Mastering Genealogical Proof–Find-A-Grave

There was going to be a discussion about how to cite a Find-A-Grave entry in the Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group on 21 July 2013, but the time ran out. This is not a homework assignment for Chapter 4, but merely how I handle this topic.

Since is now indexing the Find-A-Grave website, I have had some success if search results leading me to a link on The results look like this:


The name has been blanked out, but those are the details from They provide a link to “Go to website

There is a lot of discussion about the use of an “Index” or to Cite and index. What I have learned from this study of Mastering Genealogical Proof is that we should not use an index in a proof document. I totally agree with that. That said, it does not tell me that I should cite that, as a source in my genealogy datebase management software. I have chosen to do that and here is the format of my Citation, as created with the use of a Template in my program.

For this purpose, I have chosen to use an Online Database; Cemetery Derivative template, the result is: Web, “New Jersey, Find A Grave Index, 1664-2011”, database, ( Database online; accessed 20 Sep 2012. Index for Henry Russell Worthington, Jr.

Following the link from Ancestry to Find-A-Grave, or since I created the memorial on Find-A-Grave, with my photograph, I want to cite that as well. Here is a link to that memorial page:

Information from that web page is entered into my database, with the following Citation:

Russ Worthington, “Find-A-Grave”, database, Find A Grave ( Henry Russell Worthington (1916-2006) – Find A Grave Memorial# 49480185; accessed 03/08/2010.

That is using the same Template as the one from Perhaps the memorial number is not important here, but knowing the memorial number on the Find-A-Grave website, makes searching for, or getting directly to that memorial page easier. It’s a search field on the Find-A-Grave website.

What about the photograph that is there? In this case, it’s mine and I could publish it in my Ancestry Member Tree, online at However, I have a policy for all of my Find-A-Grave photographs to mark them private in my genealogy database, so they will NOT appear in my Ancestry Member Tree. I can see it locally in my database, but not online.

17 Responses to Mastering Genealogical Proof–Find-A-Grave

  1. Lori Meyer says:

    So, Russ, If I may ask do you keep all your photographs private or just find-a-grave and why?

    • Russ Worthington says:


      Oh, I publish the photographs on Find-A-Grave. Probably have 500 – 600 images there now.

      I want folks to go to the Find-A-Grave website to get the pictures. This way, I don’t have to think about WHO took the pictures in my file. I treat them all the same.


  2. John says:

    Since there is nothing in the index that isn’t on the Find A Grave memorial, and you’re already citing the memorial, why cite Ancestry’s index?

    There could be hundreds of pages that link to that memorial; one certainly doesn’t need to cite every webpage that provides a link, does one?

    It does seem strange citing something you wrote. If all the information in the memorial was placed there by you, then you obtained the information elsewhere, and wherever that elsewhere is is what you should be citing. Citing your memorial page feels circular.

    • Russ Worthington says:


      In a word, Consistency.

      I cite ALL Indexes in my file. I want to remember HOW I “got there”.

      You can certainly do what you wish. I have chosen to cite the indexes.

      Yes, It’s circular, in THIS example. I created the memorial, I took the picture, Ancestry indexed the Find-A-Grave memorial page. You are right, I took the information from my database, took the picture, added the information from the plaque, in this case. BUT, you may note, that I did NOT post, on the Memorial, ALL of the details that I know about my Dad. The memorial only reflects what is on the plaque.

      I do this ALL of the time. Take a picture, post the information from the headstone, better term Transcribe, and nothing else. I don’t post the “stories”.

      Why? If someone finds one of my relatives, and I posted the information from the headstone, on Find-A-Grave, I want them to contact me directly.

      If I post pictures from a local cemetery, and someone has more information, AND they are related to that person, I transfer the “ownership” of that memorial to that person. Let them post what they wish. They will know, I may not.

      Hope that helps,


  3. Judy in Ocala says:

    The most important reason not to post Find A Grave (FAG) photos to your Ancestry Member Tree (AMT), or anywhere else, is that they are copyrighted by the person who took the photograph. FAG makes this clear on their website. I contact the person who posted the photo and ask permission to use it. Most will grant it; some do not; some don’t reply. If I don’t have permission, I mark the photo private. In my FAG profile I have made a blanket statement relinquishing my copyright to photos I have taken.

    • Russ Worthington says:


      Aren’t you glad we now have that feature !!!! I am.

      Thank you for your comments.


    • JC says:

      Judy wrote “If I don’t have permission, I mark the phtoo private.”

      Are you saying you DO add the photo (taken by someone else and for which they have NOT given you permission to use) to your AMT in violation of Ancestry’s Terms & Conditions?

      • Russ Worthington says:


        I do not think that is what Judy said. She does as I do, Mark them Private in our Genealogy database, thus they are NOT uploaded to the AMT.


        • JC says:

          The statement doesn’t say “where” she marks the photos private; thus, my question.

        • Russ Worthington says:


          Judy and I use the same genealogy program and we have a way, within the program to mark Facts/Events and Media files as Private, We can see them within the program, but they are not included in the AMT.


        • Judy in Ocala says:

          I use Family Tree Maker 2012. Beginning with that version, FTM gives you the option of marking any of your media items private. (View Media Details) They are still uploaded to your online tree, but only you, or those to whom you give editing rights, can see them.

        • JC says:

          Judy, unfortunately you are still violating Ancestry’s Terms & Conditions as well as the copyrights of the photographer/s. Uploading to Ancestry is “publishing” even if it is behind a privacy setting. I presume “those to whom you give editing rights, can see them” can also save them to their trees. As a FAG contributor, if I do not give you permission to republish my photos, that means both publicly AND privately. Ancestry’s Rules of Content section of the T&C states no subscriber may “Post, transmit, or display content which is protected by copyright or trademark or that does not belong to you and that you do not have authorization for use from the owner of the copyright…” No exception is made for “Unless it’s behind a privacy setting”. If you don’t have permission to republish photos, you should not be putting them on ANY website. Personal use is on your computer, in your paper files.

      • Judy in Ocala says:

        No, I’m not saying that. My answer is in my first sentence you quoted above. Many people give me permission to use their photos any way I wish. In those cases I will post the photo to my AMT. If I don’t have permission, whether it’s because I haven’t asked for it, it was denied, or the person hasn’t responded to my request, then I will mark such images private so they will not be uploaded with the rest.

  4. dearmyrtle says:

    Thanks for sharing you thought process here, Cousin Russ. Five years ago were we as careful in our citations? I relied all too heavily on my genealogy software to craft the citations.

    • Russ Worthington says:

      Hi Cuz,

      Thank you for your comment.

      I spent most of last year, converting my existing Citations into the Template Format. It continues to be a “work in progress”.


      In doing this review, I picked up information from the containers that I had missed the first time. Read: Slow Down

      More consistent formatting of the Citations.

      More in line with the standards that the Genealogy Community has created over time.

      For me, it’s time well spent.


  5. Missy says:

    I like the idea of using Templates in your genealogy program. I cite things to death but I’m sure they aren’t “proper” and this is beginning to stay on my mind lately.

    I use Legacy Family Tree and was wondering if you or anyone else out there was familiar on how to do that in Legacy?

    Russ, you are really good at describing, step-by-step, on how to do things. Is this something you can blog about soon. Maybe by reading how your program works, I can figure out how mine would similarly work. Thanks.

    • Russ Worthington says:


      Thank you for your comments.

      Actually, I use Family Tree Maker AND I do have a blog on how to use it.

      I have a number of articles on this specific topic. I did a whole series on the 1940 US Census. This blog post was a result of the 1940 Census template.

      Please remember that Blogger and WordPress show the most recent Blog post at the top. So, you might want to start at the beginning of the 1940 Census posts.

      Hope that helps,


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