We would love to have you take photos of gravestones or transcribe gravestone records for your community service hours! To get your hours in, you can choose from photo taking, transcribing, or a combination of both.
BillionGraves does have a greater need to have photos taken than for transcriptions to be done at this time, so if you have the option, please take pictures!
You will be credited with 1 hour for every 250 photos you take with the BillionGraves app. That may sound like a lot, but it's really quite easy. That pace is only about 1 photo every 15 seconds.
The app will automatically keep track of the number of photos you take. If you have already started taking photos and want to know how many hours you have accrued so far, simply look at the number of photos recorded on your phone and divide that number by 250.
- Download the BillionGraves app to your smartphone.
- Create a free account on the app or at BillionGraves.com.
- In the app, click on "take pictures" to begin taking photos in your local cemetery. The GPS location will automatically be recorded.
- When finished, connect to Wi-Fi and upload cemetery photos.
- Repeat! :)
- Stand to the side to avoid casting a shadow.
- Remove weeds, grass, or other debris that may block gravestone information.
- Be sure the names and dates are inside the photo frame.
Linking Photos with the BillionGraves App
If a gravestone has data on more than one side (for example, parents on one side and children on the other side) there is a way to link them together. Just click on the chain icon in the corner of your screen between each photo that you would like to link (front side, chain icon, backside).
You can use this linking feature for obelisks that have data on four sides. You can also use it to link a large gravestone with a family surname on it to nearby smaller gravestones with the family member's first names on them.
Find a Cemetery to Document
- Click HERE to go to the volunteer page to find a cemetery to document.
- Click on the cemetery you are interested in. A map will appear.
- The orange dots on the map indicate where GPS-linked photos have already been taken. If there are areas with gravestones that have no pins, then your service is needed to photograph that section of the cemetery.
Take Good Quality Photos
The photos that you take must be of good quality in order to be credited. It's a good idea to take some extra photos just in case some of your images are blurry or outside of the photo frame.
Below are two examples of photos that are done well. Notice that both of these gravestones are readable and the entire gravestone is in the photo.
Below are two examples of photos that could not be given credit.
This gravestone image is blurry which is usually caused by moving too soon as the photo is taken.
This image does not show the entire gravestone. Please step back to capture the entire gravestone in the photo frame.
What is transcribing? It is recording the names, dates, and other information from the photo of the gravestone onto a form on the BillionGraves website.
If you are transcribing the names and dates from your own photos, you will be credited 1 hour for every 48 images transcribed.
When you upload your photos you will be given the option of transcribing your own photos or having others do it.
Remember, BillionGraves needs to have photos taken far more than we need transcriptions done. We have MANY volunteers just waiting for photos to be taken so they can transcribe them. If you live in an area where GPS linked photos still need to be taken, please click “no” to the option of transcribing, let other volunteers take care of that, and keep taking pictures!
In order to get credit for transcriptions, the full name, dates, and all of the other information written on the headstone must be added in for each record.
Click HERE for more information about transcribing.
** To speed up the process, take a screenshot of your transcription numbers on the website and it will help our staff make this process go a lot quicker. This can be found in the left hand corner of the home screen, where it says "Transcriptions".