I mentioned Find-A-Grave’s new upload untranscribed photos in this blog post:
After running a couple of photos through the process, I came to a few conclusions. First, they mentioned a seven (7) day grace period before the photos hit the queue where others can transcribe them. It doesn’t seem enabled at this point since the two I uploaded went straight to the queue and both were visible on the main page as well as many other photos uploaded the same day. There was no option for me to transcribe them before it sent them to Find-A-Grave’s main page. I uploaded them.
Next, I intentionally chose a photo I took back in April. I double-checked before uploading it and there was a memorial on Find-A-Grave. The memorial did not have a headstone photo. When I typed in the last name, it gave me a long list of possible matches. Since I knew she had a memorial, I hunted for it. However, there needs to be an easier way to search for a possible match. The last name wasn’t that common, but there were 51 memorials starting with the same letters. The name was only four letters long, but imagine trying to add a Smith, Johnson, Brown, or other common name. For now, the system does not alert you if there is an existing photo for a memorial and no word on how it will handle a memorial that has the maximum number of photos if you upload a new one. In my case, I knew there was not a photo yet.
Here’s a screenshot of Arlington National Cemetery as an example of the new Transcriptions options:
The two items are upload headstone photos and cemetery photo map. Clicking on upload headstone photos brings up this screen. You can choose drag and drop or upload files. Drag and drop is the best option if you are uploading a lot of photos.
I checked out the cemetery photo map from several cemeteries and they all displayed the same thing. This is probably placeholder until they do whatever they plan on doing with this item. I moved the map to other places and did not find the photos I uploaded on the map.
There is a Flag option on the transcription page:
The Flag options remind me of the Report Image option on BillionGraves:
BillionGraves used to have a language option as a choice, but removed it when they added the ability to transcribe in different languages.
Depending on how it works, the unreadable choice may be a sticking point with many people based on other graving sites that have implemented a similar choice.
Why Does It Matter?
The unreadable option matters include:
1) Some people do not feel comfortable cleaning non-relatives’ headstones.
2) Other people believe relatives should see the headstone as it was found. This state lets family members know if the cemetery is doing a good job of maintaining their loved ones’ graves.
3) Many cemeteries have rules against doing anything, including cleaning, weeding, etc. to a headstone or grave. This restriction generally also applies to family members’ headstones and graves. This policy can be a liability issue, it may have developed after people unintentionally damaged headstones or graves during cleaning, or for any number of other reasons.
Before doing anything to a headstone or grave, you need to check with the cemetery owner and the organization who maintains the cemetery if cemetery maintenance is done by somebody other than the owner. Do not assume lack of posted rules and regulations means the cemetery does not have any. Same goes if the cemetery has a list: do not assume the list is a complete list. One cemetery group has a 43-page booklet of rules and regulations!
4) Find-A-Grave’s FAQs on the topic of doing anything to a headstone can be found here:
As noted in the above link and screenshot:, Find-A-Grave’s policy is to leave alone headstones and grave markers that belong to non-relatives. They need to change this FAQ to be in line with checking with 3) above since many cemeteries with restrictions do not allow family members to do anything to a relative’s headstone.
A Find-A-Grave admin suggested headstones need to be taken “in situ” or as they are found. This recommendation was a while back, but the suggestion never made it into the FAQs.
Is it better to have no headstone or one that is less than perfect? Ideally, a readable headstone is the best choice, but as noted above, it is not always possible to achieve this ideal. Hopefully, a less ideal headstone photo gets retaken later, but in many cases they will not be.
My Overall Impressions So Far
I think it’s a good start and has great potential. I have taken over 20,000 headstone photos, but only uploaded a fraction to Find-A-Grave. The primary reason was having to add a memorial for the roughly 10,000 photos that do not have a memorial yet. It can take a while to add a memorial, then having to crop the photos to make them fit within Find-A-Grave’s guidelines, etc. I do not mind if somebody else transcribes any photos I upload. For me, it is more about getting the photos online.
I am looking through my photos for several that need to be transcribed and plan on adding my impressions on both transcribing my own photos and what happens when somebody else transcribes my photos.
Find-A-Grave has a Find A Grave Web Beta User Group on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/534942869983407 Find A Grave Web Beta User Group
There is a link to the Facebook group on the feedback page if you leave feedback. It is a closed Facebook group, but if you want to provide feedback directly, it is the place to be.