What a site. It landed on the genealogy scene in 1995 when Salt Lake City resident Jim Timpton built a genealogical database with his hobby of visiting celebrity gravestones. Since then, it has grown into a global database for many of the millions of dead from around the world.
Members and non-members alike can sift through the multitudes of data and find information on their ancestors and view their finals resting places. Due to the interest in genealogy, per the increase in awareness of family history through companies like Ancestry and 23 & Me, more and more people are getting interested in their past and finding their ancestors.
With this increase in popularity, there are some parts of the genealogy world that haven’t moved into the future.
I’ve always loved Find a Grave, I’ve used it since my earliest days in researching my family as a teen, and have appreciated the community base of genealogists who dedicate their time to photographing not just their families, but thousands of others as well.
But there is one thing that has always bothered me about the site, it’s acronymic name that genealogists commonly use, FAG.
It may not be quickly apparent to some, but the word fag is one of a turbulent history in the LGBTQIA community. It has been used to harass, threaten, abuse and in many cases murder.
In the past few years, genealogy and the research into one’s family history have blossomed significantly with companies like Ancestry, 23 and Ancestry putting out genetic genealogy test commercials for the general public to see. With this, we as a community have introduced a great variety of people to our much loved and passionate field.
As we continue to evolve and change into an inclusive community of genealogists and death positive folks that range to your Great-Aunt Mary and your Harley-riding younger brother Zac — we all love this field.
Note: As of today, I received a comment on my blog that said the following
“There is a new RAOGK -Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness that was started and we will not tolerate the use of that acronym. We have a photo of the National archives building The old Please if you could make that distinction in the post, so the new group doesn’t get lambasted. “
The problem is, there are some that are refusing to acknowledge this issue. Earlier this week, noted genetic genealogist Blaine Bettinger asked the Facebook genealogy group RAOGK (Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness) to stop using the term as shorthand. This one post has garnered over 247 comments and 8 shares.
I even posted something in the group this morning and it was swiftly deleted and within minutes of it being deleted, a member of the group ‘reached out’ (I use this word with several grains of salt) to me with the following:
This individual then proceeded to tell me that gay people aren’t offended by this acronym (hey, so, I’m gay, and I am) and that “It’s not being used in a derogatory way so I just don’t understand why it’s such an issue,” followed by “I think you’re a wee too sensitive.”
I’m just going to put it out there — that is privilege speaking. The term fag is a loaded term that comes with decades of violence, ignorance, and harassment. But, if I have to drag y’all kicking and screaming into the future — I will. This needs to change now.
Since we love so much, don’t you think we should take care of it? Include all the members of the community, no matter how different we are? So here is my proposal, let’s call it Find a Memorial (FAM). Why FAM?
- #1: It is not an offensive acronym or term and solves that problem hands down
- #2: It incorporates family (FAM) into the term, which what this is all about
- #3: Memorial is a much more applicable term as by definition, the graveyard has been used specifically for those graveyards near churches or as the definition of it says: “a burial ground, especially one beside a church.”Using the word memorial will incorporate not only graveyards and cemeteries but can also incorporate more non-traditional memorials such as cremations, at sea burials, etc.
If you support me, sign below with your name (i.e. Becky K., 34, Bellingham, WA) below and tweet at @FindAGrave and @Ancestry to make this happen.
We, the undersigned petition Ancestry (the parent company to Find a Grave) to change the name of Find a Grave to Find a Memorial for the following reasons:
- The acronym represents our field in a much more appropriate way
- The new acronym and name represents all types of departures from this earth, not just graves (cremations, scattered ashes, etc.)
- Find a Grave has always been a community-centered database and we all contribute from all the corners of the world. People of every gender, color, background, religion, sexuality, and type. Why not keep everyone together on this journey with a more inclusive name.
Names of Signatories
- Becky K., 34 – Bellingham, Washington, USA
- Stephany B. – Georgia, USA
- Chris F. – New Hampshire, USA
- Kirsten Beyer – Illinois, USA
- Hazel Scullin – Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
- Elizabeth Ludwig – Utah, USA
- Miranda Carter – Utah, USA
- Megan Fincher – California, USA
- Mary Rohrer Dexter
- Linda Dupuy
- Laura Napl
- Tawna L. – Meridian, Idaho, USA
- Betty Dees, 62 – Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA
- Kelly Bembry – Midura, Virginia, USA
- Casey F. – Long Beach, California, USA
- Diane B.
- Linda Fradelis – Chesapeake, Virginia, USA
- Carolynn ni Lochlainn
- Jenifer Kahn – Bakkala, Massachusetts
- Jan Pennington – England
- Leslie Rieger – Montana
- Brenda Leyndyke – Battle Creek, Michigan, USA
- Anna C. Matthews – Rockville Centre, New York, USA
- Arlene F. – Michigan, USA
- Sue J.
- Erica Millar – Ontario, Canada
- Geoff Mulholland
- Robin G.
- Raymond R Hawkins
- Rich M., 62, – Medford, Oregon, USA
- Charlotte N. – Utah, USA
- Leah M. – Washington, USA
- Dena R. – Visalia, California, USA
- Jordan MacVay – Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
- Victoria Kolakowski – Oakland, California, USA
- Rebecca Campbell – Dallas, Texas
- Miriam Robbins – Spokane, Washington, USA (Note left: User of FindAGrave for 18.5 yrs.)
- Millicent Parsons – Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
- Holly B. — Carnation, Washington, USA
- Susan S.
- Teresa Eckford – Sunshine Coast, Canada
- Zoe Krainik – USA
- Sarah Potter – Naperville, Illinois, USA
- Kat Kellermeyer – Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
- Joey De Luna – Bellingham, Washington, USA
- Cindy Badger – Osan Air Base, S. Korea
- Kolby LaBree – Bellingham, Washington, USA
- Trish Riederer – California, USA
- Heidi Pomerleau – Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
- Valorie Cowan Zimmerman
- Audra Searcy – Latrobe, Pennsylvania, USA
- Emily Schroeder – Solon, Ohio, USA
- Brooke W., 49 – Sydney, NSW, Australia
- Chelsy Parrish, 28 – Mesa, Arizona, USA
- Kassidy Price, 24 – St. George, Utah, USA
- Diane Willey – Ontario, Canada
- Andrea Weigel – Templeton, California, USA
Stephany B., Georgia
I’ll sign my name.
Thank you so much. Added you to the list!
Anna C. Matthews, Rockville Centre, NY
Thank you Anna!
Yes!! You can add me! 🙂
Kirsten Beyer, Illinois
Added. Thank you!
Here is another reason to use “Memorial”…they use the term all over their site!
You don’t add a grave on their site, you “Add a Memorial.”
You search by going to “Memorials” on the top bar.
Oh, and add my name as well. Victoria Kolakowski, Oakland, California.
Signing. Hazel Scullin, Salt Lake City, UT
Please add me! Also, I love your suggestion for FAM – that is such an improvement in so many ways!
Elizabeth Ludwig, Utah
Thank you very much!
Thank you for being part of this change, Linda!
Add my name
Your name is on it. Thank you so much for being part of this change.
Please add me too, Megan Fincher, California
You are on! Thank you so much.
Please add me too.
I appreciate you taking the time to read my writing and be part of this long-time coming change!
Well done! Please add me. Erica Millar, ON, Canada
Thank you, Erica! I will.
Please add my name to the signatures. I whole heartily agree that it needs to be changed. F.A.G. as it is know in many of my genealogy circles is not used in content to upset anyone but as an abbreviation that has been used for over 20+ years. Find A Grave is indeed a Memorial site not just a site for Graves.
Exactly! I’m glad so many people are behind this change. =)
I, too, would like to see a better name, and FAM sounds ideal.
Right? And it works out to remind us of FAMily history. =) Your name is on the list. Thank you!
I think the proposal to rename or rebrand the Find A Grave website to Find A Memorial (FAM) is a great idea !
Please add my name to the list of Names of Signatories.
Thank you so much, Geoff. And I’m glad you like the idea. It just seems so much better and applicable to me. Your name is on the list!
Please add me.
You are on!
Please add me to the list!
You are on the list of names, Tawna. Thank you so much. =)
A voice in the wilderness, preparing the way for a better future. Sign me up!
Betty Dees, 62, Cape Canaveral, Florida
Thank you, Betty! Your voice is important on this!
You can add me! Kelly Bembry Midura, Virginia.
I appreciate your support, Kelly!
Casey F. Long Beach, CA
Thank you for support, Casey!
Please sign me. I’ve been troubled by the acronym since the first time I saw it, and I’m not gay. Just aware.
Thank you, Diane. I actually have had this blog post sitting in my queue for over two years, waiting for the right time to post, and it looks like right now, is that right time!
Linda Ffradelis Chesapeake, VA
Thank you for the support, Linda!
Sign me up!
❤ Thank you.
Great idea! Please add me (I’m not on Twitter!)
Jenifer Kahn Bakkala, Massachusetts
You don’t have to be on twitter to support this! Make sure to email Ancestry and Find a Grave and let them know we want a change!
Arlene F, Northern Michigan
Your support means a lot, Arlene!
Brenda Leyndyke, Battle Creek, MI
Thank you for the support, Brenda!
Leslie Rieger, Montana
Thank you, Leslie!
I am presuming you are willing to add signatures from outsdie United States –
Jan Pennington – England
Also another reason for choosing Memorial rather than grave – I have relative listed on a panel in a Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, but he is not buried there, his name is included on a panel because it is known that he died during a battle nearby but his body has not been found. I am sure many others have similar stories.
Any signatures, from anywhere around the world are welcome. Please share with people in your area too!
And that is one of the reasons I did choose Memorial versus Grave. Thank you!
Thank you! Great idea! Add me to the list of signers
Thank you for the support, Deb!
I like this idea, please count me in!
Thank you! What name would you like me to put down?
I’ll gladly sign. Please add my name. I use both Ancestry and Find a Grave extensively.
Thank you so much, Raymond. Your name is on the list!
There is a new RAOGK -Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness that was started and we will not tolerate the use of that acronym. We have a photo of the National archives building
The old group is listed as Random acts of genealogical kindness (raogk)-USA and the owner lives in Australia.
Please if you could make that distinction in the post, so the new group doesnt get lambasted.
Hello Linda! I would love to include that. Thank you!
Thank you so much!! It’s like a gut punch everytime someone uses that acronym. Sign my name! Rich M., 62, Medford, OR.
Thank you so much for being behind this change, you are on the list of names!
Charlotte N. C., Utah
Thank you, Charlotte!
Leah M, Washington
Thank you for your signature, Leah!
I’m a long time findagrave user and I agree 100%. Dena R, Visalia, CA
Thank you so much, Dena. Your support is welcomed and appreciated!
Jordan MacVay, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
So wonderful to voices from my upper neighbors! Thank you for your support. Be sure to share with others. =)
Please add me.
Rebecca Campbell, Dallas, Texas
And until two years ago, I was a Rebecca Campbell myself (I got divorced, so I’m a Rebecca Kobel now!).
Please add “Miriam Robbins, Spokane, WA – User of FindAGrave for 18.5 years”
Thank you! And that is a long time using. I’m so glad you are behind this.
Millicent Parsons, Indianapolis, IN
Thank you so much for your support. 😀
Please add me — “Holly B, Carnation, WA”
Hello from another Washingtonian! 😀 Thank you for your support.
I love this idea and it’s more reflective of the information you can find on the site! Add my name!
Thank you so much, Susan! And I’m glad you agree. 😀
Teresa Eckford, Sunshine Coast, Canada
I’m so glad you were able to read this and that this blog post and petition are making its way around the world.
You may add me, Becks! Zoe Krainik, USA
You rock, Zoe! 😀
Happy to add my name! Sarah Potter Naperville, IL
Thank you so much, Sarah. I’m so glad to see this getting around, getting traction and getting support. 😀
Kat Kellermeyer, SLC, UT
LOVE YOU!! Glad you’re doing this!!
FAM! Thank you so much for sharing. It means the world to me.
Add me! I’m a heavy user/contributor!
100% glad you agree. =)
I agree that a name change to Find a Memorial (FAM) is in order, Elinda McKenna
Thank you! I’m hoping that this acronym will catch on and that Ancestry and Find a Grave will see and understand the need for change. Thank you for your support!
Definitely add my name to this effort. Sorry I’m so late to the party!
You got it, Joey!
Trish Riederer CA
Thank you! And you are the 50th name on the list. Be sure to share this with folks so more people can know.
Heidi Pomerleau, Salt Lake City, UT
Thank you so much, Heidi!
Please add my name: Valorie Cowan Zimmerman. So many reasons to make this change.
Thank you so much, Valorie!