I am not an attorney and any comments I post are not intended, nor should they be construed, as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please consult a legal expert who is familiar with the area of legal expertise you need.
Updated July 12, 2019 to include Standard Disclaimer above and clarify some points below.
If you are familiar with Find-A-Grave, it has a “Famous” section. One of the recent additions to the Famous section is https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/192415894/original_find_a_grave. Not sure if it was originally added as a joke by somebody who was unhappy with the loss of Original Find-A-Grave or if one of the admins added it.
The rules and FAQs for determining if a Find-A-Grave memorial is designated Famous tend to be a bit more complicated and somewhat arbitrary in nature. For example, there are some memorials that deserve a Famous designation, but don’t have it and others who have it and weren’t Famous. Personally I like how BillionGraves handles Famous – if you have a Wikipedia article, the record can be designated Famous. All you do is add the Wikipedia link. Using Moe Howard of Three Stooges fame, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moe_Howard. If you go to his BillionGraves record, https://billiongraves.com/grave/Moe-Howard/28113090, and scroll down to Life Story, it links to his Wikipedia article. I chose Moe Howard for a reason as I am working on a Three Stooges blog post which will be posted once somebody in Queens, New York adds one last BillionGraves image.
Here are some of the Find-A-Grave FAQs on Famous (more can be found on the Find-A-Grave forums, but you have to be a member of the forums and logged in):
Famous memorials are a special collection maintained by Find A Grave and will not be transferred to anyone.
Add a memorial and select ‘Yes’ under the ‘Is this a famous person?’ section. All memorials submitted as famous go through an approval process. Famous memorial submissions must also contain accurate and verifiable disposition information and an original bio that conforms to the Famous Bio Guidelines.
Do not confuse importance with fame. Every ancestor is important and every veteran deserves to be remembered and honored. However, that does not mean that they are ‘famous’. An individual is more likely to be designated as ‘famous’ if they were well known outside of their local community.
Famous Biographies on Find A Grave should be written in the style of Encyclopedia biographies, conveying information about the subject in a neutral, professional way.
Biographies are required to be entirely a submitter’s ORIGINAL work. Snippets of other works can be used in the body of the bio but must be properly credited and cannot be the entire bio OR a large part of it, with the exception of quoted Medal of Honor citations.
All bios should start out with a simple category header identifying what the person is notable for. It can be “Actor”, “Actress”, “Blues Musician”, “Businessman”, etc. Multiple identifiers are permitted – “US Congressman, US Senator”, etc. Except for politicians or world leaders, the nationality of the person is not necessary in the header; i.e., use “Artist” rather then “French Artist”. (The nationality or nation of origin should be in the text of the biography) Words like “Well-known”, “Acclaimed”, “Famous” etc. should not be used in the category header. (They can be used in the description following the category header, such as “Blues Musician. She was a well-known singer and dancer…”, etc.)
Excessive use of the subject’s name in the bio is not necessary. In most cases, use “he” or “she” when referring to the person. The subject’s name will be featured prominently at the top of the memorial.
Genealogical information about the subject should not be included in a Famous bio, UNLESS the subject is related to someone who is famous.
Do not capitalize any words other than the first word in a sentence or an acronym. Only use an acronym when it is more common than the whole phrase, that it stands for i.e. “USS” “NASCAR”, “WWF” etc. No other words should be capitalized.
Cities & Countries:
Do not use abbreviations for cities, states, countries, etc. Use “New York” instead of “NY”, “England” instead of “Eng.”, etc.
Always use “United States” with ONE exception – Identifying American politicians. They should always be headed as “US Congressman”, etc.
Do not include the birth and death dates in the bio. It is redundant. When using dates within the biography, make them standard date sequences, i.e., “May 2, 1935” rather than the military date sequence, “2 May 1935”. Dates of wars are not necessary in bios. Write “He fought in the American Civil War” rather than “He fought in the American Civil War (1861-1865)”. When describing a time span, write it out rather than using a dash. i.e “He was president from 1876 to 1884” rather than “He was president 1876-1884”.
Personal opinions from the author of the bio are expressly discouraged. You should say, “He was considered by many to be the greatest Flugelhorn player of all time…” rather than saying “He was the greatest Flugelhorn player of all time…” The first can be considered a testable fact; the second is a subjective opinion. Saying things like “The world is a better place because of her accomplishments” or “Good riddance to him because of the pain he caused” are both subjective opinions as well and are discouraged.
Do not include any personal messages from you, the author, to the readers of the bio. Never write things like “It took a long time, but I found his grave. E-mail me with questions”.
No matter how long a biography is, it should not have paragraph breaks in it. One paragraph only.
Ampersands are not allowed. Write out the word “and” instead of using an “&”.
Links to other websites or email addresses are not allowed within a biography. Lines like “More information can be found at http://www.eatatjoes.com…” will not be accepted.
These guidelines will be added to and updated from time to time. Find A Grave reserves the right to edit any biography submitted to the site to conform to these and any future posted standards.
At the bottom of every famous memorial there is a rating system. You can rank someone’s fame by clicking on one of the ‘star’ options. A vote of one star indicates that the person was barely famous. A vote of five stars indicates the person achieved widespread fame. Do not confuse fame with importance when voting.
Famous memorials may not be sponsored.
First, Determine if you really need the memorial transferred to you for management. Only request a transfer if you have extensive changes to make to a memorial. You can add photos and suggest corrections without the need to manage a memorial. Simply having someone in your family tree is not sufficient to request a transfer. With millions of members, there will be many overlapping family trees and it would be impossible for all members to manage their entire tree.
Second, Transfer requests will be for direct relatives within four generations. This would be your siblings, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Third, If you have extensive additions or changes to make to a memorial, contact the memorial manager via the ‘Suggest other Corrections’ link under the ‘Suggest Edits’ button on the memorial in question with your request to have the memorial transferred to you. This will send an email request to the member, even if there is not an email address listed on their profile.
Fourth, Always explain your relationship in the request! Any non-direct relatives (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc) are not a required transfer. Keep in mind that the memorial manager may also be related to the memorial and may not make the transfer. You may also want to include your specific interest in the memorial. Do not make bulk surname requests. Memorials listed as famous or maintained by Find A Grave will not be transferred.
Each member can upload 5 photos for a memorial. A memorial can have a maximum of 20 photos. Someone who sponsors a memorial can add an additional 10 photos (for a total of 30 on the memorial). Famous memorials are a special collection where photographs are usually limited to one good biographical photo and 2-4 grave photos.
In general, admins only allow three attempts to add a Bio that meets Find-A-Grave Famous standards. That’s a total of three attempts no matter how many people try and submit Bios. Typically, if the Bio isn’t accepted by the third attempt, the memorial is usually stripped of its temporary Famous designation and no more Bio attempts will be accepted. An admin may later decide the memorial should be Famous and write a Bio for it and add the Famous tag to it.
If you are uploading photographs for Famous, or any other memorial, it needs to be a photo that you own the copyright for. Owning a photo doesn’t give you copyright and that’s true if you pay for a photo. I have family members who were photographed by a major photo chain and the chain makes it clear they own the copyright to those photos.