BillionGraves Review 2023

There are hundreds of cemeteries around the world with thousands of gravestones, and keeping track of them is becoming very difficult or near impossible as people do not have the resources to do so. This is where BillionGraves comes in.

This project works on preserving all of the gravestones around the world so that people can keep track of them, and it makes the work of genealogists and family history researchers that much easier. Here is all you need to know:

What is Billion Graves?

BillionGraves is a website accessible to anyone and everyone. It is free, and its goal is to digitally preserve a billion gravestones or more. They are currently the largest resource of GPS cemetery data.

They are the biggest resource for GPS-tagged headstones and all kinds of burial records. They have more than 12 million headstones recorded in their database.

Their whole aim is to preserve all of the world's cemeteries by tracking and keeping data on all of the headstones. All headstones that they have listed have been assigned a GPS location so that they can easily be found by users worldwide for free.

This helps with genealogical research and with preserving family history. A lot of the work is done through volunteers, and they have managed to upload more than 40 million headstone images.

All headstones are GPS tagged and come from 130 different countries and over half a million different cemeteries. BillionGraves also has about 140 million records relating to burial grounds.

More and more people want their burial records to be digitized, along with a copy of obituaries and death certificates, so BillionGraves does just that and digitizes tons of precious records so that they can be published and then found by anyone who is looking for them.

Why Keep Track of Graves?

Most cemeteries today do not have anyone on site who keeps track of the gravestones and manages all the records. Many churches, sextons, and municipalities do not have the means to share or preserve cemetery records.

Another reason is that gravestones all around the world are starting to deteriorate, and erosion is now erasing what is stated on the headstone and erasing the sentimental details of the lives of all of our ancestors.

BillionGraves preserves these details, so if a gravestone gets damaged, worn out, or destroyed, the information on it will still be available on the Billiongraves app or website. A GPS-tagged headstone is easier to find and keep note of.

Genealogy GPS

BillionGraves uses GPS locations to track all headstones, so global positioning systems are a crucial part of their records. Photos and GPS coordinates make proximity searches possible on BillionGraves and is a beautiful way of preserving and honoring.

There are various ways in which proximity searches work. You can find graves nearby to the one you have searched, which can give you insight into familiar names and surnames and give you leads when looking for various family members.

If you happen to find the grave that you are looking for, you can also look further into that particular cemetery. This can be done by selecting the cemetery name and heading to its landing page.

You can also access a satellite map and zoom into it or browse the various images that have been taken of that particular gravestone. The GPS locations also allow for virtual walks through the burial grounds as well as some other additional mapping features.

The GPS is not only a physical locator for all of the gravestones; it also creates evidence that these headstones are each a crucial historical source. They also stick to the genealogical proof standard by citing the image, location, and transcription of the headstone.

Losing a loved one is never easy, and people always want to keep their memory alive as well as have a place where they still feel connected to their families. Therefore, the GPS locations make visiting gravestones that much easier for everyone.

Some cemeteries are centuries old, and it can be challenging to locate them. And finding a particular grave in a cemetery can also be difficult, especially in cemeteries that are relatively big. This is where the GPS coordinates can be of great help.

And now, with more and more headstones becoming unrecognizable, this poses a new challenge. People may not even be able to find them with the help of a GPS. Unfortunately, some coordinates may be off, so finding the grave may require some exploring.

However, if someone else is looking for the grave and finds a much more accurate location, they can log in to their BillionGraves account and move the pin to the correct spot making it much easier to find again.

But all in all, the GPS locations make graves, even ones that are decades old, much easier to find and preserve in a way that was not possible before.

Volunteering - How You Can Help BillionGraves

BillionGraves relies on crowdsourcing and wants as many people around the world to help. This is not a job that can be done by a few people. In order to create such an expansive family history database, a lot of people need to help out.

So what can you do? It is as simple as downloading the BillionGraves app, and it is available on iOS and Android. Once you have the app, you can go to any cemetery and capture images of each grave you walk past.

The app automatically captures and tracks the GPS location, so think about how many records you can preserve in one quick visit to the cemetery. Then you will need to upload the photos, and they will be readily available for people to see and use.

Take pictures

Volunteers take some time to head out and take photos of various headstones. It is crucial to ensure that you capture a clear image of the headstone so that all of the information on it is readable.


Transcribing can be done from anywhere and does not require you to visit the cemetery. It involves transcribing the pictures that have been taken by others so that they can easily be found and searched by people.

This means that you will have to take note of the names, dates (like the birth year), and any other relevant information seen on the headstone.


Researching is another excellent way to help out. It involves searching the database and linking records with various family tree resources.

Group projects

Group projects are also very effective. BillionGraves and their volunteers work on recruiting youth groups, families, scouts, or anyone interested to go on out as a group and capture images of different gravestones.

Not only does this help BillionGraves, but it is also interactive and engaging. People that need to perform court-mandated or school service hours should get involved as every 250 photos taken counts as one hour of service - sounds like a win-win!

It is best to go to cemeteries that seem to have loads of photo requests as they clearly need more help. Volunteers are not required to go around the entire cemetery, but you will be surprised at how much work one gets done in just an hour.

Government agencies and nonprofit organizations are the best at getting people to help out and do some service as they form some excellent group projects.

How to Use BillionGraves

You will need to create an account on the BillionGraves website. It is entirely free and gives you complete access to all of the records and data. You will also be able to edit and add records, as well as communicate with others in the BillionGraves community.

How to sign up

  1. Download the BillionGraves app onto your phone
  2. Create an account or login if you have already done so
  3. You are now ready to take pictures and can start at any time
  4. Once you are done, connect to a wifi network and upload all of the images you took
  5. Now keep taking pictures and helping BillionGraves

How to find a cemetery

  1. Select find cemeteries on your app or the website
  2. Choose one that is close to you and view the map. Take note of the pins that show which graves have been recorded
  3. Ensure you go to a part of the cemetery where little to no photos have been taken to avoid any repeats

Tips for volunteers

It is crucial that you know how to take decent photos.

  • Lighting is essential. Go at a time when the lighting will be good; this is usually in the mornings.
  • Always enhance the inscription on the gravestone. This can be done by cleaning the stone with some water. Do not use anything other than water without permission from the cemetery. You do not want to cause any damage.
  • The photograph should be a close-up shot to ensure it is clear and easy to read.
  • Do not get your feet, reflection, or shadow in the photo.

Adding supporting documentation

Some of the records in the BillionGraves database have various other supporting documents attached to them. This could be obituaries or photos of death certificates. These documents are a great way to keep factual and detailed records of gravestones.

Anyone who has signed up on the app can add written memories or image files to records. Any evidence found relating to a particular headstone can be added to the record. This could be anything from that person's relationships to any other significant facts.

Even information that is not on the gravestone can be added. All and any information can be useful. A lot of the records will also be linked to various other sites. This will makes creating family trees on sources like that much easier.

The BillionGraves App

The app is user-friendly and available to users worldwide. It is available in 25 different languages and also supports Hebrew, Julian, and Gregorian calendars. This means that it is an excellent source for gathering information about other cultures, time periods, and places.

Each gravestone has its own page with a satellite map location, a transcription, and all additional records relating to it.

Photo of Tombstones on Grass Field](/static/img/blog/billion-graves-review-2.jpeg)


How do you use the BillionGraves app?

It is very simple. You can download it from the Android or iOS app store, open it up, and select take photos. The entire app is very straightforward and easy to navigate. Everything else is done automatically, so all you need to do is capture photos and upload them.

How do you transcribe on BillionGraves?

This can be done by logging into your BillionGraves account, going to the volunteer tab, selecting transcribe, and filling out the form that appears. BillionGraves appreciates the help and does not require anything more than having an account with them.

The Bottom Line

The BillionGraves project is an excellent way of keeping history alive as it tracks gravestones that date back centuries ago. It also means that families can find their loved ones and research their past and family heritage.

BillionGraves also makes the research work easier and more convenient as it makes data more readily available and aids in research projects. It keeps the stories of gravestones and people alive by digitalizing and capturing them.

Millions of people have access to the database, and it can benefit people from all over the world.

BillionGraves serves as a resource for researchers and anyone who simply wants to find out about their family. Thus, BillionGraves serves people in multiple ways and is an excellent resource and project to get involved with!

Neil Edwards

Neil Edwards

Genealogist and family-tree research specialist

Neil was born in Shropshire, England surrounded by centuries of living history. His interest in the past has been a lifelong passion leading to undergraduate degrees in both Economic History & Geography and History & Politics.

This interest in history quickly translated to family history when he moved to the U.S. in 2010. It was here that he began working on his own family tree as well as that of his American wife. That research allowed him to gain a wealth of experience working with both U.S. and European genealogical documents and studying their best uses in researching family history.

Following 9 years of honing his genealogical research skills, Neil was proud to have earned a certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University in late 2019. Neil also took part in the research process for a Duke University study into the families of 19th Century UK Members of Parliament.

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