19    Feb 201453 comments

MyHeritage and BillionGraves join forces to digitally preserve the world’s cemeteries

We're excited to announce that MyHeritage has teamed up with BillionGraves to launch a global crowdsourcing initiative to digitally preserve the world’s cemeteries.

Gravestones play a very important role in genealogy. They provide vital information such as the person’s name, the names of close relatives and dates of birth and death. They often describe the deceased’s character and personality, providing a glimpse into the person’s life. However, billions of gravestones in thousands of cemeteries worldwide have never been documented nor has their information been made available online.

In addition, time is chipping away at the gravestones and many are becoming unreadable over the years. Age, and exposure to the elements, means that what is written on the stone eventually fades, making it harder, and sometimes impossible, to read them and know who has been buried there.

Today we have the necessary tools - it is up to our generation 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, 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 application (Click to zoom).

Starting immediately, we’ll be reaching out to the users of MyHeritage 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 BillionGraves’ website, and MyHeritage's search engine for historical records, SuperSearch. Each record will contain photographs of the gravestone, GPS coordinates, and an index of corresponding information.

A mapped out gravestone record on the BillionGraves application (Click to zoom).

MyHeritage Record Matching technology will be unleashed on the new records and users will automatically receive notifications of any new cemetery records that match individuals in their family tree. Users can save new cemetery records and extract relevant information directly to their family tree, helping them discover vital details about relatives and find out more about their ancestors.

This global initiative is a great way for MyHeritage 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. Through our partnership with BillionGraves, MyHeritage continues to add additional digitized global content, providing enormous value to millions of users.

We'll be posting more details soon about how you can participate in this global mission and help preserve the information today, for the generations to come.

The MyHeritage team

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Comments (53) Trackbacks (4)
  1. I have been a Billiongraves contributor almost since the beginning of the project. Enhancements and upgrades requested by volunteers are listened to and the team at Billiongraves continues to make it easier and better to do our jobs. The one thing that has eluded or had been looked over is a way to link up with people locally to tackle a cemetery a lot quicker. I have already completed one colonial cemetery on my own, am 80% through another, and at about 60% through a town cemetery that has taken me two years to get as far as I am now. I am disabled and have a difficult time moving around and can not complete as much as I would like whereas I am working alone. There has to be a way to connect people in their local area to speed up the process of completing cemeteries especially here in Massachusetts as we have some of the oldest in the country and the stones are not faring too well.
  2. I live in Danville Va and have found several graves on private property with trees and weeds taking over.Have been researching Wolfe family.in WVa.Was born and grew up there A lot of my kin is buried in Baxter Cemetery i have several pictures of grave stones from there.Retired and will be happy to help.
  3. I was more than delighted to read the latest news on photographing the entire cemetery of Segula Cemetery in Petah Tikva, and digitize gravestones using the BillionGraves mobile application.
    I do hope this project will include Jewish cemeteries in Germany as well, a country with the most restrictive rules to privacy (not that one can claim privacy in cemeteries!)
    The BerlinWeissensee Jewish Cemetery is a prime example. I would love more on that particular location.
  4. Glad to see this ... I have been using findagrave for years and this would just add to research data ...
  5. I would love to contribute from my area.
  6. Can we use a camera for this adventure or must it be via an android phone or iphone app? The first cemetery I'll tackle is that in Carson City, NV.
  7. Sounds like a great project. I would be glad to contribute but don't have an I-Phone. But an IPad and IPod should work, right?
  8. Tried to register but it said my e-mail was already in use.
  9. Hi Janna,

    If you already have an existing BillionGraves account, then please download the billiongraves app to your smartphone and login to the app using your existing account.

    Regards,
    Esther / MyHeritage Team
  10. THIS WEBSITE IS VERY FRUITFUL FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.
  11. I have a couple of photos of family gravestones. Were can I upload them?
  12. Nice idea and I wish I could contribute but my smart phone is BlackBerry, not Android or iPhone.
  13. It is great to see all the enthusiasm for this important project!

    Ann, Linda - A camera cannot be used with the app, and photos of graves that you have previously taken cannot be uploaded through the app. This is because it is important for us to ensure that GPS coordinates are included with each and every gravestone picture.

    Glenys - If you don’t have a smartphone, we'd love for you to still help out! You can help with entering the names and information that appear on the gravestone pictures. Sign up for free at http://www.billiongraves.com/myheritage. Then help by transcribing the gravestone photos straight from your own browser: http://billiongraves.com/pages/transcribe.

    Linda- An Ipad should work fine, provided that it has working GPS and an internet connection to upload the photos.
  14. Hi
    I am in Western Australia and would be happy to contribute to this project. I have already found a gravestone of one of my husbands relatives in Australia through this myheritage service. We will be travelling around the country in a couple of years and would love to contribute once that happens. In the meantime I will endeavour to assist with any cemeteries we come across in our travels, although these will only be around Perth.
  15. I love this idea! I'm currently searching for relatives headstones but not having luck yet. I'd love to help :)
  16. I have an android tablet with GPS. Can I use that to document?
  17. Do you have to have a smart phone to participate? I have been documenting graves for about 2 years for Find-A-Grave but solely use a digital camera?
  18. Is an app for BlackBerry avalable to download ?
  19. I would like to be involved and do the grave yards in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada and surrounding communities.
  20. would love to help, but i don't have an i phone, can i take with camera and down load them?
  21. I would like to contribute from my area
  22. Will the app work with a android? We don't have the so called "smart phones" and not about to get one.
    We came across an old cemetery in Pe Ell, WA a few weeks ago and were planning to explore it, anyway. Can we send digital photos??
  23. I would be more than willing to assist in this important worthwhile project.
  24. I have the billiongraves app on my smart phone and plan on starting to photograph gravestones in the local graveyards as soon as the snow melts, but that will be awhile, since we have about 3 feet of snow on the ground at the moment with more on the way
  25. My Husband and I are working with others to log the cemetary which belongs to our Church. We use a camera and do not have a GPS on it which is a shame as we have already taken over 150 photo's of headstones. Are you thinking of using photo's in the future without the GPS? We are doing this because over the years the records have been lost or misplaced.
  26. Pls let me know how I can help. I would love to do the cemeteries in my area of Maine. I am in Waldoboro, Maine. Pls contact me.
  27. I would love to participate as well, but it's a little difficult for me since I'm disabled and not allowed to drive again...yet.
  28. I'd love to include at least two community graveyars with our rellies. I have neither android or iphone. I'll have photos in case they are ever needed, but I will document the information that I'm able to read. I'm looking forward to being able to find our family members in your exciting project.
  29. I would be happy to participate - I live in Melbourne, Victoria Australia & we have some of the largest cemeteries in Australia, right here in Melbourne. Fawkner Cemetery, Melbourne Cemetery, Springvale Cemetery. Only problem I can see is most of your details are American orientated, would there be much use for Australian gravestones?
  30. I would be happy to participate - Perth, Western Australia. wE have some pioneer cemeteries here. Hopefully you are interested in Australian headstones/gravestones. I have also photograph many in my travels during my genealogical fact finding travels.
  31. I am in Australia and have ancestors buried in the Lake View Cemetery, Cuyahoga County, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Wondering if any volunteers living in the area could make a start on that cemetery? Message to Alec Mead. Billion Graves has made a start in Melbourne and is progressing through Cheltenham Pioneer Cemetery and Cheltenham Memorial Park. Go for it!!
  32. I live in South Africa and have found it vry difficult to trace my roots. I would be very happy to volunteer to help
  33. Hi I live in a Cemetery Gate house in Brentwood Essex England and would love to help
  34. Documenting the cemeteries in our town for the Magalang Heritage years ago made some people laugh at me. Thanks for the invitation to join.
  35. This is an exciting project that I could easily do with my new Android Smartphone. The only problem is I am based in London UK. Would this be of interest to you?
  36. Hi, I live in central California.I live close to a lot of gold rush cemeteries. Would love to help.I will use my smart phone and a camera. I have also worked with find a grave.I have android tablet and phone will look for apps.
  37. Our cemetery may wish to become involved. I will bring the subject up at our next meeting.
  38. This shows the positive power of the Internet: I have ancestors in UK-Scotland, Austria-Germany and the Ukraine (where little info exists on-line). It will be so exciting to SEE the fruits of concurrent labor in exchange for our work in North America...especially in smaller sites that may not have been documented before!!! We're in as soon as we can gather our technology and get rolling!!
  39. I believe some suggestions on how to better photograph 'hard to read' headstones would be appreciated. Time of day, angles, enhancements etc. would be appreciated.
    Cellphone pictures are small and difficult to read in sunlight
    To view photos taken at the end of the day, can sometimes be disappointing.
  40. I live in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada and would love to help. The Peter Robinson Settlers came around Peterborough in 1823 and 1825.
  41. This is a very huge undertaking in recording the past while the present is happening and somehow set in motion something that will be functioning in the furure. I am new to this but will contribute something.
  42. I live in Essex , and would be very willing to help , but i have only got a digital camera
  43. I have been researching ancestors graves myself and know how difficult it is sometimes to find them , so would very willing to help if i can
  44. Iwill take photos from graves in carbonear
  45. I would love to participate. I am in East London, South Africa and move around a lot. I have an Ipad. If there is an app that can be used, please can you advise.
  46. I live in Stafford County, VA and am interested in assisting with this project. Plan on communicating with Hartwood Presbyterian Church. Will need to secure access to appropriate phone.
  47. This concept is excellent, it will be of great assistance to to all those doing Genealogical research
  48. In Sydney Australia, Rookwood Cemetery is the largest in New South Wales. I also have photos of Tibooburra Cemetery. Far North Western country. Rookwood also has a Society that have tours every month. Would be happy to photograph some rural areas of Australia.
  49. Thank you for updating. From personal experience I can tell you that your project will succeed under the condition that the grave is readable. I went to my grandfather's grave in Berlin and after search found and renovated it.
  50. Very Good!!
  51. Wonderful project. I would love to contribute.
  52. Sounds like a great idea. Can a digital camera that records GPS with each photo work with your app?
    ie: some of the Canon & Nikon models.
  53. Chi muore giace, chi vive si da' pace

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