Return of the Genealogy Geek, Part 5: Crowdsourcing: Preserving and Indexing Graves, Holocaust Records, and General Historical Records


ancestry featuredIn addition to having their own site and some sister sites, has their hands in some additional worthy projects. These are available for free to everyone, and they need your help indexing information to make their resources be searchable.

Image: World Memory Project
Image: World Memory Project

World Memory Project

Time is passing, and it’s passing faster than we’d like. The World Memory Project is building the world’s largest online resource for keeping and making available information on Holocaust victims and those persecuted by the Nazis. Together, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and are working to index these records so that they are searchable by others, and so that families can find out what happened to loved ones. These data collections are free to use.

If you want to be a part of this important community, helping to index these digitized records to make them searchable, you can. Go to the World Memory Project page on Ancestry and follow the directions. You will download some software, choose a collection to work on, and follow the directions. If you think you won’t do a good job, don’t worry–experienced keyers will be checking behind you and reviewing your typing. Then, when a collection is completed, it too will be available online for the whole world to use in their research.

This is an important part of our world history. If you have ancestors affected by the Holocaust or Nazi persecution, or if you want to help preserve and make available this information, check out this project.


World Archives Project

Similar to the World Memory Project in use but for a more general audience, the Ancestry World Archives Project allows you to search free records, some from more obscure collections. And, like above, you can help by indexing the digitized records for later searching. The histories of the people will be kept for posterity. You will help keep these stories alive. There are projects all over the world to help with, such as Famine Relief Commission papers from Ireland in the 1800s, Niagara Falls Honeymoon Registries from the second half of the 1900s, or select Holocaust records from Romania in the early 1940s.

Image: Find a Grave

Find a Grave

For some, finding the tombstone for where your ancestor was buried is an important find. Nowadays, many people are cremated. But burial seemed to be the preferred method in the past. Unless you are able to travel a lot (or your family hasn’t moved in generations), however, it’s hard to get images of these burial plots and tombstones.

Find a Grave to the rescue. With 138 million grave records, many with tombstone photos, you can find where your ancestors were buried. Family plots, individual graves, and famous burial sites are all included on this site. If you find these records via the search results on Ancestry, you can link them to your family records. On each record, there is information about the cemetery, a name, usually birth and death years, and more. If someone has made a point to add to the record, sometimes there is a photo of the tombstone, more information about birth and death, and even an obituary or family history of the person. Sometimes more photos are shared as well. Users can also leave virtual tributes on the page.

To find records, search by name, dates, cemeteries, and more. There is also a surname index, which would probably be most helpful for more unusual names. You can also share individual grave records on any one of dozens and dozens of sites. Users can also join the site and help document graves.

If you’re more interested in seeing where famous people are buried, Find a Grave has a large section devoted to famous graves, where you can find the likes of Grace Kelly, George Burns, John Ritter, Jim Morrison, and many more people. You can also browse famous graves by location, claim to fame, or people who were born on or died on certain dates. There are also “Posthumous Reunions” which gather together those who have died that were on the same television shows, movies, music groups, etc. There are also records about interesting monuments and epitaphs.

If you’re interested in participating in the crowdsourcing of important historical records, all of these projects are extremely worthy endeavors. Ancestry continues to partner with groups to work to bring this kind of information to the world.

(Check out Part I of this series, Continues to Expand and Deliver, Part II, Ancestry Academy Teaches You Tips and Helps You Unlock Treasures, Part III, The 1940 Census and, and Part IV, Search for Veterans’ Military Histories on Ancestry’s Fold3.)

Note: I was given access to’s databases and sister sites for the purposes of these reviews.

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