Where does Find A Grave get its information?

+9 votes
Find A Grave sometimes provides day-month-year birthdates for people, and names/dates for family members, ie spouses, children, etc., but this is not information from the gravestone.  I haven't found source information on Find-A-Grave.  How do we know if we can trust this information, if there is no source confirming it?
in Policy and Style by Living Kirkley G2G3 (3.0k points)
They clearly get lists of interments from the relevant cemetery authority in many cases, however these are often the date of burial, not death. Other times it's just someone's unsourced family tree.

Find a Grave has the facility to flag dates as burial dates but in my experience this rarely happens. Bottom line is if there's no photo, you can't trust the date, but at least it can make finding a death notice a lot easier.
Where is this located? I haven't ever seen this. Usually there's a note in the bio but that's it.
I've had a bit of a look but I can't find any examples. I can't remember exactly where it showed the information, but it was up with all the other core information, not in the notes. Seem to recall it was in brackets after all the other information.

When I eventually started stumble across another one I'll post a link here.

7 Answers

+10 votes
I see this same question has been asked before.  To be more specific about my question, if WikiTree (e.g. weekly challenge) asks us to correct, say a birthdate, in one of our profiles because it conflicts with Find A Grave, it sounds like WikiTree prefers having Find a Grave as a source for a specific date, rather than having a "about XXXX" birthdate because there is no other reliable source for the dd-month-yr birthdate.  Is that right?

I.e.  we should use a Find A Grave date if it is more specific than an "about XXXX" date, when there is no better/more reliable source for the date?
by Living Kirkley G2G3 (3.0k points)
I see this comment has also already been addressed - okay, I'll check the G2G feed before posting more questions.
Below your original question, here, you should see the option to Close this one.

It's a great question! I hope everything at the other post helped. I have an account with them for the very reason of wanting some of my concerns with sourcing to be addressed. When a profile gets mangled in one place, it's likely to propagate like weeds. So many of us are in search of truth, but sadly, the process of applying validity tests and adding sources is overlooked when a nugget of "new information" is found, that it's very easy to just repeat it without questioning.

The fact of the strong emphasis and requirement of sourcing applies at WikiTree, plus the fact of managing One Tree from which all relatives are intertwined is why I am sold on WikiTree.

To get specific on your query, though, presumptively a specific DD/MM/YYYY on Find A Grave would come from a birth or death registration/certificate, an SSA record for later records, and in those fortunate cases, an actual visited tombstone. As we all know, tombstones aren't always that specific, and for some, tombstones don't even exist. In modern times, cremation has been gaining acceptance, so unless a memorial stone is erected, official records would be the only source.

Best of luck in your continued research. I am glad that you have chosen WikiTree as your favored repository.
If there isn't a source, don't trust Find a Grave.  Just mark the "suggestion" as False, say Find a Grave doesn't list a source, and enjoy the rest of your life.
+14 votes
FindaGrave is a collaborative site, so the quality of the information on any profile is only as good as the research done by the person who developed the profile.
by Lynda Crackett G2G6 Pilot (685k points)
Fann, Thanks for the best answer star.
+17 votes
Personally, I find "Find A Grave" has become no different to Ancestry/My Heritage Trees etc. where anyone can add information without sources. It is no longer just a repository of gravestones and memorial inscriptions which it was initially. As such, I don't believe that an unsourced Find A Grave entry is any more valuable unless you can find further primary documentation (such as a birth certificate to validate birth dates or census records to validate relationships).

I have found several Find a grave profiles that have people connected to the wrong spouses etc. so I don't use Find a grave as a source. Even a picture of a memorial stone doesn't guarantee that the person was actually buried in that plot as many people's names are added to relatives gravestones who are in fact buried elsewhere. The only real source is the grave register which will give the name, burial date and plot number.
by Michelle Wilkes G2G6 Pilot (176k points)
Any user generated site is subject to having wrong and right information. In the Data Doctors group recently someone posted about a merge request that got declined. The problem was that the profile said someone born in Norway in the 1600's had a death location in the Congo. His mum was supposedly born in Hawaii, USA and died in Norway.

What puts Wikitree apart from the other sites is we have groups who look for sources and who ensure there are not data issues and we aim for one profile per person. Yes sometimes what is suggested for research isn't right but that would be a minority of times.

Any site can have wrong information coming from it even Birth, Death and Marriages primary sites. My Grandfathers birth certificate has a False date on it and his death certificate has the wrong parents on it
Graver registers are usually not public knowledge and the specific property of cemetery managers.
+8 votes
I'm a Find A Grave member also.   I've submitted  HUNDREDS of edits to memorials and have never been asked by a memorial manager for the source.  (This includes adding parents, spouses, birth dates, death dates, the full gambit of information posted on Find A Grave.)  All my suggestions have been accepted.   In about 1% of the cases,  the memorial manager will post a note acknowledging that they received the information from me.  While I had sources for edits I proposed,  they don't know that.

I.E.   If you don't see the headstone photo (keeping in mind headstones frequently have incorrect information), or the cemetery records don't support the data.... I consider it  unsourced.
by Peggy McReynolds G2G6 Pilot (477k points)
I often ask for sources for edits, especially if I can't independently confirm the details.
+3 votes
Either from cemetery transcriptions or obituaries and family knowledge. I also cross-reference where possible with public records.
by Aaron Gullison G2G6 Pilot (198k points)
+2 votes
I have proof some people on Find a Grave get their information from Ancestry!

I had an ancestor and back when my Ancestry tree was public, I put in a guesstimated birth place for her with a ?.  

About six months later, I was reviewing my information on her, and there, on FAG, was the birth place I had added complete with the ?.

I immediately removed it, and corrected it with new information on Ancestry.

And it did get corrected on FAG : )
by Wendy Fromme G2G6 Mach 2 (26.9k points)
+5 votes
Find-A-Grave would be a wonderful resource IF it wasn't such a competition to see how many graves you can get under your name.

I post obituaries in Find-A-Grave, which is where they are supposed to get their information. However, there are people that go to the cemeteries, take pictures of the stones, and then have each of the graves in their names. It is like pulling teeth to get them to put the correct information on the "profile" since they are then the "administrator".

An example, my grandmother died 2009. I have submitted her obituary no less than 7 times. I have even asked that her profile be turned over to me to maintain. Finally two months ago, her obituary was added.

There are other times when I have submitted information that I know was correct, when they have incorrect information, and they never change the information. For example - family members. I know when they died - but they post the incorrect information, which is also confirmed by their head stone.

In our county, there are three or four people that have taken over the photography of the graves. This is where I feel Find-A-Grave has gone completely out of control.

It shouldn't be a competition, but left to family members to complete the information correctly.

If you need more information, I will gladly present it to you.
by Cheryl Hess G2G Astronaut (1.8m points)
edited by Cheryl Hess

My experience with Find A Grave is similar to yours.

However,  this past week I was working on my WikiTree suggestions and submitted about 20 recommended changes to Find A Grave.... much to my surprise most were answered within 2 days.... I only have one that's not been taken care of.   Either I was incredibly lucky,  or Find A Grave has improved their suggestion/edit process.   (In the past,  a FAG manager wouldn't even receive email if they got a recommended edit.)

But bottom line,   use the information with caution.
You are so correct Peggy, and very lucky with your last 20 recommendations.

I have submitted 10 recommendations in the last week with regards to incorrect information on follow-ups to Wiki-Tree.

No answers so far, but I think they have 30 days.

Have a great week-end, and God Bless!
Recently, I've started getting emails that some of my corrections were "auto accepted".
The auto-accepted means that Find-A-Grave has received your correction. (That is an e-mail that is automatically generated when a person makes an edit). Now you have to wait for an e-mail that tells you, your correction has been completed.

I always save the auto accepted, and go back later to check to make sure that the corrections have been made.

Congratulations - you are on your way to correcting Find-A-Grave.

God Bless you and have a wonderful Friday night.

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