13:13 PM

The Digital Undertakers: Inside the Obsessive Community Racing to Put the Dead Online


My grandma died in April of 2004 at the age of 85, and what remains of her today are vestiges of a life lived entirely offline. In death, though, my grandma is more online than ever.

Find A Grave, as I would soon learn, is a website that documents the final resting place of millions of people all over the world. With 180 million entries, it is the largest gravesite collection on the internet. Owned by genealogy giant Ancestry.com, Find A Grave differs in one major way from the company’s other sites: it seems to be composed entirely of user-generated material. Though the site has become a popular resource among genealogists and family historians, Ancestry claims no legal responsibility for the accuracy of Find A Grave’s information. Instead, much of the content creation and moderation work is left to a sprawling community of volunteers. It’s a Wikipedia of the dead, albeit with far fewer rules.