Wednesday, March 19, 2014

One Of My Favorite Things About The Genealogy Community

It's the good spirit of the work. I love the spirit of the work. It's not only the passion people develop in finding their ancestors but it's more than that. It is the spirit of service, one to another that is so common in this industry.It shows up in how people treat each other. It shows up in how we can collaborate and share. It also shows up in the partnerships taking place even in the business part of this work. As we find our ancestors we seem to be bound to them. As we share our knowledge with our family members we are more closely bound to them.

As an example last summer I wrote about how great it was for my young grandson Michael from Iowa to go photograph headstones together As I was indexing our own work the headstone of one our photos reflected Michael's image into the picture. We not only shared in the fun of doing this together, we reveled together of him being in the picture. He called me a few days ago to tell me he was passing by the cemetery we photographed and it reminded him of our fun time doing the billion graves thing. To see that article and photo, click here.

Using billion graves as another example I received this email this morning from another great company; MyHeritage. Read on and see if  you don't get the same great feeling I am talking about.

By the way; don't you just love the MyHeritage artwork?

Dear Larry,

Cemeteries are among the most valuable resources for family history research. Headstones (gravestones) contain a wealth of information about the deceased, such as dates of birth and death, names of relatives, and surprises such as photographs and emotional epitaphs.

There are hundreds of thousands of cemeteries worldwide, but most of them have never been documented, and the headstone information is not available online. Time is chipping away at the headstones and many become unreadable over the years :-(

Together with our partner, BillionGraves, we have recently launched a global initiative to photograph and transcribe all of the world's cemeteries, and make the data available for free!

This week we kickstarted this initiative by taking the employees of MyHeritage to "practice what we preach" and digitize an entire cemetery ourselves. We photographed more than 50,000 gravestones in a few hours in the largest project of this kind ever done in Israel. Read about our amazing experience and look at many photos documenting our project on our blog. Leading genealogy bloggers agree that this is a wonderful, worthy mission – read the posts of Dick Eastman, Randy Seaver and James Tanner about it.

We cannot do this important project alone. This is where YOU can make a big difference!
We extend an invitation to you to come join us in this exciting project.

How does it work?
1. BillionGraves is a very easy to use iPhone and Android app. First, click here to sign up to BillionGraves for free in its special MyHeritage welcome page.
2. Download the BillionGraves mobile app from that page.
3. Visit a cemetery near you, and take photos of the headstones using the app. GPS information on each grave is automatically captured.
4. Use the BillionGraves website to help enter the names and information that appear in the headstone photos that you took or other users have taken. All information is made available for free on the BillionGraves website and on MyHeritage SuperSearch. MyHeritage Record Matching technology will match the headstones automatically to your tree and all trees on MyHeritage, for free.

For more information, read our blog post. If you have questions about participating, email them to our team at

As part of the project, I photographed 2000 gravestones myself this month, and I must say it is fascinating and addictive. Join our global initiative too, by clicking here.

Thank you.

Gilad Japhet
Founder & CEO

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