Saturday, March 3, 2012

Find A Grave - Second Thoughts

Find A Grave has long been a favorite genealogy site for online research. It was thrilling to type in the name of an ancestor and, with a click, the tombstone, complete with name and dates, appeared before your eyes. Many of us signed on to record tombstones in our community to help other genealogists. This was genealogy sharing at its best. Everybody won.

But things changed. No tombstone? That's all right. We will just list him where we think he was buried. As long as you have the name and approximate dates, that will work. So what if the tombstone only gives the years of birth and death? We will just add the months and days and everyone will be happy. Who cares if the name on the tombstone is A.B. Brown. We know he was was really Albert Bray Brown so that is how we will list his name. Sigh

The practice of linking to other family members is especially distressing. No proof is required and apparently there is no way to opt out. This is not the way I do genealogy.

As a novice genealogist many years ago, I was taught to record only what I can see. It was not permissible to add anything. What has happened to integrity in genealogy? Have standards changed so drastically? I don't think so, but I do believe in order to "help" others and make genealogy easier for everyone, we tend to "dumb down" the research process. This is a poor substitute for sound, documented research.

I am disappointed in Find A Grave. It started out as such a great idea, but got lost along the way. I am re-thinking my position on submitting records to Find A Grave. The value of this site has been diluted, in my opinion.


Life Goes On said...

I think find a grave is great but information needs to be recorded as seen on the tombstone. There is or should be a spot to add any information for other family members like what his name is really. Grave

Nanakat said...

If the information is in the sexton's records, it should be okay to add it, but there should be something to indicate that.

I discovered something worse, however, and I'm not sure what to do about it. My g-g-grandmother's grave is listed as being in the Kuttawa cemetery, when I know (having seen the tombstone myself) that she is buried in the New Bethel cemetery. They're both in Lyon County, but they are not the same cemetery.

Haven't tried to do anything about it, though. Suggestions would be appreciated.

Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG said...

You can contact the submitter and tell them the info on the burial is incorrect and should be corrected. Good luck and thanks for your comments.

LSW said...

Yes, I too am having some problems with FindaGrave. I've had so many "corrections" submitted that are questionable and I've had information submitted that I personally know there is no documentation to substantiate. On the other hand, I've had folks send me obituaries to add which are terrific additions. Then there is that relationship thing. Grrr. I am so tired of being hassled to add relationships to the hundreds of entries I made BEFORE the relationship option was available. Still, I love being able to get a photo of a distant grave I will never be able to visit. I have such mixed feelings.

Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG said...

Cindy, I love obituaries, too, but they are not to be used without permission from whomever wrote them. Obituaries are under copyright by the newspaper, too, if I am not mistaken. According to Find A Grave's FAQ, you can give the name and date of the newspaper if you do not have permission to use the obit.

I'm in the same position you are regarding the emails about adding/editing info and linking. Find A Grave has gone amuck.

Anonymous said...

Well written - well said!

Janet said...

I've been meaning to comment on this post as it really got me thinking. I've since changed my Find a Grave profile to note that I will add alternate info only to the notes section, not to the headstone data, unless I've made a transcription error, in order to maintain integrity.

I view Find a Grave as a tool, like another other (e.g., the fed population census), that is not immune to human error. Despite its faults, I still think it's great for corroborating information. I encourage researchers to continue volunteering while adhering to standards and properly citing their data--even if others don't!

Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG said...

As long as Find A Grave allows links from one tombstone to another with no way to verify the info, the value is weakened, in my opinion. It has the potential to be a great resource but not in its current state.