Paying It Forward with an app

Trekking through a cemetery in December is not something one can normally do in the Midwest. But this past week I spent a few minutes in the oldest cemetery in St. Joseph, MO, taking photos of headstones. I do this to ???????pay it forward???????? for genealogy help I????????ve received over the years. It also combines my interests in genealogy, photography and technology.

To do this I use an iPhone app from, a company with a mission. Their aim is to photograph and transcribe headstones throughout the world for family historians. The app for iPhone and Android uses the phone????????s camera to take photos of the tombstone and uploads the photo to BillionGraves???????? database. There the photo awaits volunteer transcribers to enter the data into a searchable database. This makes family data available with just a few keystrokes instead of a journey of many miles. The program also uses Google maps to locate the cemetery with the GPS coordinates attached to the photos uploaded.

I????????ve added small rural cemeteries to the database and my families???????? tombstones. When logging into BillionGraves this week I saw that someone, or perhaps a team of people, has recently added over 1500 headstones at the National Cemetery at Ft. Leavenworth, KS. Another worthwhile project and hundreds of those photos are waiting for transcription.

The program is free and can be searched by going to and creating an account and then searching. The genealogy treasure trove of family information, headstone photos, and cemetery location and satellite pictures is available to all. I????????m hoping someone in Kentucky will find this app and take photos of my ancestors buried there. This simple app makes it possible for all genealogists to ???????pay it forward.????????


I have been involved with publishing and marketing for the past 32 years. I enjoy helping people find ways to share their voice. I have found ways to do this through the written word, articles and various media outlets. is an avenue to help everyone have a voice who wants a voice. If you have questions about how you can have your voice heard, I would be happy to schedule a time to consult with you.

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply