Mobile Monday--BillionGraves revisited

So I've been going out and having fun working with BillionGraves and the BillionGraves app, adding and transcribing the local cemeteries in my community. I haven't had a lot of time to spend in either cemetery doing work--less than an hour each time, but that's the great thing about this hobby. It doesn't take a lot of time to make a difference.

None of the cemeteries in my community have been added to BillionGraves yet, which means I have my pick of the cemeteries. It also means that I have a lot to photograph and transcribe. 

I transcribe the way most people enjoy dental work.

So I've decided to simply make a part-time job out of adding all the cemeteries in my community, and taking billions of pictures galore. And also, transcribing as little of it as possible.

But that doesn't mean that my trips to the cemetery have gone without hitches. There are many ways and places to screw up when you are first beginning to do this. So let me help you have the most fun experience possible going out to play in the cemetery.

FIRST: You need a kit. A BillionGraves kit. And in this kit, you need the following things: 


The BillionGraves app uses GPS technology to plot the exact location of the graves in these cemeteries. GPS technology eats your cell phone battery for breakfast. The upload feature eats it for lunch. And if you're dumb like me, and have an older Android phone and don't turn the app off, that will eat the rest of your battery for dinner.

A bottle of water
This is not for drinking. It is for washing mud off the headstones.

A brush 
This is for brushing dry dirt off the headstones so you don't sit there like a loony trying to chip it off with a stick. Also, poop. Of bird, of dog, of any variety.

I was going to recommend touch screen gloves. 
If you live in a cold climate like I do, you will quickly find yourself wanting these, or some variation of them. But then I realized that I'm too poor and miserly to spend what these cost for a pair of gloves.

So, here's my real recommendation.

Touch Screen Stylus
Stick with rubber thing on the end? 
I have no idea what to call it. But you want it.
Use whatever stinking pair of gloves you want, and buy one of these things for less than $5. I got a two-pack of a big one and a mini one at Five Below for $3.
(Man, do I love me some Five Below!)

Wax paper and Crayons
To accentuate hard to read information on a gravestone. 

To mark which rows or sections you've already done. Preferably mark on the road or a tree, whatever surface that doesn't involve writing on the stones wherever possible.

And, lastly...


I custom designed this on just to put the idea out. I'm sure you can find a local place to make it for you much cheaper than they do. Personally, I want it in big block letters on an orange shirt that people can read from a distance. That way, no one needs to wonder why I'm taking pictures of the headstones, and they can stop staring at me.

(Especially the ones letting their dogs poop in the cemetery. Trust me pal. If someone deserves a dirty look, it's you.)

SECOND: If you launch the camera app, and the cemetery listed on the screen is not the cemetery you are standing in, this is not the end of the world. Take a second, look in the list of cemeteries in the app, and see if your cemetery is listed. If it isn't, add it. THEN take pictures. If you take pictures and it's still listing the wrong cemetery, don't worry about it. It uploads the images to the right place just fine. But do investigate and make sure everything is working properly and squared away. It's a simple matter of double checking your work that can save people a lot of headache down the road.

THIRD: Be sure not to take pictures of useless things. Headstones that you can't read in person are going to be just as bad for a transcriber. Don't waste your time taking a picture of something that a transcriber is only going to resent you for adding.

There are ways, however, to help in this situation. And if your mama never taught you how to act in a cemetery, lemme break it down for you.

  • DO NOT WRITE ON HEADSTONES IN SHARPIE MARKER. I don't know who is worse, this guy or dog poop man. I'm just as likely to come up behind either one and kick him. 
  • If the headstone is hard to read, get some wax paper and crayons and do a rubbing. If you must mark directly onto a headstone, use chalk and wash it off.
  • Be conscious of where you park. If the cemetery is constructed in a loop, and you are blocking someone else's way to come it or get out, don't park there.
  • Essentially, do everything you can to leave the place better than you found it--and don't do anything to make it worse.
Being in a cemetery is a great experience for amateur and experienced genealogists alike. BillionGraves is an excellent tool for both to not only give back to their communities, but to deepen their love for helping the forgotten to be remembered for generations to come.

Happy hunting!