    2. On your dashboard click the icon that looks like a gear.
    3. Update your location, email, and password.
    4. Click update.
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        Questions about Taking Pictures

      2. How do I take pictures from the app?

        Simply open the app (and login if you haven't already) and tap on the "Take Pictures" button. For more details on how to do so, watch this video

        For some more detailed tips on how to get great photos that will be very helpful for genealogists needing these records, read this blog post

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      3. How do I know it's okay to take pictures at a certain cemetery?

        We recommend that before you take any photos that you first talk to the cemetery sexton/caretaker/overseer. Most public cemeteries allow and even encourage picture taking, but asking permission first will avoid any problems that may come up. Creating a positive relationship with the cemetery caretakers is always encouraged as often times they will even help in your photo taking efforts!

        IMPORTANT: Regulations may vary by cemetery, city, state, or even country. If ever in doubt, ALWAYS check with the cemetery!

        In a private cemetery you should ALWAYS ask permission before taking pictures.

        For more details, we recommend reading this great post on the Legal Genealogist blog

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      4. How do I know if a cemetery has been photographed already? How do I avoid duplicating images?

        Look up the cemetery on BillionGraves before you go. The cemetery map will show orange GPS flags wherever pictures have already been taken.

        You can also check the cemetery map on the BillionGraves app

        To get even finer resolution you can search (using the BG app) for a name on a headstone. In the app, tap the "Records" button and then type the name of interest. If it comes back with a record then that one's already been done!

        Sometimes being thorough will lead to some duplication. You don't need to worry too much, merging duplicates is pretty easy.

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      5. How do I add or edit a Cemetery?

        To add a Cemetery from the website please follow these steps:

        1. Login on the BillionGraves website.
        2. Under the "Tools" tab you will find "Add a Cemetery".
        3. Follow the steps listed.

        To edit a Cemetery please follow these steps:
        1. Locate the cemetery you wish to edit using the BillionGraves cemetery look up.
        2. Once located, click the cemetery to reach the cemetery home page.
        3. Make sure you are logged in at this point.
        4. On the left hand side boxes you will see Address, Information, etc..
        5. Click edit on Address to change the location or name. Once the corrections are made click save.

        For more Information please check out our How To's on the Blog.

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      6. If I have pictures on my computer of a cemetery, can I upload them to BillionGraves?

        One of the core ideas of the BillionGraves project is to record these pictures with their GPS location so that others will be able to find it again and so that researchers can search for others buried nearby. Pictures with a digital camera won't have the GPS location attached so we recommend simply retaking those pictures the next time you are in the cemetery.

        On rare occasions we will accommodate photos of headstones from other devices. If you have pictures of cemeteries that are difficult to locate, travel to, or of headstones that have since been damaged, destroyed, or removed, please contact us at and we are happy to review your request and make appropriate arrangements.

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      7. What if my smartphone says I'm in a different cemetery when I'm taking pictures?

        If you are in a cemetery, the camera view will list the name of the cemetery on the bottom of your screen. If the cemetery name is not the cemetery you are in, you can change it. Tap the cemetery name, and a list of possible cemeteries will come up (those in close proximity). Tap the name of the cemetery you are in.

        If, however, your cemetery is not listed or the camera does not recognize that you are in a cemetery, you can add a cemetery. From the Home screen, tap Cemeteries, and then either tap the "+" at the top of the screen or the "Add a New Cemetery" button at the end of the list of cemeteries. Save the cemetery you create, and then go back to the camera view, verify the correct cemetery name is showing, and start taking pictures.

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      8. How do I link images together?

        Take a picture of the first part of the headstone you want to photograph, then push the link button on the bottom left corner of the camera. You will see it will turn blue to let you know it's linking the next image you take to the previous one. You can repeat this same process as many times as needed to link together all of the related pictures.

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      9. When and what images should I link together?

        You should always link pictures of headstones together when they:

        1. Have 2 or more sides
        2. Have only a first name on the headstone with a stone nearby that has the family name on it (This happens occasionally when families are buried together)
        3. Are difficult to read and need a couple of close-up shots of the headstone.

        A good rule of thumb is to link images together when they need multiple shots to help the transcriber (and viewer) know who is buried there.

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      10. What if I forgot to link some images together?

        No problem! All you have to do is follow these steps to link those images together:

        1. Log in to the BillionGraves website.
        2. Click "My Photos" under the "Photos" tab.
        3. Click the Album image for the date of image that you want to link.
        4. Click the image that you want to link.
        5. Click the "Link Image" button at the bottom of the page.
        5. Add or Remove image links.
        6. Click "Link Images".

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      11. Questions about Transcribing for BillionGraves

      12. How do I transcribe names for BillionGraves?

        - Go to the BillionGraves Transcription page.

        - Review the Transcription Help.

        - Enter names, dates, and any other information on the headstone into the fields provided.

        - Headstones can have information for many individuals. Make sure to add information for each.

        - Photos will then be available from the search page.

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      13. How should I type names as I transcribe?

        We prefer you use title case to transcribe names, meaning capitalize the first letter of each word. E.g. Laura Bean, not laura bean or LAURA BEAN.

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      14. What do I put in fields that are not readable?

        - If nothing is readable for a field then leave the field blank. For example if none of the given names are readable then leave the given names field blank.

        - If a field is partially readable, such as a date, then fill in what is readable and add a dash for unreadable numbers. (Ex. 19-5)

        IMPORTANT: do NOT add question marks for unreadable characters or words.

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      15. What if I find a transcription that is incorrect?

        We allow you to edit any transcription to improve it. Since all of our transcribers are volunteers, some discrepancies are expected. Simply navigate to that headstone's Record View. On that page, there is a blue button that says "Edit" on the right next to the name on the record. If you click "Edit", you can make any changes that are needed on the record. Click here for more information.

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      16. If there are markers in the background of a picture, should I transcribe them too?

        No. Please only transcribe the main most visible marker. A separate record needs to be made for each individual marker. If all the names are transcribed this can create duplicates.

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      17. Technical Questions

      18. What devices can I use to take pictures for BillionGraves?

        In order to run the BillionGraves app, your device must have a camera, wifi and GPS capabilities. Visit our devices page to see a list of which devices will and will not work.

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      19. Can I use my iPod Touch?

        Sorry, the current iPod Touch does not have GPS capability.

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      20. Can I use my digital camera to take pictures for BillionGraves?

        Most digital cameras do not have GPS capabilities so that's not going to work. However, if you have a GPS capable camera contact to get picture upload privileges added to your account.

        On rare occasions we will accommodate photos of headstones from other devices. If you have pictures of cemeteries that are difficult to locate, travel to, or of headstones that have since been damaged, destroyed, or removed, please contact us at and we are happy to review your request and make appropriate arrangements.

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      21. Can I use a device without activating the data service to still take pictures for BillionGraves?

        Yes you can! As long as you have a smartphone/tablet that has GPS capabilities then you can use it to take pictures. Simply download the app and login while you have Wifi coverage . Use the smartphone/tablet to take pictures as you normally would and then once you get back to Wifi coverage, upload them to BillionGraves. This is a great way to be able to take pictures for BillionGraves without having to pay for a monthly data plan.

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      22. Which versions of the iPad support taking photos for BillionGraves?

        Only iPads that have Wi-FI + Cellular (data) capabilities have GPS hardware which is mandatory for taking pictures for BillionGraves. For more info see Apple iPad Comparisons

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      23. The battery on my smartphone/tablet drains quickly when I take pictures. What can I do?

        Close all other apps on your device.

        Reduce the brightness of your screen.

        Turn off auto brightness.

        Disable push notifications.

        Disable push email.

        Disable Bluetooth.

        Disable vibrations.

        Update your OS to the latest version.

        Use an external battery.

        You may also want to bring along a car charger.

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      24. What are the hardware requirements for a device to run the BillionGraves application?

        - iOS or Android operating system

        - Camera

        - GPS

        - Internet Access

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      25. What can I do if my GPS is not working correctly?

        Open the native map application on your device to see if the location is correct. If it is not then try restarting your device.

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      26. What do I do if my device does not recognize me as a verified user when I attempt to upload my images?

        Go to BillionGraves App -> Dashboard -> Account, and tap the "Sign Out" button and then log back in again.

        If you are still having problems, wait for ~30 minutes and then try again. It may be an internet or server problem.

        If all else fails please contact us at

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      27. What devices work best with the BillionGraves application?

        Unquestionably, the iPhone works the best. iPad's with cellular data service also work very well. Android's are a little bit more tricky since they're all different. For a list of Android's that have been used successfully please click here.

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