April 27, 2012  - by 

Have you heard of the BillionGraves initiative? If not, you certainly will. The goal of a valuable partner of FamilySearch, AppTime (who has created the website and smartphone app, both for Apple iPhone and Google Android models*), is to provide an expansive family history database for records and images from the world’s cemeteries, all tagged with GPS locations.

This allows users to search for names of ancestors using a variety of search fields and then find the exact physical location of graves bearing those names using satellite technology. BillionGraves is counting on volunteers to download the smartphone camera app, make sure the GPS feature is activated, take photos of grave markers, upload images, and help with indexing. The company is off to a great start!

On Friday, April 20, 2012, the Product Engineering and Product Management Divisions at FamilySearch conducted a BillionGraves service project at the Murray City Cemetery. Over 200 volunteers met at the stake center across the street at 9:00 a.m. for a continental breakfast, instruction, and team assignments before 30 groups headed to the cemetery! When the work wrapped up, they met back at the church for lunch and a guest speaker before calling it a day.

It was a great turn-out, and teams were able to take pictures of all the graves in the entire cemetery! Over 14,000! Here are two images from the website that show the before and after tags that were available—just to illustrate how much work can be accomplished by an organized group.

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