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Should we key "as seen" on gravestones?

This was another community article that I feel should be placed in the forum:

User Question: "I've run across numerous stones that have already been transcribed, but are still in the queue. I notice that they are not 'key as seen' but info has been added that is not on the stone. Any advice on this? Should I delete info that has been added - middle name, marriage date, more complete birth/death dates - etc."

Here was a great response from a genealogist, I couldn't have said it better myself!


First do not delete any transcription info, unless you have independent information (evidence) that it is incorrect.

MANY of the people who photo and transcribe are working on cemetery documentation, beyond what BG asks us to do. This might include adding information on other names/dates based on census, family, archival, cemetery records. 

BG does state that they want the transcription to be what is on the stone, and do provide a place in a subset window to give other information, but that is not searchable, so I and a great many otthers, will add what we know within the main transcription fields. When they say Key As Seen; they really mean don't translate, transliterate, or other changes to the essential information/language that is on the stone. 

I do a lot of corrections, and matching of "orphan" first name stones, with linking to others in large family plots, and as I do this I use the Ancestry and Family Search databases along with other cemetery records to make sure the right people are linked and transcribed correctly. 

I probably spend more time on this activity than in transcribing,  because sorting out a large and incorrectly transcribed group, can take an hour or more. And, for me, it is an interesting and intellectually challenging exercise of the mind. And a good use of many years of family history research skills.


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If you aren't a genealogist but a cemetery enthusiast, we need transcribers!  However just as DS has stated, many of us, myself included are genealogists who work in cemeteries exclusively to link family members for FamilySearch, My Heritage, and Ancestry. We love going into cemeteries and adding in extra information that is not on the stone. In many parts of the United States, especially Texas, and the deep South people only use initials on a headstone. ( I think it was the Texan way of doing cemeteries back in the 1800's as many stones are only written G.R. Sims or W.A. Williams etc.) I spend a lot and I mean A LOT of time looking up US and British Census records in order to give these people and their family members the identity they deserve. 

If you are like me and want to add extra info, PLEASE PUT WHERE YOU GOT THESE EXTRAS IN THE NOTES!!!  If I find a marriage date for example, I will list in the notes that  I got the marriage date from Navarro County Texas Marriage Records 1850-1910 or I found the name in the 1881 Census for the U.K. etc. As a genealogist, you should be documenting EVERYTHING!!  This enables others to follow the paper trail. If this is not your forte don't worry a bit, just transcribe what you see, and others may add to your information later on. 

This is one of  the best things about BillionGraves.  We are a group of volunteers working for the best cemetery records available world wide! 

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