Find a Grave – It’s About Time

Find A Grave.

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.

Anna N Daniloff — Evergreen-Washelli Memorial Park, Seattle, Washington, USA.

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.Pride Flag

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

  1. Becky K., 34 – Bellingham, Washington, USA
  2. Stephany B. – Georgia, USA
  3. Chris F. –  New Hampshire, USA
  4. Kirsten Beyer – Illinois, USA
  5. Hazel Scullin –  Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
  6. Elizabeth Ludwig – Utah, USA
  7. Miranda Carter – Utah, USA
  8. Megan Fincher – California, USA
  9. Mary Rohrer Dexter
  10. Linda Dupuy
  11. Laura Napl
  12. Tawna L. – Meridian, Idaho, USA
  13. Betty Dees, 62 –  Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA
  14. Kelly Bembry –  Midura, Virginia, USA
  15. Casey F. – Long Beach, California, USA
  16. Diane B.
  17. Linda Fradelis –  Chesapeake, Virginia, USA
  18. Carolynn ni Lochlainn
  19. Jenifer Kahn –  Bakkala, Massachusetts
  20. Jan Pennington – England
  21. Leslie Rieger –  Montana
  22. Brenda Leyndyke – Battle Creek, Michigan, USA
  23. Anna C. Matthews –  Rockville Centre, New York, USA
  24. Arlene F. – Michigan, USA
  25. Deb
  26. Sue J.
  27. Erica Millar –  Ontario, Canada
  28. Geoff Mulholland
  29. Robin G.
  30. Anna
  31. Raymond R Hawkins
  32. Rich M., 62,  – Medford, Oregon, USA
  33. Charlotte N. – Utah, USA
  34. Leah M. – Washington, USA
  35. Dena R. –  Visalia, California, USA
  36. Jordan MacVay – Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  37. Victoria Kolakowski – Oakland, California, USA
  38. Rebecca Campbell –  Dallas, Texas
  39. Miriam Robbins – Spokane, Washington, USA (Note left: User of FindAGrave for 18.5 yrs.)
  40. Millicent Parsons – Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
  41. Holly B. — Carnation, Washington, USA
  42. Susan S.
  43. Teresa Eckford – Sunshine Coast, Canada
  44. Zoe Krainik – USA
  45. Sarah Potter – Naperville, Illinois, USA
  46. Kat Kellermeyer – Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
  47. Joey De Luna – Bellingham, Washington, USA
  48. Cindy Badger  – Osan Air Base, S. Korea
  49. Kolby LaBree – Bellingham, Washington, USA
  50. Trish Riederer –  California, USA
  51. Heidi Pomerleau – Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
  52. Valorie Cowan Zimmerman
  53. Audra Searcy – Latrobe, Pennsylvania, USA
  54. Emily Schroeder – Solon, Ohio, USA
  55. Brooke W., 49 – Sydney, NSW, Australia
  56. Chelsy Parrish, 28 –  Mesa, Arizona, USA
  57. Kassidy Price, 24 – St. George, Utah, USA
  58. Diane Willey – Ontario, Canada
  59. Andrea Weigel – Templeton, California, USA

125 thoughts on “Find a Grave – It’s About Time

Add yours

  1. 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.

  2. Please add me! Also, I love your suggestion for FAM – that is such an improvement in so many ways!
    Elizabeth Ludwig, Utah

  3. 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.

  4. 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.
    Geoff Mulholland

    1. 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!

  5. A voice in the wilderness, preparing the way for a better future. Sign me up!
    Betty Dees, 62, Cape Canaveral, Florida

  6. Please sign me. I’ve been troubled by the acronym since the first time I saw it, and I’m not gay. Just aware.

    1. 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!

  7. Great idea! Please add me (I’m not on Twitter!)
    Jenifer Kahn Bakkala, Massachusetts

    1. 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!

  8. 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.

    1. 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!

  9. I’ll gladly sign. Please add my name. I use both Ancestry and Find a Grave extensively.

  10. 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.

    Great post!!


  11. Thank you so much!! It’s like a gut punch everytime someone uses that acronym. Sign my name! Rich M., 62, Medford, OR.

    1. Hello Teresa!

      I’m so glad you were able to read this and that this blog post and petition are making its way around the world.

    1. 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!

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