How do I get started?
Find a cemetery that hasn't already been done:
- Check the cemetery map
- Click the pins on the map to see the cemetery name.
- Click on the cemetery name to see the cemetery page.
- View the cemetery page map to see where pictures have been taken at that cemetery.
- Search for a cemetery
- Go out and take a few pictures before you take a large group to the cemetery so that you will be better able to answer questions.
Have your group register and install the app (iOS, Android) before going to the cemetery. Internet access at the cemetery may be limited.
- Only devices that have a camera and GPS hardware can be used.
- WiFi only iPads and iPods do not have GPS hardware.
- Create a cemetery event and invite your group to participate in the event.
- During the main project, the leader should NOT take pictures. He/She should organize the group - be available to answer questions and direct traffic.
- Bring the following items with you to the cemetery.
- Plenty of drinking water
- Bug spray and sun block
- Something to completely shade headstones that are in partial shade like a blanket, umbrella or car window shade
- Flat headed shovel to remove dirt that may be covering a headstone
- A spray bottle with water to help remove dirt or bring out the lettering on difficult to read headstones
- Extra battery packs if you have them
- Teach your group how to take pictures, link successive images, and upload images.
- You may also want to teach your volunteers how to transcribe headstone data on the app. This should only be done for headstones that are difficult to read.
- Keep the headstone information visible. Clear away grass clippings or hold living plants aside while you take the photo.
- Avoid casting a shadow. When a shadow only covers part of the stone, it can make the part in the shade difficult to read in a photo.
- Avoid the sun if you can. It’s not always possible, but if you can, take photos in indirect light early morning, late evening, or overcast days work best.
- Include all important information in the photo frame. Make sure names, dates, etc. are all included.
- Link together images of each side of the headstone that has information.
- It works well to have your volunteers work in pairs. Each person takes a separate row of headstones. After finishing a row, leap-frog your companion to the next row.
- Volunteers who don't have a smartphone can help others who do by clearing flowers, grass or other debris off of the headstones.
- More tips for taking good pictures
- We highly recommend that you wait until you get home and connect to WiFi to upload your pictures. It'll go faster and you won't use up your data plan.
- Click on the 'Photos' button.
- Click on the 'Upload' button.
- That's all there is to it.
- After your pictures have been uploaded to the BillionGraves website you can begin transcription.
- It may take a few hours after the images are uploaded until they are approved and available.
- After 14 days your pictures will go into the general queue for anyone to transcribe.
- For more detailed information about transcribing see this video and this help page.
Just for Eagle Projects
Does BillionGraves qualify for use in an Eagle Project?
How do I get started?
Absolutely - On page 4 of the Eagle workbook it says: "Some aspect of a business operation provided as a community service may also be considered—for example, a park open to the public that happens to be owned by a business, but primarily benefits the community." While BillionGraves isn't a park it is a FREE service to the community that benefits thousands of people researching their family history, and cemetery sextons who spend too much time helping people find graves instead of taking care of the cemetery.
Technically BillionGraves itself is not the project. The Eagle project should focus on documenting a cemetery and preserving the historical records found there. BillionGraves is a tool that can be used to facilitate the project, store the information and make it freely available to everyone. Ultimately, the local council or district is responsible for determining if an Eagle project is approved.
Each Eagle project that uses BillionGraves may vary distinctly in the details. Some boys may decide to only take pictures, others may take pictures and transcribe the information themselves, while others may also decide to clean headstones, erect a veterans memorial, etc.
- Download the Eagle Service Project Workbook.
- Find a cemetery to document.
- Fill out the Contact Information and Project Description and Benefit information in your workbook.
- Get your Unit Leader, Unit Committee, Beneficiary and Council or District approval signatures (Proposal Page E).
- Plan and Organize your project.
- Carry out your project.
- Write up your Service Project Report.
- Get your Unit Leader and Beneficiary approval signatures (Project Report Page C).
- Schedule your Board of Review with the Council or District leader.
Who is my project beneficiary?
- Any of the following can be your beneficiary:
- Cemetery Sexton or Manager
- City council member or employee in charge of the cemetery
- BillionGraves Contact us
Have more questions? Contact Us.