Ancestry.com this week announced the acquisition of Find-a-Grave. Find-a-Grave has been a volunteer-led effort that has provided grave information for individuals all over the United States. Through the efforts of their volunteers they have amassed the largest collection of grave information online in the United States. Millions of visitors a day visit Find-a-Grave to see photos of the headstones of their ancestors and to see transcribed information from the head stones on birth, death and other family information. Find-a-Grave has also offered a service where they would match up an individual who needed a picture of a headstone that was far distant from them with a volunteer in that area. A request could be put online for a picture of a headstone. Volunteers would then agree to take the picture from a cemetery in the area in which they live and would post the picture online. It is one of the best examples of volunteer service in the genealogical community. The site has been free and Ancestry has indicated that it will remain so. They have also committed to providing a mobile app to make capturing headstone pictures and information much simpler. This is the latest in a long string of acquisitions from Ancestry. The last acquisition like this (a volunteer-led, free website) was RootsWeb. The RootsWeb acquisition was met with mixed reviews and to some extent RootsWeb has lost prominence over the years as volunteers have taken their contributions elsewhere. Very few enhancements were made to RootsWeb after the acquisition from Ancestry. It is likely, however, that Ancestry will continue to enhance Find-a-Grave. It is already the best place online to find United States cemetery information and Ancestry’s investment is likely to only make this better. The users of the site will be a good targeted audience for Ancestry to advertise their services and the efforts of the community will add to the records available on the Ancestry site. Overall, I believe that this is a good thing for the genealogical community. Find-a-Grave has had limited funding and the website has seen few significant improvements over the years. Ancestry’s much deeper pockets and development expertise should be able to take Find-a-Grave to the next level. You can find Find-a-Grave online at findagrave.com.
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