It receives and uploads digital photographs of headstones from burial sites, taken by unpaid volunteers at cemeteries. Find a Grave then posts the photo on its website.
The site was created in 1995 by Salt Lake City resident Jim Tipton (born in Alma, Michigan) to support his hobby of visiting the burial sites of celebrities. He later added an online forum. Find a Grave was launched as a commercial entity in 1998, first as a trade name and then incorporated in 2000. The site later expanded to include graves of non-celebrities, in order to allow online visitors to pay respect to their deceased relatives or friends.
In 2013, Tipton sold Find a Grave to Ancestry.com, stating the genealogy company had "been linking and driving traffic to the site for several years. Burial information is a wonderful source for people researching their family history." In a September 30, 2013 press release, Ancestry.com officials said they would "launch a new mobile app, improve customer support, [and] introduce an enhanced edit system for submitting updates to memorials, foreign-language support, and other site improvements."
In March 2017, a beta website for a redesigned Find a Grave was launched at gravestage.com. Public feedback was overwhelmingly negative. Sometime between May 29 and July 10 of that year, the beta website was migrated to new.findagrave.com, and a new front end for it was deployed at beta.findagrave.com. In November 2017, the new site became live and the old site was deprecated. On August 20, 2018, the original Find a Grave website was officially retired.
Content and features
The website contains listings of cemeteries and graves from around the world. American cemeteries are organized by state and county, and many cemetery records contain Google Maps (with GPS coordinates supplied by contributors) and photographs of the cemeteries and gravesites. Individual grave records may contain dates and places of birth and death, biographical information, cemetery and plot information, photographs (of the grave marker, the individual, etc.), and contributor information.
Contributors must register as members to submit listings, called memorials, on the site. The submitter becomes the manager of the listing but may transfer management. Only the current manager of a listing may edit it, although any member may use the site's features to send correction requests to the listing's manager. Managers may add links to other listings of deceased spouses, parents, and siblings for genealogical purposes.
Any member may also add photographs and notations to individual listings; notations may include images of flowers, flags, religious, or other symbols, and often include a message of sympathy or condolence. Members may post requests for photos of a specific grave; these requests will be automatically sent to other members who have registered their location as being near that grave.
Though it does not ask permission from immediate family members before uploading the photos, it will remove and take down photos or a URL for a deceased loved one at the request of an immediate family member.
Find a Grave also maintains lists of memorials of famous persons by their "claim to fame", such as Medal of Honor recipients, religious figures, and educators. Find a Grave exercises editorial control over these listings.
- Canadian Headstones
- United States National Cemetery System's nationwide gravesite locator
- Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness
- Tombstone tourist
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- Maynard, Meleah (February 16, 2000). "Grave Matters: Minnesota's dead are only a click away". City Pages. Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota: Star Tribune Media Company LLC. Archived from the original on September 28, 2012. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
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- "Division of Corporations Entity File No. 3168328". Delaware Department of State. 2000. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved November 11, 2011.
- Silverman, Lauren (March 14, 2010). "Tracking Down Relatives, Visiting Graves Virtually". Washington, D.C.: National Public Radio. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
"At some point, I said, 'I am sick of drawing the lines of who is famous and who isn't. I'm just going to accept everyone,' " Tipton says.
- "Find a Grave FAQ: What can I include in a non-famous bio?". Find a Grave. Ancestry.com. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
- "Ancestry.com Acquires Find A Grave". Ancestry.com. Ancestry.com. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
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- "Find A Grave". gravestage.com. Ancestry.com. Archived from the original on May 29, 2017. Retrieved August 10, 2017.
- "Monday Mailbox: Find A Grave". The Ancestry Insider. April 3, 2017. Retrieved August 10, 2017.
- "Find A Grave – the same and yet different!". UpFront with NGS. National Genealogical Society. July 10, 2017. Retrieved August 10, 2017.
- "bgwiehle" (July 20, 2017). "Dear Randy: How Do I Post a Find A Grave Hint on Ancestry.com?". Genea-Musings. Randall J. Seaver. Retrieved August 10, 2017.
BETA is live and running in parallel with the old site. Now is the time for visitors and memorial owners to help test and improve the site.
- "Find A Grave". Find a Grave. Ancestry.com. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
- "Find A Grave Help". Find A Grave. Ancestry.com.
- Loudon, Bennett J. (September 2, 2011). "Civil War history carved in stone in Pittsford". Democrat and Chronicle. Gannett Company. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
- Moody, Sharon Tate (January 24, 2010). "Find A Grave can shorten the search". The Tampa Tribune. Tampa Media Group. Retrieved December 28, 2011.
The entries with tombstone photographs obviously are reliable, but if the entry is based only on a paper record of the interment (without a photograph), it's easy to mistype the date, so you're bound to find errors.
- "Find A Grave member: International Wargraves Photography Project". Find a Grave. Ancestry.com. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
- "Find A Grave Help: How do I request a grave photo?". Find a Grave. Ancestry.com. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
- "'Find A Grave' Cemetery Database Resources". Highlander.com. Parachute, CO. December 19, 2018. Retrieved November 22, 2020.
- "Searching the Cemetery: Find a Grave.com". Rutherford Public Library. Rutherford, NJ. Retrieved November 22, 2020.
- Dickerson, Melissa (2016). 10 Tips for Searching the Find a Grave website for your family history & genealogy. ISBN 978-1534710405. OCLC 967966290.
- Pierre-Louis, Marian (July 11, 2015). "4 Ways to Research in a Cemetery". Legacy News Family Tree. Retrieved November 22, 2020.
- How do I delete a photo? Archived February 2, 2017, at the Wayback Machine[failed verification]
- "Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor Recipients". Find a Grave. Ancestry.com. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
- "Claim to Fame: Religious figures". Find a Grave. Ancestry.com. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
- "Claim to Fame: Educators". Find a Grave. Ancestry.com. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
- "What are the standards for a famous Bio?". Find a Grave. Ancestry.com. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
- Brandels, Gayle (October 21, 2020). "Some people visit cemeteries on Halloween. This man visits them all year to honor the dead he's never met". The Washington Post: Inspired Life. Retrieved November 22, 2020.
- Cobbs, Chris (July 12, 2001). "Web site attracts millions of grave-seekers". Orlando Sentinel. Orlando, Florida: Tribune Publishing. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
- Colker, David (August 26, 1997). "Web site answers grave concerns about stars". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles: Tribune Publishing. Retrieved September 28, 2011.(subscription required)
- Dehler, Tamie (October 13, 2007). "Genealogy: 'Find a Grave' tremendous on many different levels". Tribune-Star. Terre Haute, Indiana: Community Newspaper Holdings. Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
- Eveleth, Rose (August 28, 2014). "The Volunteers of FindaGrave.com: Cemetery-loving hobbyists have uploaded millions of photographs of headstones from all over the United States". The Atlantic. Retrieved November 22, 2020.
- Gammage, Jeff (August 1, 2005). "Find VIPs (and others) who R.I.P. through online cemetery". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Media Network. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
- Johnstone, Nick (July 14, 2004). "Why I love ... findagrave.com". The Guardian. London: Guardian Media Group. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
- King, Peter (October 2, 2009). "Tip: Find a Grave has info you're dying to know". Newsday. Melville, New York: Cablevision. Retrieved September 28, 2011.(registration required)
- Mendelsohn, Daniel (June 1, 2017). "Why Daniel Mendelsohn is Obsessed with Cemeteries". Town & Country. Hearst Magazine Media.