RootsTech 2015

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

BillionGraves.com and MyHeritage.com Team Up to Preserve the World's Cemeteries

In a press release dated 19 February 2014, BillionGraves.com and MyHeritage.com announced a joint global initiative to digitally preserve world's cemeteries. In an email from Daniel Horowitz, Chief Genealogist and Translation Manager, MyHeritage.com said:
As we know, gravestones are very important for genealogy due to the rich information they contain, such as names, dates and biographical details. But there are thousands of cemeteries worldwide whose gravestones have never been documented nor has their information been made available or searchable online.

In addition, time is chipping away at the gravestones and many are becoming unreadable over the years.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be working with our global community to preserve and document gravestones worldwide, for future generations, using the BillionGraves app. The app uses patent-pending technology to let users photograph and document gravestones, and, with the help of MyHeritage, the app will be available in 25 languages, and will support Gregorian, Hebrew and Julian dates. The app also records the GPS locations of gravestones to make them easy to find, and volunteers can easily see which areas of any cemetery remain undocumented, to maximize efficiency and avoid duplication.
 All of these records will be available free on the BillionGraves.com website and on MyHeritage's search engines for historical records, SuperSearch, Record Matching and Record Detective. Here is the substance of the press release:
TEL AVIV, Israel & LEHI & KAYSVILLE, Utah – Wednesday 19 February, 2014 - MyHeritage, the popular online family history network, has partnered with BillionGraves to launch a global crowdsourcing initiative to preserve the world’s cemeteries. 
BillionGraves is a free iOS and Android application that lets users easily photograph and document gravestones, providing an important source of information for people intrigued about their ancestors and family history. Using patent-pending technology, BillionGraves is the only mobile application of its kind. With the help of MyHeritage, the app will be available in 25 languages, and will support Gregorian, Hebrew and Julian dates. It records the GPS locations of gravestones to make them easy to find and volunteers can easily see which areas of any cemetery remain undocumented, to maximize efficiency and avoid duplication. The gravestone photographs are then transcribed by volunteers on the BillionGraves website, resulting in searchable digital data. 
With a community of tens of millions of family history enthusiasts all around the world, MyHeritage brings a vast global volunteer base for collecting and transcribing gravestone photos using the BillionGraves application. 
All records collected are made available for free on the BillionGraves and MyHeritage websites. The partnership with BillionGraves brings major benefits for families using MyHeritage to explore their past, as all users will receive free Record Matches – alerts about gravestone records that have been automatically matched to their ancestors, making it easy to make new discoveries. In addition to the photographs and GPS coordinates of the gravestones, an index of corresponding information, such as dates of birth and death, close family relatives and epitaphs, is made available to search for free on MyHeritage's search engine for historical records, SuperSearch
“We’re thrilled to embark on this global initiative with BillionGraves", said Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO of MyHeritage. “Gravestones are among the most valuable information sources for family history research, and although there are many thousands of cemeteries worldwide, most of them have never been documented, and their information is not available online.  Time is chipping away at the gravestones and many are becoming unreadable over the years, so it’s up to our generation to preserve them.” 
“We’re delighted to work with MyHeritage on digitizing the world’s cemeteries”, said Hudson Gunn, President of BillionGraves. “At BillionGraves we are working to provide a comprehensive family history database for records and images from the world’s cemeteries—but it’s not something we can do alone. With MyHeritage’s support in mobilizing its massive user community and working with us to launch in 25 languages, we’ll be able to provide incredible value for millions of families and preserve this valuable data for generations to come.” 
Over the coming weeks, MyHeritage users will receive documentation about the project and will be able to download the application via a special website designed for this project. 
Watch for a special offer coming soon from MyHeritage.com on my blog.

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