Geneanet (based in France) has reached a major milestone: 5 million photos of graves are now online. Many of these photos are taken in Europe although a few might be from North America.
The Geneanet approach is comparable to, but different from Find-a-Grave and others. At Geneanet, there is always at least one actual photo of a grave or monument in the database, so no copied lists, funeral home announcement scrapings, or blank entries. No one “owns” a grave record at Geneanet; gravestones are available for indexing by everyone, not just the photographer (although as a photographer, you can index your own photos of course). The company discourages the photography of recent graves, out of respect for the deceased.
Here is the announcement from Geneanet:
Geneanet has rich collections of genealogical data in France and Europe. We are excited to share that our “Save Our Graves” project has topped 5 million graves!
These photos are freely accessible, as is all data shared by Geneanet members. Our “Save Our Graves” project simplifies the uploading and indexing of gravesite photos, through a smartphone/tablet app (iOS and Android) and an online indexing tool. The goal is simple: preserve the memory of the departed by indexing their names with gravesite photos.
In many European countries, churchyard space is limited (many churches are hundreds of years old) and large cemeteries are not commonplace. Perpetual care plots are the exception; most plots are leased. It is often the case that plots considered abandoned are dug up and made available for the recently deceased. Any remains found are buried in an ossuary or potter’s field, a common grave. So what is an abandoned plot? In France for example, town halls manage the contact list for cemetery plots. When a lease expires on a grave more than 30 years old, a public notice is shown at the cemetery gate, a letter is sent to the lessor of record, and the grave is marked with a “Lease expired, please contact town hall” notice. With no response within 1 year (this just changed; it was previously 3 years), the plot is emptied for someone else. “Save Our Graves” is an effort to document gravesites which could disappear, if surviving family members have moved and not visited the cemetery for some time. Of course, it is useful to document all graves and monuments: finding the burial place of an ancestor opens new avenues of research, and gravestones often provide vital clues with dates and other family members!
Access the photo collection through the “Search” menu, “Cemeteries and Memorials”: