Securing and Sharing
 Your Family Heritage

A Step-By-Step
Guide and Suggestions
Provided by Perry Sprawls
This is the third in our series of activities encouraging and helping families to develop and preserve and archive  records of their family heritage for future generations.  The urgency is if actions are not take now much of a families' history and heritage will be lost forever.

 The first activity  was to encourage families to get the different generations together and begin discussions about the family. especially the older generations, and gathering stories and notes that should be preserved. 

The second activity was to find, select, identify, label, and digitize some of the existing photographs for preservation and passing on to future generations.

Our next step (#3) will be moving these images into a permanent archive  for the preservation and sharing of our individual Family Heritages. For that we will be using the Find A Grave program because of the many features and advantages it provides.  An overview of those are illustrated here.

Find A Grave is a highly respected and free resource for preserving and sharing family heritages. It  was first developed as a directory of cemeteries and individual graves to help people locate graves, especially of family members.  That is the origin of the name “Find A Grave” but it provides much more.  It is a major resource for preserving and sharing the history and heritage of deceased family members.  The items that can be included for each family member are:

  • Places and dates of major life events.

  • Photographs

  • A Biography, the story of ones life.

  • Direct links to other family members who are included on Find A Grave, often over several generations.

  It is affiliated with, the major genealogy organization, but is maintained by the many registered volunteers/contributors located in communities all over the country.

Anyone Can Use It at no cost

 Anyone can go to the website,,  and search for what has already been posted for family members. You can search within specific cemeteries or columbaria or by individual names.  In most communities the majority of graves have already been entered into the program by the many registered contributors, but usually with limited information.  A good place to start in the preservation of your family heritage is to search and see what has been posted about your family members. Learning to use Find A Grave is somewhat like learning to drive an automobile; you must learn by actually doing it.

Who Can Add Items

Only the registered volunteer/contributors can add items to the website.  There are two possibilities for adding your family information.  One is to make contact with one of the volunteers in your community who is already managing the memorials, perhaps for some of your family members. By going to a memorial for someone, you can find who is managing it by clicking on the words “view source” that will be displayed. This is the person who is authorized to make any changes and can also create new memorials for family members not already posted.

A much better way is for someone in your family, perhaps of the younger generation, to become a registered volunteer/contributor and help other family members add information or create new memorials.  This is done by going to the Find A Grave website and registering to become a volunteer/contributor.

Our opportunities for now:  First, go to the Find A Grave website, learn how to search, and look at what has already been posted for members of your family. Next, contact or create a registered volunteer/contributor who can post your family information and manage the content of each of your family members’ online memorials. 

Some Example Links  

Cemeteries in Barnwell County, SC

Cemeteries in Black Mountain, NC

Dr. John Wilson, Black Mountain, NC

Rev. Posey Belcher, Jr.  Barnwell, SC

Next month our activity will be composing meaningful biographies for family members that can be added to the online memorials.