YOU could help set a world record! How awesome is that!?

The Rescuing Our Roots project is attempting to set a world record by documenting gravestones – and we need your help!

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You are invited to help with these goals:

  • Take 1 million gravestone photos with the BillionGraves app by September 30, 2023
  • Transcribe names and dates from 1 million gravestone images by September 30, 2023

The project was started in September of 2022 and significant progress has already been made! You can click HERE to see the number of photos already uploaded, records transcribed, and participants who have joined the project.

We need to have photos taken more than we need transcriptions done but you are welcome to help with either one.

Click HERE to join the project and find a cemetery where you can help!

One more goal . . .

  • On Sunday, June 25, 2023, the Rescuing Our Roots project needs 10,000 volunteers to upload at least one new gravestone photo within a 24-hour time period. If you join the project, we will send you an email reminder.

There are countdown clocks HERE to track our progress toward these goals.

Help Set a World Record: What is it all About?

Goal #1: Take photos of 1 million gravestones and transcribe 1 million gravestone records before September 30, 2023! You can get started now!

Goal #2: 10,000 participants are needed to set a world record for the most participants to upload gravestones images in 24 hours! On Sunday, June 25th, 2023, we will have exactly 24 hours for each person to upload at least one new photo of a gravestone that has been taken with the BillionGraves app to set a world record.

Help Set a World Record: Why is it Being Done?

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Many of the US states did not begin to keep vital statistics until 1880 or later. That’s right, no birth certificates, no marriage records, and no death certificates until the late 1800s or even early 1900s!

In these cases, a headstone may be the only record of a person’s life on earth!

And headstones don’t last forever! With every passing season, the gravestones undergo weathering and erosion.

Taking a photo of those gravestones will help preserve them for future generations. It preserves history for individuals, families, and entire communities.

Help Set a World Record: Who Can Participate?

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Anyone is welcome to participate in trying to break the world record! Whether you live in Iowa, USA, where this project got its start, or in another state or country from anywhere in the world, we would love to have you join in!

You can do this on your own, with a church congregation, a youth group, a service club, a Scout troop, as an Eagle Scout Project, or with another organization. If you would like help planning a group project, email us at Volunteer@BillionGraves.com.

Click HERE to join the project (on your own or with a group) and find a cemetery where you can help!

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Taking photos in Des Moines, Iowa

If you are old enough to take a photo with a phone, you are old enough to help break this world record!

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Even little ones can help by cleaning off gravestones.

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Some people use soft-bristled brushes or brooms to clean grass, dirt, or lichen off of gravestones. These children from rural Iowa are using corn cobs which also works great!

Help Set a World Record: Where to Go

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Click HERE to find a cemetery where photos are still needed in your area. Or use the BillionGrave app on your smartphone to find a cemetery.

Help Set a World Record: How is it Done?

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Getting Started

  • Download the BillionGraves app to your smartphone from your app store. 
  • Create a free account on the app or at BillionGraves.com.
  • Open the BillionGraves app as soon as you arrive at the cemetery since the GPS feature will work best if the app has about 5 minutes to connect before you begin taking photos, especially if you are taking photos in a remote area.
  • At the cemetery, check the bottom of your screen to see if the name of the cemetery matches your current location. If the wrong cemetery name is listed, tap on it, and then select the correct cemetery name. 
  • From the main screen of the app, click on “take pictures” to begin taking photos in your local cemetery. The GPS coordinates will be recorded automatically.
  • Go up and down the rows, taking pictures of each gravestone until you have completed an entire section or the entire cemetery. Keep moving at a quick pace. If you take 1 photo every 15 seconds you will have taken almost 250 photos in an hour!    
  • If you are working with another person, leap-frog over each other’s rows until you have completed a section.
  • When you are finished, connect to Wi-Fi and plug in your phone. From the main screen of the BillionGraves app, tap on “photos”. When the orange button that says “upload” appears, tap on it to submit your gravestone photos.
  • Repeat! 🙂

Click HERE to join the project and find a cemetery where you can help!

Help Set a World Record: You are Going to Change Lives!

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When you do a large project like this, it impacts lives. Families become closer and stronger as they work side-by-side.

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Upload Your Photos

  • When you are finished taking photos for the day, plug your phone in and connect to WiFi. 
  • ​From the main screen of the app, tap on “Photos”. An orange button that says “upload” will appear. Tap on it. 
  • The number of photos you took will start to go down. Leave the app open until all the photos upload. 
  • If the upload is interrupted by a phone call or other event, the app may stop. To restart the uploading process, just tap “cancel” and then tap “upload” again. 

Your photos will be sent to the BillionGraves database to help families find their ancestors and bless generations to come!

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Option to Transcribe

After you tap the orange upload button a pop-up will appear that says, “Would you like to transcribe your own images?” You can select “yes” or “no”.

If you select “yes,” you will have 14 days to transcribe the names and dates from your own images using the BillionGraves website before they are released to the public queue.

If you select “no,” then other volunteers will transcribe the data from your photos.

Got Questions?

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If you have questions or would like help planning a group project, email us at Volunteer@BillionGraves.com.

Rescuing Our Roots Partners

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The Rescuing Our Roots project partners are BillionGraves, JustServe, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, FamilySearch, and The History Center of Iowa.

Many thanks to all who have helped to get this project off the ground and many thanks to all of YOU who are joining this effort to help set a world record!!

Happy Cemetery Hopping!

Cathy Wallace