Monday, October 29, 2012

Always Request a Photograph

Disclaimer: I LOVE Find-A-Grave. I think it is a wonderful resource but you must evaluate everything you find on F-A-G with a skeptical eye.

I have told you before how important it is to request photos for anyone on F-A-G that you are researching if there isn't a photo already. Here are some examples why. I requested 15 photographs of grave markers at the Rachels - Screws Family Cemetery in Jefferson County, Georgia. A wonderful volunteer photographer named "Platypus" went out and got all my photos for me. Out of the 15 requests there were 4 errors found when the photos were compared to the information on the memorials. That is a pretty high error rate. If there is no photo, I do not use Find-A-Grave as a source.

These are all simple data entry errors which are very easy to make. I will be sending the person managing these memorials a request for an edit.

Always, always, always request a photograph if there isn't one.

Copyright © 2012 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. Great advice! I found my grandmother on Find A Grave listed in the wrong cemetery with the wrong death date. I contacted the submitter and she did take the posting down.

  2. I used these as an example because I had requested a bunch of photos at the same time for the same cemetery so it would show just how common errors are. I see this all the time when I request photos. Right now I have 88 outstanding photo requests that I am still waiting on.

  3. I use Find-a-Grave all the time. Just last week, I found members of my Bown family in Bridgeport, Connecticut, listed as Brown.

    This problem of typos and misreads isn't new. In years gone by, we had to use typescripts of stone readings. I remember requesting an act of kindness in Pike County, Illinois, as the cemetery reading was way different from what I could find out. The kindness person first sent me the typewritten transcript but I asked her to check the stone. She did, and even she was appalled by the change of Elizabeth to Clarissa and the wrong dates. At least with photos we get to make our own choices and opinions.

    Great posting. Thank you.

  4. Thank you for your kind comments, Barbara. I have to say I learned this one the hard way. Many years ago I used a cemetery book for Lamar County, Mississippi as a source. In 2002 I was able to go to Mississippi and actually visit these cemeteries and I couldn't believe how many things I found that didn't match. Human error is inevitable so a photo is the best way to go. One thing that I have found that makes me very sad is when I find a listing in an old cemetery book and then either I or someone else goes to the cemetery to snap a photo and the marker is gone. This is why it is important to get the photos now when we still can.