Before starting this process to get credit for community service please send an email to:

You will need to include the following:

  • Name
  • County
  • The email you used to log in to BillionGraves.  Without the email we will not be able to verify your work and you will not get credit for taking photos or transcriptions.  This information will not be shared with anyone, but are for our own record keeping purposes for the Department of Workforce Services. 
  • Cemetery you are choosing to do the work in. It can be a cemetery not currently on our site, as this can be added in later. 

Here are some things to keep in mind. To get your hours in, you can choose from; photo taking, transcriptions or a combination of both. 

Here is our formula: For each hour of service you will need:

250 photos per hour for photo taking (EASIEST

48 Transcriptions (Filling out what is on the headstones) per hour  (MORE DIFFICULT)

OR If you would like to transcribe your own photos:

805 Photos and 805 Transcriptions- This roughly amounts to 3 hours in the cemetery and 17 hours of home transcribing

Please keep in mind that we have many volunteers on our website who are older and love to transcribe photos. They have a difficult time getting into the cemetery. Your chances of being able to transcribe without taking photos and being able to get in your service hours are very slim. Taking photos is fun, very easy and can be done rather quickly.

The process for taking photos and transcribing them MUST follow this format:

  1. Take pictures

    • 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
  2. Upload 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.
  3. Transcribe pictures

    • 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.

Here are some examples of photos that are done well: Notice the stone is readable, and the whole stone is in the photo. 

Here are poor photos that if submitted this way there will be no credit given: The first stone is blurry & the second stone does not show the entire stone. 

For Transcriptions:

You will notice that the entire epitaph is listed in the transcription along with the date of birth and death. Not all headstones have lengthy epitaphs. This one though is great!

In order to get credit for transcriptions, you must include a full name and the items written on the headstone. DO NOT transcribe foreign headstones unless you understand diacritics or can read and write fluently in other languages. We do not want foreign languages translated and they must stay in the language they are written in.  Currently we have need of Hebrew, Chinese, Arabic and a multitude of other languages. Email: for more details. 

After your information is shared with our staff, and your work is verified, an email and attachment will be sent out with your work hours on company letter head to the email address in our database.  This will be set up only on a monthly basis, and hours will not be able to be carried over to the following month. 

For any questions regarding this project or the BillionGraves processes, you can visit our helpdesk at