Gramps: Find a Grave

Find a Grave provides a wealth of information that won’t be found anywhere else. You never know if searching for an ancestor will return a match, giving you the cemetery where your ancestor was buried. Often you’ll also find the birth and death years (possibly even dates), and checking the cemetery listing may return a few of your ancestor’s relatives. Even better, some pages will include a photograph of the gravestone. How should you manage this wealth of information in Gramps?

Citing sources

The most important thing, after the information itself, is citing your source of this information.

For everything from Find a Grave, I have a source with the title “Find a Grave”.

Citing Find a Grave

For a citation, the Volume/Page should be the page’s memorial’s ID. Any relevant information (birth, death, biography, comments, relatives, cemetery) should be put into a note on the citation.

I also like to add an “Internet” item with the “Type” as “Find a Grave”, and description as “Memorial for [Name]”.

These citations should be “Very Low” confidence. If there is no photograph, you don’t have any visual proof that the gravestone is there, or what is written on it. I’ve added Find a Grave entries myself with the cemetery information based on what relatives or obituaries state, but it’s possible to receive misinformation, or outdated information in the case of a person who’s been relocated to another grave.

Citing the cemetery

You should also cite the cemetery where the memorial is claimed to be from.

The cemetery citation should have a Volume/Page with the name on the headstone and its plot number (if known), to make the citation easy to distinguish from others under the source.

If there is no photograph, this citation should also be “Very Low” confidence, and you may wish to add a shared note with a disclaimer stating the information is from Find a Grave. If I have a photograph, I like to use “Gravestone for” in the description, and if I don’t have a photograph, I’ll use “Find a Grave memorial for”.

If there is a photograph, the confidence may be higher, so long as you trust the photograph is from a gravestone in the cemetery the memorial page claims it’s from. I choose to treat the latter as “Normal” confidence, but it’s easy to argue using a higher or lower confidence level.

Keep in mind, a gravestone may have inaccurate information engraved on it. My great grandfather Jack Winter’s gravestone states his birth year as 1900 because his wife didn’t know he was actually born in 1899.

Adding the gravestone photograph

The gravestone photograph should also be saved. Clicking on photograph on the page brings another page with a larger version of the photo. Click on this photo for the largest version available, if there is a larger version available.

Save the photograph in the appropriate location on your computer, and then add it to the citation’s gallery. Check the name of the photographer, and add a note to the gallery image with a comment along the lines of, “Photograph by John Smith.” The name should be linked to the photographer’s Find a Grave profile page. This note can be shared across all photographs taken by this person.


Find a Grave includes information you may not be able to find elsewhere on an ancestor, but you must remember to treat this information with a low confidence level.

By including cemeteries as sources, you gain the advantage of being able to easily find all relatives who are in the same cemetery. If you ever visit the cemetery yourself, you’ll know who to be on the look for. (Checking Place references for the cemetery works for this, as well.)

(This article refers to Gramps 3.4.1-1.)

September 21, 2012Permalink