Monday, February 13, 2017

BillionGraves Adds Family Trees

I visited the BillionGraves exhibit at RootsTech 2017 over the weekend and picked up their advertising.  They introduced the BillionGraves Tree (, saying:

"We've partnered with FamilySearch to deliver a breakthrough in genealogical research: BillionGraves Tree.

*  Connect with the FamilySearch Family Tree
*  Find headstone records for your whole family tree
*  Finally break through your search "walls"
*  Automatic photo requests
*  Enter info once, and it syncs automatically in both places"

1)  I went to the website and saw:

I need to sign into FamiilySearch in order to access the FamilySearch Family Tree.

Apparently, they are planning to enable access to MyHeritage and Findmypast trees "soon."

2)  After logging into FamilySearch, the BillionGraves Tree was filled in (it took about one minute) from information in FamilySearch Family Tree):

There are four colored icons on the persons on my BillionGraves tree:

*  Green = Complete
*  Orange = waiting for a picture
*  Red = possible matches
*  Gray = needs research.

I had mostly Red = possible matches, probably based on information in the Burial Fact in the FamilySearch Family Tree.  I had several Gray = needs research on my tree, probably because there are no burial facts in the FamilySearch Family Tree.  On the tree above, I have one Orange icon and one Green icon because I tested this out before I wrote about it.

3)  I clicked on my grandmother, Alma Bessie Richmond and saw:  

The popup box said "Our record finder will guide you through a step by step guide to find the final resting place of Alma Bessie Richmond."  

4)  I clicked on the green box to "Get Started:"

The system searched and did not find a BillionGraves headstone for Alma Bessie Richmond.  That is probably because the name on the headstone is "Alma Bessie Seaver" rather than Richmond (which is logical because that is her married name and the name she had at death).

5)  The screen above has a green "Search Other Sources" button and an orange "Search for Matches."  I clicked on "Search Other Sources" and saw:  

I clicked on "Find Cemetery" button on the left sidebar on the screen above, and a list of cemeteries in Leominster, Massachusetts (which is in the burial Fact on the left-hand sidebar):

I happened to know that my grandmother is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Leominster, so I scrolled down and saw that cemetery.

6)  I clicked on "Accept Cemetery" for that cemetery, and saw the screen below:

The screen above says:  "Now that we know where Alma Bessie Richmond Seaver was buried, we will notify users near Evergreen Cemetery to go take a picture of her headstone."

There was a comment box so I added the hopefully helpful statement "headstone reads Alma Bessie Seaver."  I clicked on the light blue "Save Notes."

7)  When I go back to my BillionGraves Tree the icon for my grandmother now is Orange, signifying that a photo has been requested:

8)  Some thoughts:

a)  BillionGraves really needs to search on all of the known names - in this case:

***  Alma Bessie Richmond (maiden name)
***  Alma Seaver (married name)
*** Alma R. Seaver (married name)
*** Alma B. Seaver (married name)
***  Bessie Seaver (married name)
***  Bessie A. Seaver (married name)
*** Bessie R. Seaver (married name)
***  Alma Bessie Seaver (married name)
***  If there was more than one marriage, then that surname with the different given names should also be searched.

There may be a headstone on BillionGraves for Alma Bessie Seaver - I haven't checked.

b)  This search and find or request a photo process takes a lot of time - the reaction to a click is not instantaneous - it often takes 5 to 10 seconds.  It took me over a minute to get through the process above.  That is frustrating for most users accustomed to times of less than one second.  Perhaps when the tree feature comes out of Beta it will be faster.

c)  Why does the Tree have only four generations?  I have cemetery records back to the early 1600s for some of my ancestors.  Will the BillionGraves Tree be able to go back further in time?

d)  What about other family members - my ancestors siblings and children who are not my ancestors?  Will the BillionGraves Tree be able to include them also?

e)  It is fairly common that persons are buried in a cemetery not in the town or city that they died in.  Does a user have to pick a specific cemetery, or is there a way to request a photo in all of the cemeteries in a town or a neighboring town?  Perhaps a search in the main section of the BillionGraves should be an option.

f)  This is a nice feature in BillionGraves, but it needs work.  Again, it's in Beta so perhaps it will improve.


The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2017, Randall J. Seaver

Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the "Comments" link at the bottom of each post.  Share it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or Pinterest using the icons below.  Or contact me by email at

No comments: